Posts tagged study habit

Case Study.
Studying in the clerkship years is a challenging task. Study times gives way to working time; working time gives way to sleeping time. Somewhere in between we need to create time for ourselves to build our knowledge.
The transition into third year requires quick adaptation to studying on the go. Bring a pocket book or load an ebook onto your phone or tablet computer. If you have few minutes to catch your breath, take out your study material and read a little. 
The best way to maximize your learning in these circumstances is to read around the cases you see each day. Was there something you did not understand about the pathophysiology for patient A’s condition? Not sure what the management plan should be for patient B? Make a case study out of these patients and read around what you do not know or cannot remember. Not only does this help you relate your readings to an actual experiences that help solidify your knowledge, but it will help you manage that patient’s care better. It is a win-win.
Next pearl: ?…Previous pearl: Photos & Videos Prohibited…

Case Study.

Studying in the clerkship years is a challenging task. Study times gives way to working time; working time gives way to sleeping time. Somewhere in between we need to create time for ourselves to build our knowledge.

The transition into third year requires quick adaptation to studying on the go. Bring a pocket book or load an ebook onto your phone or tablet computer. If you have few minutes to catch your breath, take out your study material and read a little. 

The best way to maximize your learning in these circumstances is to read around the cases you see each day. Was there something you did not understand about the pathophysiology for patient A’s condition? Not sure what the management plan should be for patient B? Make a case study out of these patients and read around what you do not know or cannot remember. Not only does this help you relate your readings to an actual experiences that help solidify your knowledge, but it will help you manage that patient’s care better. It is a win-win.

Next pearl: ?…
Previous pearl: Photos & Videos Prohibited…

What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Epipheo.

The other day, I had a discussion with a specialist. We went through some academic topics and theories. As new thoughts emerged into my mind, I would ask around them, taking us further and further away from the original point he had tried to make.

"Stop," he said. "This seems to be a generation-issue of yours. If you keep changing the topic like this, you will not learn any of it; you will not remember the point I tried to make." I recoiled back for a moment, embarrassed. I politely apologized. He was right. Had I really been absorbing any of the information? Or had I just glossed over it?

As the flow of information in our lives becomes and much greater and more powerful force, we will need to be ever diligent not to allow ourselves to be distracted. To not lose sight of our focus and our goals amidst the torrent of random stimuli will be a cornerstone to proper learning. 

Hello! I am a 2nd year medical student, and I love your blog! I'm in the last 2 weeks before my boards. Do you have any advice?Thanks! — Asked by Anonymous

Hello and welcome,

This goes without saying: remain calm. Take some nice deep breaths and relax. Set up a plan for yourself for the next two weeks. Look at the topics you need to review and dedicate yourself to a checklist and focus on a few things from your checklist per day. Learn them and study them well. Do practice questions around them if available. Try to work at a constant pace and try not to let the workload pile up closer to your exam.

Most importantly: take care of yourself. It might be tempting to pace yourself to the point where you lose the time to sleep, eat or relax but you need all of those things still. Take regular breaks, let your brain unwind. At the end of the day when your mind is exhausted and you feel you cannot retain more information, do not push yourself. Everything beyond that point you are not going to remember anyways so just take the rest of the night off.

The night before your exam, keep the studying lighter and get more sleep. Eat well the next morning. A higher protein meal (but not extreme) in the morning about two to three hours before your exam will help keep you feeling satiated and your mind clear. Keep a bottle with you and a light snack for the exam. And again remember: deep breaths; everything will be all right.

Good luck!

Hi! My name’s Ridha and I am a 19 year old student living in Australia. I am keen to enter med school here in Sydney, but unfortunately my current abilities in the UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine Admissions Test) are affecting my chances of getting in. I sat the 3 hour exam last year and did very poorly, and despite doing more intensive prep this time round, I still feel inadequate, and that my marks are not improving sufficiently enough. What could I be doing wrong?

