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nervousboi

Could I please get some advice on how to study in medical school? Or additional resources to use?

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I was hoping I could get some advice for how to approach medical school, especially since classes are completely online for the first semester so it wont be as easy to ask other student what they're doing.

I'm starting classes at the UofA this August. I did a degree in mechanical engineering and I haven't taken anything related to biology since the middle of high school. In my undergrad I mostly took exams which required me to solve 2-5 problems over the course of a couple hours, about 80% of the time these exams would be open book. The only content heavy closed book exam I had to take was the MCAT, which I don't think I did a great job studying for (ended up with a 502); all I really did was watch khan academy lectures (while writing down notes) and do practice problems. My concern is I don't know how to study content heavy coursework, something most students are familiar with by now.

Does anyone have any advice on how to study/what the workflow of a typical first year student is like?

Furthermore are there any supplemental materials I should consider using? I've seen some people on this forum talk about using american resources in their first two years (even if their not interested in writing the step 1 exam) such as reading first aid prior to each new block, watching boards and beyond videos in tandem with their lectures, and using pre made step 1 anki decks. Does that make sense, or would it be better to spend more time studying my schools lectures since they will likely be the most similar to the exams we write? Really I'd appreciate any advice :) 

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Not sure why no one has answered this so I'll give it a go (though I am by no means an expert as I'm also going into first year at U of A).

So based on a recent discussion on our class' FB group, most upper-year students are suggesting not to purchase any textbooks aside from the cardiology one (called Pathophysiology of Heart Disease by Leonard Lilly), and that one should be available online for free through the U of A library portal. 

Someone suggested getting the Toronto Notes once our class representative sells them.

I also read that we will have access to notes from upper years for our blocks once they begin.

I'm pretty sure that there are way more resources out there than we actually need and I will definitely wait until lectures start to really see if I need anything beyond aforementioned. I heard good things about Lecturio and Osmosis, but won't be using them right away (if at all) either. Will be using anki for sure though.

I understand that mechanical engineering isn't exactly a traditional premed program but then there isn't a designated premed program anyway, so I don't think that puts you at a disadvantage. Have faith in the admissions committee, if they felt that you're a good fit for the program, that implies their belief in your academic capacity. I specifically recall how during our virtual get-together with the 2023s, one student said that he is actually a lot more at ease in med school as compared to undergrad in spite of the overwhelming curriculum because he no longer feels the need to be the best in class. It's a Pass/Fail system after all and as far as I can tell there's quite a bit of collegiality amongst students.

Lastly, I'll mention two videos that speak about studying in med school. The first one is by a current fourth-year med student at U of A. In it he talks about the specific study techniques he uses. The second one is a more general advice on how to succeed in first year.

Cheers :D

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I think you got a good response above. I'll just add two points that have helped me:

Anki and other resources

First, anki is very important. I recommend doing Zanki step 1 for pre-clerkship (and step 2 closer to clerkship). Step 1 will have some cards that are very nitty-gritty and obviously just for the step 1 exam; I suggest suspending these. But, it's very good for understanding the basic physiology of every system (supplement it with reading the Costanzo textbook for physiology; this textbook is a very good balance between depth and conciseness) and a decent overview of the diseases you'll learn about in pre-clerkship (supplement that with Amboss, Osmosis, Merck Manual, and youtube as needed). Zanki Step 1 will not cover everything your curriculum covers, however. For that, you should make your own cards and add them to fill in the gaps. 

For every disease and system, I suggest starting with Osmosis for a broad overview (it'll explain things in simple terms for someone who has no background). After that, read Costanzo to solidify the physiology. Then read Amboss or Merck for solidify understanding of the disease (American Family Physician is also good). Lilly is pretty good for cardiology. I don't recommend textbooks for any other system because it'll be overkill. Toronto Notes is good for knowing an approach to presentations, but for someone just starting med school, I think it's too bare bones and you won't really understand anything until you've developed the fundamentals.

