Posts Tagged ‘med student’

how to write a form (or “the clinical years”)

September 6, 2011

I should be recording the events of this year.
This ridiculous, ridiculous year.
This year that started on the 10th of January, with one week holiday in June and 47 something weeks of uni with early starts, late nights, being stuck in surgery, being humiliated, being triumphant (in the smallest of things), being crushed, being humbled, witnessing the slowest of deaths, the swiftest of deaths, the slowest of births, the swiftest of births, the phelgm, the blood, the tears, the families (oh god, the families), the residents, the registrars, the consultants, the nurses, the hospital food, the free lunches, the hilarious patients, the sad patients, the angry patients, the stitch cutting, the blood taking, the holding of surgical instruments, the firsts, the moments of clarity (with their emphatic promises that you will NEVER go into that speciality/do that procedure/watch another one of those/do another one of those ever again), the learning. The godforsaken learning.
So much learning.
The fevered collection of tips and tricks scrawled onto scraps of papers, or hands.

How to organise your day as an intern, how to tick all the boxes, where to put the Xray form in, who to call when the login won’t work for the blood results, where to find staff phone numbers on the intranet directory, how to write a request form, a consult form, a *insert anything* form, where to get a coffee at any hour of the day, how to request an MRI or angiogram and actually get it, how to answer a question without actually answering it, how to look interested whilst mentally doing your shopping list, how to actually say something other that “um… increase in squiggly lines” when interpreting an ECG, how to placate to angry famillies/coworkers/patients/cafeteria staff, how to avoid killing someone.
That last one is reaaaaally tricky.
My expectations have shrunken so that instead of aiming to be super-mega-doctor. I’m going to start with “Not killing people” and then build on that.

I’ve noticed that all this learning, accumulating has become addictive. If I spend too much time off, wandering, floating through op shops, visiting family or reading books I actually start to get down. I get itchy, feeling like I should be doing more. Overwhelmed by this guilt of “Oh god. I could have learnt SO much in this day and I frittered it away”. There is something unsettling, unnerving about becoming aware of the potential of a days learning. What a day wasted can mean.

Despite this, there are days (often concurrent) when I live in my pyjamas, eat over the sink, forget to brush my hair and don’t go into uni at all. The perfect antidote.


The lightbulb moment

October 25, 2010

I recently had a change of study technique. My study methods up until now have been blatantly copying other students. I’m that chick who accosts you in the library and says “soooo what are you doing with that highlighter there, aye? ahhh you highlight your notes, huh? cool…”

I used flashcards because I saw someone doing it. I used a folder with tabs and bound notes because I saw someone do it. I handwrote my notes because someone told me it sticks better in your brain when you’re forced to write it (It kind of does, especially if you’re a fast typist). I bought books that people even half heartedly recommended.

But I still borderlined failed the neuro/psych/msk exam. Which made me cry. In a heap. In the shower. A lot. I was so down about it and felt like there was nothing I could do, because clearly my brain didn’t work the same way that other people’s did, as they all read the questions correctly and I was still reading them a completely different way. And forgetting stuff that I’d known when we did it in PBL.

But then in one moment the emo clouds disappeared and I realised that just because I was going through the motions of ‘studying’ like my friends it didn’t mean that I knew what I was doing. So, I googled “How to learn medicine”. Which is almost full circle from when I googled “how to get into medicine” in early 2008. I couldn’t believe it took THIS long for it to occur to me to actually research how you acquire large volumes of knowledge. Psychologists STUDY that kind of shit and here I was thinking I could just, like, do it by watching other people and buying some pretty stationary?

The results were amazing. On an overseas med student forum I found this gold:

To be a good student, the intangibles are required: work-ethic, dedication, and self-confidence.

However, in medical school, you will discover that almost everyone has that. The filtering process of undergraduate has removed most of those that lacked these intangibles. At this point it comes down to study method. The students who have the best methods are called geniuses. The students who have the worst methods flunk out or barely pass.

Good study method comes down to just a few things.

  1. You must understand the material by translating it in your own language.
  2. You must then review the material over and over again.
  3. You need to see the material at least 4 times with an optimum of at least 6 times.
  4. And finally, you need to review over several days.”

The most common mistakes made by medical students

1. Over-simplifying the material

2. Just reading and rereading the material. You must make your own notes in your own words and your own diagrams

3. Don’t review the material the week before the test. You must do it over the whole block.

Once I tentatively talked to a few people about it, it turns out a lot of students do this. Make sure they review a topic once every day for a few days to get it to stick. I’d just been reading it once, then waiting until study week (because that’s when you study, right?) and “reviewing” it and wondering why I wasn’t remembering stuff.


But now through trial and error I know what works for me. I think.

1. Pre-reading before a lecture.

2. Reading immediately after a lecture.

3. Writing in my owns word, turning the concept into a dirty story/poem or a song.

4. Painting and drawing for anatomy

5. Typing during a lecture, then reading over it to edit the grammar, then reading again to format the document. So by the end I’ve read the notes three times and have an easy to read formatted document.

6. writing one page per concept in a book. then condense hard to remember stuff on flashcards.

I hope this works. We’ll find out in three weeks.

Odd moments

June 14, 2009

What a difference a few months can make. 

During a particularly frustrating moment of a study session when we were trying to figure out which bit connected to where via what, I sighed + came out with:

“I wish we had a cadaver…”

Cue strange looks from study mates. They thought about it for a moment, + then agreed that it would be really quite nice. Especially if it had pins. Pins with names written on them.

While I still feel the same reverence towards cadavers as I did in February, I am slightly shocked at how comfortable I am around them.

To the point of actually missing their presence.