You are probably not familiar with this specific test, but I was wondering what your thoughts on these Medicine entrance tests are, and if you could kindly share some advice on how to generally approach this exam, which is on the 31st of July this year. (Just to give you some background,I am generally above average in academics, this may be completely irrelevant tho).I really enjoy reading your blog, and you make me more and more determined to try to turn every stone to be where you are at now.

Hi Ridha,

Thanks for your message. You can check out some of my replies regarding taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by searching the tag mcat on my blog. You can also find some more long-winded answers regarding the MCAT in the index here

Having said that, I cannot claim to know how the test is compared to the MCAT nor do I know what you have tried in terms of studying. I think that it is alright not to feel ready. If you were overconfident that would be worse. Focus on taking a lot of practice exams. Get a feel of the questions, the style, and the pacing you need to work on. If you have the time, set up a mock exam and sit there, as you would for three hours and write a practice exam.

Part of the stress of writing these kinds of exams is being put into a very artificial environment, writing exams that are designed in such a way to be objective and may not be the easiest or best way to gauge your aptitude. It can be very stressful and cloud your thinking. The more comfortable you can make yourself before that test day, the better you can be as you focus on the task and not the situation.

At the end of the day, the exam is secondary. It is a proxy measurement that, in the real world context does not reflect who you are or what you are capable of. When you become a doctor or any professional, it is not how well you can decide between four choices but how you react to problems. So do not get bogged down by the test and let it ruin your day. Granted you still need to perform well enough to be competitive, but think of it as a hurdle to overcome and not as the end-all-be-all. 

If you would like more clarifications or ask more questions, leave me a comment in the inbox. Good luck on your studies and take care.

Yours sincerely,
Tom of the Medical State of Mind

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Scheduling Balance.
Readers often ask me and I often talk about finding balance while being in medical school. It helps improve your learning, your productivity, and your lifestyle while preventing burn out. This is however - as I know first hand - easier said than done. 
Today, I thought I might talk about one of the tools I use to scheduling balance: the calendar. We have all seen it; many of you might even use it on a day to day basis. It comes in many forms, from the large poster boards on your wall, to the agenda you carry in your bag, to the phone you carry in your pocket. 
The balance I strive for is easily overcome by the demands of medicine. There is no shortage of work, calls, and rounds to attend if I was so inclined. To prevent this bias, my schedule has to be balanced by the counter argument: the personal events and interests. If there are important events or activities I would like to do, I waste no time putting them in, no matter how trivial it is.
To have the calendars visible at all times side by side, reinforces the importance and interplay they have with each other. No calendar is more important than the other. 
Since I am in a relationship, I have found the digital calendar that syncs between my computer and phone to be the best fit for me. Not only can I add activities and events from either device at any time, I also have access to my partner’s calendar and she mine, making it easier to plan get togethers.
Scheduling balance works best when you are willing to put in the time to creating and maintaining your calendar as well as checking it regularly to make the most of your planning. Depending on how often you choose to do both, your mileage with the calendars may vary.
With a calendar well stocked and at your side at all times, you can easily check before you say “yes.” At the end of the day, life balance cannot be achieved no matter what tools you use if you cannot confidently say “no.”

Scheduling Balance.

Readers often ask me and I often talk about finding balance while being in medical school. It helps improve your learning, your productivity, and your lifestyle while preventing burn out. This is however - as I know first hand - easier said than done. 

Today, I thought I might talk about one of the tools I use to scheduling balance: the calendar. We have all seen it; many of you might even use it on a day to day basis. It comes in many forms, from the large poster boards on your wall, to the agenda you carry in your bag, to the phone you carry in your pocket. 

The balance I strive for is easily overcome by the demands of medicine. There is no shortage of work, calls, and rounds to attend if I was so inclined. To prevent this bias, my schedule has to be balanced by the counter argument: the personal events and interests. If there are important events or activities I would like to do, I waste no time putting them in, no matter how trivial it is.

To have the calendars visible at all times side by side, reinforces the importance and interplay they have with each other. No calendar is more important than the other. 

Since I am in a relationship, I have found the digital calendar that syncs between my computer and phone to be the best fit for me. Not only can I add activities and events from either device at any time, I also have access to my partner’s calendar and she mine, making it easier to plan get togethers.