Change your mindset towards studying and knowledge

I also came from an academic background that was not content-heavy and required more problem-solving and applying concepts vs. memorizing facts. For this reason, I've found that posts from engineers about their experience in med school to resonate with me (there are a few if you search google). I started med school trying to understand everything in a broad, conceptual way. I found that this did not work very well, was inefficient, and also made me lag behind peers. I noticed that the most successful students in my class weren't focusing as much on the "why" and more on the "what" and "how." They spent way more time memorizing. So, I changed my mindset. Med school is not like engineering where the emphasis is on understanding broad concepts and applying that knowledge via critical thinking. Of course, you have to understand the basics of physiology and anatomy. But, at least for now, once you know the basics of the physiology, way more time should be spent on memorizing anatomy, pathophysiology, lists of symptoms, indications for tests, names of medications, etc. Those who come from a traditional premed path may find this easy and perhaps even a review of what they already know, but for those without this background, I think it's quite an adjustment. Be prepared to spend long hours memorizing rather than problem-solving.

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5 hours ago, SoonTibiaDr said:

Thanks for the detailed response @gogogo. Have you heard of anyone using boards n beyond, pathoma, or usmle first aid or step 2 ck in their study arsenal? 

I have heard of people using those and they seem to like it. Part of med school nowadays is finding the resources that work for you. I don't use those because I'm satisfied with my resources. First aid has nice quick summaries of topics, but you shouldn't use that until you have the background from sources that go more in-depth (like Merck and Costanzo); First aid can be your "refresher." Pathoma is the same idea, but for diseases. Boards n beyond seems pretty good, but I don't want to pay for it. Not sure about Step 2 ck.

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On 7/26/2020 at 11:05 PM, nervousboi said:

I was hoping I could get some advice for how to approach medical school, especially since classes are completely online for the first semester so it wont be as easy to ask other student what they're doing.

I'm starting classes at the UofA this August. I did a degree in mechanical engineering and I haven't taken anything related to biology since the middle of high school. In my undergrad I mostly took exams which required me to solve 2-5 problems over the course of a couple hours, about 80% of the time these exams would be open book. The only content heavy closed book exam I had to take was the MCAT, which I don't think I did a great job studying for (ended up with a 502); all I really did was watch khan academy lectures (while writing down notes) and do practice problems. My concern is I don't know how to study content heavy coursework, something most students are familiar with by now.

Does anyone have any advice on how to study/what the workflow of a typical first year student is like?

Furthermore are there any supplemental materials I should consider using? I've seen some people on this forum talk about using american resources in their first two years (even if their not interested in writing the step 1 exam) such as reading first aid prior to each new block, watching boards and beyond videos in tandem with their lectures, and using pre made step 1 anki decks. Does that make sense, or would it be better to spend more time studying my schools lectures since they will likely be the most similar to the exams we write? Really I'd appreciate any advice :) 

I had a non life-science background prior to medical school. I think the above posters make good suggestions about resources and ways to study. Don’t worry if it takes you a bit of time to figure out what works best for you, and be open to changing your approach as you go.

Personally I found Osmosis videos for a review of physiology and introduction to clinical concepts, combined with reading around clinical topics using mostly textbooks, to be more than enough for most things. As I’ve gone into clerkship I’ve started using OnlineMedEd quite bit more as it’s even more clinical focused. I found that while I really needed to understand the physiology at a high level, a very small portion of our exams directly tested that content to a level that required memorizing a tonne of detail. Exams in my years 1/2 tended to be quite focused more on clinical questions (disease presentations, pathophysiology and etiology, risk factors, diagnosis, management, etc) and increasingly so through clerkship, which is where I focused my time. Flashcards I used primarily only for anatomy and histology labs, and for the random details lecturers would throw into lectures that seemed like the sort of thing that might come up io a test. I didn’t really use lectures except as a guide for what to study myself. That worked well for me at UBC, although UofA could have a different testing style.

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