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Tips for success in medical school...


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Decide in advance what your academic standards are (i.e., top third, middle, bottom third), because there's a potentially big difference in how much time you spend studying. Also, don't stress out too much. You may have heard horror stories about medical school, but for the most part they're not true for Canadian and U.S. students; the vast majority of people pass everything... unlike international schools (e.g., the Caribbean) where many intentionally weed out poor performers, and classes entering at 100 students only graduate 60.

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Know how you learn best and set yourself up for that. Don't let anyone tell you that you "should" learn a certain way - going/not going to class, studying in groups/not, textbooks/not. Get into a routine that works for you and stay on top of it - don't let everything build up.

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To those of you who are in medical school or who have just been admitted to medical school, what are your strategies for success in medical school? Feel free to share your experiences/advice and that of others.....

 

Consistent studying is the way to go.

 

like ellorie said, find your way of studying and never judge others for their 'different' studying habits/patterns. There is no single way to succeed in medical school (although it would be nice if there was) and everyone finds their own way

 

Self-directed learning is greatly recommended since from now on the # of hrs you put into studying actually has a definitive benefit in the long-run.

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What do folks mean by self-directed learning? On the surface self-directed is self explanatory but when I think a bit more about it, its not quite as simple as the words make it out to be. What I anticipate being challenging is the broad content and vast amount of sources available to learn from on any particular topic. For instance in terms of a specific disease, there are multiple aspects including epidemiology, basic sciences and patho-physiology, diagnostics and basic sciences behind diagnostics, physical assessment and basic sciences behind assessment, pharmacology and basic sciences behind pharmacology, big picture and evidenced based approaches e.g. the best drug is extremely expensive and so a lesser cheaper drug might be similarly efficacious and better to prescribe. Furthermore, it gets even more complicated when there are numerous conflicting sources about each aspect.

How does one self-direct and weave through all this info and become clinically brilliant. I don't care about my grades on tests, p=MD would suffice for me. I do, however, want to first be clinically relevant and also clinically brilliant to better serve the people I'm caring for. This quest has left me perplexed about the years to come, further advice would be much appreciated.

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1) Study intelligently because obviously you can't memorize everything you'll see as there's too much info. Arrive prepared at the lectures so you already understand what you're being taught during class. Study little by little. Cramming is not the best option IMO unless it has always worked for you

 

2) Keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle : go to the gym, eat well, sleep enough and plan a few social activities in your weekly schedule. You should always keep some time to take care of your mental health because med school can easily become overwhelming !

 

3) If you're gunning for a particular residency program, then you should grab each opportunity you have to become more familiar with it, like getting involved in a committee, asking the lecturer for shadowing, doing research during summer, etc. This will give you experience and you'll develop important contacts for your future application

 

4) ENJOY WHAT YOU DO! Med school is not easy. Sometimes it will be harsh, sometimes you might ask yourself why you chose medicine... But it's so interesting and in the end it's definitely worth it !

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Thanks everyone! I appreciate the feedback! Please keep the thoughts coming...this is a discussion that has the potential to help many students find a smoother transition to medical school!

 

Would you guys say there is a big difference between studying for undergrad courses vs med courses? Would the same techniques work?

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What do folks mean by self-directed learning?

 

Since no one else has responded yet, here's my take -- when I use the term self-directed learning, I refer to the motivation to master the material even when grades are not the goal (though I think they will benefit as a result), and to the process where one identifies gaps in their knowledge and seeks to fill them.

 

With regards to learning topics in medicine, there are a number of concise (but still comprehensive) books that are geared towards learners, such as Lilly's Pathophysiology of Heart Disease for cardiology. These cover all the main points regarding a certain disease topic, which includes all generally accepted knowledge without delving too much into controversy, as appropriate for your level of training.

 

For advice on therapeutics, likewise there are books such as Drugs and Drugs which are a great reference for trainees and contain the practical information that you seek. For evolving approaches, practice guidelines and resources such as Cochrane Reviews are designed to distill current evidence into standards of practice that are easier to follow. Your library can help you here.

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Lactic Folly is perfectly right.

 

Another thing to help with self-directed studying on top of wanting to know everything necessary to be a good clinician is to ask "What should I know now?". If you need to pass certain tests in the short-term and face certain types of evaluations at this point, then knowing too much about a very specific type of cardiac drug because you're interest is in cardiology will be counterproductive.

 

So basically, use short and long term goals to have cutoff points in your studies.

 

My aim is a certain program and I will work on that on the side and build my CV to apply for residency in it over time. In the meanwhile, my goal is to be as good at possible in evaluations at Mac, to learn as much of the breadth of medicine as possible, and to be as best prepared as possible for clerkship. In time, as I check off the clerkship box for example, I will upgrade my goals to do my best in the LMCC. Overly worrying about the LMCC or residency-specific knowledge will take away from my ability to do well at my current goals.

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this /3... including lily's which is seriously one of my fave books ever, lol... also f_d, racketball, ellorie, nixon, f_gp... more or less most people's approach, rolled into one, and knowing what works best for you... which is prob bad answer, since it's more nebulous than where you started, but honestly, i find being really good at something incorporates a number of approaches, knowing what you want in life, and what approach works best for you, as well as the humility to ask others, and the passion to enjoy what you do, while maintaining balance.

 

Since no one else has responded yet, here's my take -- when I use the term self-directed learning, I refer to the motivation to master the material even when grades are not the goal (though I think they will benefit as a result), and to the process where one identifies gaps in their knowledge and seeks to fill them.

 

With regards to learning topics in medicine, there are a number of concise (but still comprehensive) books that are geared towards learners, such as Lilly's Pathophysiology of Heart Disease for cardiology. These cover all the main points regarding a certain disease topic, which includes all generally accepted knowledge without delving too much into controversy, as appropriate for your level of training.

 

For advice on therapeutics, likewise there are books such as Drugs and Drugs which are a great reference for trainees and contain the practical information that you seek. For evolving approaches, practice guidelines and resources such as Cochrane Reviews are designed to distill current evidence into standards of practice that are easier to follow. Your library can help you here.

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if you have the opportunity, then why not... pre-clerk gives you ample time as well, but if you have specific interests and a means to shadow them, go for it

 

Should I start shadowing certain specialities before med sch even starts if I am interested in them? Or is there quite a lot of time during Pre-clerkship to do these while at the same time studying for exams?
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