I have received lots of encouraging feedback about this post where I shared some important lessons from my medical school journey.
As a follow up, I have put together few tips that helped during my medical school days. I hope my blog readers who are medical students will benefit greatly.
These are strategies that worked for me and they are quite simple to apply:
1. Have a study schedule
I can’t overemphasize this. This is the most important studying strategy to use. Having a schedule helps you to know
– WHAT you want to study
– WHEN you want to study and
– HOW LONG you need/have to study
2. Start with what you know
I like to ask myself what I know about a particular topic before studying it.
For instance before you study about Bacteria, try to brainstorm on what you remember from your high school Biology or premed Microbiology, then continue from there.
Ask yourself these:
– Have I heard of this topic before?
– What do I remember about it?
For instance, you can start by watching a video on Burns, then read it up in a textbook, then revise what you have in your lecture notes, and finally discuss it with your study group colleagues.
The more channels you have carrying the same information into your brain, the more likely you are to retain the info.
4. Test yourself
This is another very important tip. There’s no point studying for hours, if you can’t answer a few questions in between.
It’s a good habit to jot down some questions for you to answer when you’re done studying a topic or better still make use of practice questions.
Testing yourself helps you to differentiate what you actually know from what you think you know.
5. Maximize your non-studying hours
This is one of the simplest strategies you can apply. Whether you’re taking a shower, doing some laundry, or sitting in the hospital lobby, you can task your brain with simple actions like recalling the definition of diarrhea or listing the ABCs of ER resuscitation.
6. Attend classes/seminars/rounds
I’ve come across lots of medical students who skip classes as tests/exams approach, claiming that they need more hours to study. In my opinion, that’s not always the best choice to make.
Medical school is about self discipline, there are a lot of other things you can cutback on while preparing for an exam eg TV, Sleep and Social media.
As much as possible try to attend those few classes preceding your exam, you might be fortunate to get one or two tips that will be of help later on.
7. Make it real
One way to add fun to your studying is to make it as real as possible, in your everyday experiences.
Practical application of medical knowledge is the most authentic way of making it stick.
While in medical school, I used to tease my flatmates (also medical students) about food poisoning by Bacillus Cereus and other organisms, when leftovers were not properly kept.
There are pockets of opportunities to apply any new knowledge you’ve attained on a daily basis.
I know it’s a real struggle for many medical students to find the balance between knowing enough to pass and knowing enough to practice.
The truth is if you don’t know enough to pass your exams in the first place, you can’t move to the next semester, and then you won’t be able to graduate as a medical doctor.
You may find yourself debating on whether to learn about all the facial muscles, their origin/insertion as well as their blood supply/drainage, or to just focus on the few important ones that might come out during your exam.
My advice is that for now, you should focus on knowing enough to pass from the level you are in, unto the next. With diligence and focus, you will build up on what you already know while you gain newer knowledge.
Most importantly, ask God for wisdom and direction as you study. Should any of the above strategies fail, don’t stop PRAYING.
I hope these tips help.
Thanks for reading,