Posts Tagged ‘Medical students’


March 20, 2011

My niece was born a few months before I started medicine so I tend to be simultaneously amazed at her development, whilst comparing it disparagingly to my own. It occurred to me that she would be four by the time I graduated, and would be someone I could have a CONVERSATION with. It blew my mind at the time. It still does. As uni revealed itself to be, uh, quite difficult, it occurred to me that she may be much older before I actually graduated. I began to count time by her clock.

In two and a half years she has learned to hold her head up on her own, to focus her eyes, to follow sounds, to grasp objects, to roll over, to crawl, to gesture, to feed herself, to communicate using language, to walk, to scribble, ┬áto crack a joke, to demand things of bigger people, to hop on one foot, to hide her messes, to use a potty, to hold her pencil properly, to dress herself, to refuse to wear things she ‘no LIKE!’, to have a voice, to name everyone in the family, to have a proper tantrum, to stomp, to dance, to jump on beds, to slurp spaghetti, to burp loudly, to use a mobile phone, to work the ‘moooo-veee’ machine, to twirl around with a big full skirt, to get dogs to ‘sit DOOOOWN’, to jump through puddles in big yellow duck gumboots and to laugh manically whenever someone on TV gets hurt.

Two years ago I couldn’t locate a femur. Lately, I’ve been allowed to see patients on my own. Without anyone. BY MYSELF. Having a chat, taking their history, doing a rudimentary exam and playing ‘doctor’. Of course I have to then get the registrar…who then has to go and get the consultant. But for those few moments when it’s just the patient and I, I feel like my niece when she’s clunking around the house with ladies size 8 shoes, a mobile phone and a handbag, announcing to everyone she’s going “OWT”. I feel a little teensy bit grown up.

Then later when talking to the reg or the consultant…and we’re actually having a medical conversation about the patient, a disease process, a prognosis…it catches me: I know these words, these nuances, these unsaid implications. I’m having a CONVERSATION.




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.

AMSA + impending doom

March 24, 2010

I’ve just registered for AMSA Convention. Waiting anxiously for my email to say “Yes, totally come and relieve yourself of all your funds”. I wasn’t interested last year because I thought it would be an orgy of drinking.
Which, funnily enough, is the exact reason why I’ve registered this year*.

The hope of an alcohol fueled week + interesting lectures is getting me through the next two weeks. Exams are looming. I’m accustomed to the inadequate feeling that has been sitting uncomfortably in my stomach. GIT, Endo + Repro went by so quickly. It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly in our first study week, while the first years aren’t even finished their first block. I look at their board during PBL and get flashbacks. It doesn’t seem that long ago and yet I struggle to remember any of the processes they’re studying. Integration block (where we remember all the stuff from the last two years) is going to be so hard. So hardy hard hard. But lets take another sip of our $3.99 wine, shall we and pretend its not going to happen?

In other news, after spending the weekend with my 17 month old niece I now think in Dr Suess verse.

I do not like green eggs and exams.

I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

*apart from it being in Hobart, where a good friend lives. And being extremely interested in the academic program. Aaaand the fact that I have a huge crush on Charlie Teo…