Scheduling balance works best when you are willing to put in the time to creating and maintaining your calendar as well as checking it regularly to make the most of your planning. Depending on how often you choose to do both, your mileage with the calendars may vary.

With a calendar well stocked and at your side at all times, you can easily check before you say “yes.” At the end of the day, life balance cannot be achieved no matter what tools you use if you cannot confidently say “no.”

Using Evernote.
I have received a lot of questions about what program I am using to organize my notes. It is called Evernote and it is still something I am experimenting with but I am quite pleased with the results thus far.
What appeals to me most about it at this point is the ability to edit and sync my notes on my computer to my phone so that I always have all of my notes with me anywhere without the hassle of notebooks and paper. That, along with a fast and responsive engine for tagging and searching makes organizing and finding my notes a lot less time consuming.
As one reader was asking, it does support document and image attachments as well as recorded audio clips (that have thus far not been very useful to me). However, I do insert inlayed images often for diagrammatic purposes. 
At this time, it is definitely a much more tedious operation to convert readings and clinical pearls to digital notes when I come home but over the long term, I think they will be more useful.

Using Evernote.

I have received a lot of questions about what program I am using to organize my notes. It is called Evernote and it is still something I am experimenting with but I am quite pleased with the results thus far.

What appeals to me most about it at this point is the ability to edit and sync my notes on my computer to my phone so that I always have all of my notes with me anywhere without the hassle of notebooks and paper. That, along with a fast and responsive engine for tagging and searching makes organizing and finding my notes a lot less time consuming.

As one reader was asking, it does support document and image attachments as well as recorded audio clips (that have thus far not been very useful to me). However, I do insert inlayed images often for diagrammatic purposes. 

At this time, it is definitely a much more tedious operation to convert readings and clinical pearls to digital notes when I come home but over the long term, I think they will be more useful.

Daily Readings.
Every night I try to read up on the cases I see and the patients I encounter. It is the best way to develop a mental picture of a condition, especially if you have a real patient with a very typical presentation. Here is a sample of this week’s notes.

Daily Readings.

Every night I try to read up on the cases I see and the patients I encounter. It is the best way to develop a mental picture of a condition, especially if you have a real patient with a very typical presentation. Here is a sample of this week’s notes.

How did you manage your academics in your undergrad? Was getting good grades easy for you? Do you have any tips? — Asked by Anonymous

If you read the answer before yours, those advices came after a few years of undergrad. At the start, I was not very well balanced in this department and I struggled to make the most of my time and find ways of studying that worked well for me. 

Doing well in university was never that simple in university. I worked very hard to get the grades I got and to get where I am. It is always a struggle to get the most out of my studying. We are only human. 

You can read the tips in the previous post for what I do or just search “study habit.”

I am a senior in high school and currently applying to colleges. I've taken AP courses throughout the past four years that have forced me to develop successful study habits, but I am still a bit nervous about the rigorous courses I plan to take in the near future. I plan on attending Vanderbilt University for undergraduate school and Johns Hopkins University for medical school (hopefully) to become an oncologist, so some useful studying tips would be extremely helpful. What advice do you have? — Asked by taylor-el

Everyone has different studying tips. I have written a bit about this and you could search for it here under “study habit.”

My general advice is to take breaks when things are not sinking in, refocus, then restart. This goes for regular studying or when you’re cramming. Your brain does not have unlimited stamina; it needs rest.

The other advice is to use multiple approaches, and not just repetition. Your brain generally learns best when the message is reinforced through different modalities. Try some flow charts, make tables, or flash cards. If something is not working, discard it for a better method.

Next, set some goals for yourself. Decide what you need to focus on, what you can accomplish, and do as much as you can. It is alright to sometimes bite off more than you can chew, but always know your limits and keep pushing forward. Even if you only review a bit every day, in the long run you will have read through the material quite a bit.

Lastly, review often. The freshest material is always that which is covered most recently. Go back often to freshen up older material. The subsequent passes you will get a feel for what you have forgotten, what you have remembered, and focus yourself appropriately where you are struggling.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Good luck and take care.