Med School provides perhaps the best substantiation for Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. For here we see in its cruelest form of the survival of the fittest. Not the smartest, as one should expect. But the fittest to cope with the inhuman pressures, the demands made not only on the brain but on the psyche…”
—Doctors by Erich Segal, 1989
Having done fairly well in my medical graduation course, here are few tips for fellow students on how to manage themselves during the course, keep themselves motivated, and study. Some of things I did and things I wish I had done during my college days.
Decide if you really want to have a career in Medical Science. Not just good money and great deal of respect and recognition, there comes equally great responsibility to serve mankind. There will be many sleepless nights, lots of work, tons of mental pressure, and you will have to go through hardships which you would never come across otherwise. If you are the lazy kind- this doesn’t suit you. Do something else. Don’t even bother going through hassles of entrance preparation. Or spend chunk of your dad’s money. This is the profession that demands profound knowledge, decent skill, great dedication along with utmost sensitivity and constant vigilance. Think you can manage that? Hop in!
Welcome to Med School
Find an appropriate place to live in. Somewhere you don’t get disturbed. Someplace with good food nearby. Place you can crash anytime and sleep tight. A roommate you can get along with. Because this place will be your home for quite sometime now.
Look at your syllabus. In all Medical Schools, during the first and second years, you are required to study basic subjects- Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, and additionally Microbiology, Pathology and Pharmacology in some. Then Community Medicine and Forensic Science joining midway. Medicine, Surgery and Gynecology & Obstetrics along with their branches – Pediatrics, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Head Neck and Otolaryngology, Orthopedics, Radiology, Radiotherapy, Anesthesiology, are reserved for final years. Clinical Skill requires a different approach(tips vide infra). For the theory part, its almost similar technique for all the subjects,
At the beginning of the each semester, just look at and make yourself familiar with what you got to study. The Books.
Then when classes begin, be very attentive in your classroom. Because what the they say is somehow important, be it for exams or clinically. Jot down what your teacher says. Make your own short hand technique- so you could write fast enough. Try to write nicely. Don’t write on loose sheets that you’d lose the other day. Make this notebook your permanent one. One good technique is to write only on one side of the pages. Then when you study the topic by yourself- you can make your own notes on the other side.
At the end of the day, there’d be three or four new things you’ve learnt. Go back to where you live-hostel or home. Don’t think about Study at all for next 4-5 hours. Take a little nap. Entertain yourself. Take your time to enjoy, relax. Play some sport. Exercise. Walk/ Run. Go on an evening date. Just make sure you still got 2-3 hours to go through what you’ve been taught during the day.
- Read the notes you took in the classroom.
- Open your text book. Read the related topic. Read everything like you’d read novels. DO NOT try to mug up. Just make an effort to understand.
- Read again. This time Mark and highlight the ‘things to remember’, the important points. Try to remember the definitions, values, names etc. Practice by writing down in your rough sheets.
- On the other side of pages of your class notebook, make your own note- try to write without looking at the book. If you can’t, its alright to take a peek.
(Do this, one topic at a time, in one setting. Take a break after you are done with one. Don’t haste just to get it over with. If you don’t feel like studying this particular day, its okay. Don’t study when you don’t want to. Spend your time charging up your spirits. But keep in mind, you got to catch up, the next day or on coming weekend.
This way, by the end of semester you will have a wonderful notebook for fast reading during exams. And a course book which you’d have familiarized yourself well with. Plus, you’d be fairly acquainted with all the topics. That’s more than half preparation for exams already done!
You ain’t got a date to go out with? Okay. But You sure got friends to fool around. Hang out, go watch a movie, talk love, talk matches, talk politics, talk about everything on earth(expect studies). Find time to rekindle with your old hobbies. Read novels, jam up with your guitar buddies, write poems. Better, go home to see your mom, dad if that’s possible. These are feel good factors. Have a life every weekend, because that keeps you going for rest of the week.
(During your final years, you will spend much time in the hospital. Doing evening wards and stuffs. Since you won’t get time to enjoy your weekday evenings like I said, make sure you have fun on weekends!)
But spare one weekend, one holiday every month to revise everything read and written since the last. Don’t take trouble mugging up. Just go through, one more time.
By clinicals I mean the clinical skills. You need to have sound clinical knowledge- the theory. Watch carefully and imitate in the wards. Learn the techniques. Keyword here is practice. Practice in patients, practice in mind. One particular thing I’d do was, I used to imagine I am with a patient and imagine myself doing the procedure. Step by step.
You can also write down all the steps and the manners they should be executed in a notebook- and while you practice on one friend (or patient) and ask another friend to watch with the notebook on hand. And mark the mistakes you made or steps you missed. Practice until it comes naturally to you. Do this and you will save a lot of time during exams.
We love holidays. Major holidays define our engagement by themselves, be it Dashain, Tihar, Eid or Christmas. We do what we are supposed to do. Its wonderful being with the family, after pretty long intervals. For me, every time I used to go back home, I used to feel huge sense of responsibility for the hopes and dreams my mom and dad saw had me. It made me feel guilty when I was living a careless/carefree life, not doing what I was supposed to do, not living upto their expectations . This sense of remorse, caught me hooked me up with devotion dedication stuffs. For how happy my mom and dad were to hear my good results- all the trouble I took, every efforts I made, all the time I spent with books- it made it all worthwhile.
Work hard, get good results. One sure shot way to make your parents proud of you. Now, you want that. Don’t you?
Plus, religious holidays give us time to foster our faith. To make promises to that Deity we believe in, and to ask for Good lucks. Goodluck’s good.
On other holidays that come scattered. Some you can relax. Some you got to keep your head down and study. Revise class notes. Make more notes. Clarify few topics by going through text books again and again. Try to remember the things to remember. Practice techniques. Just be loyal to yourself. You will know which
You can’t prepare well for exams right before the exam. Its preparation throughout the year. But the final touch matters. Prepare mentally for exams. Realize how big and important this is, and how sincere you have to be, but don’t get intimidated. Keep your cool. Did you do like I said all the time, last semester? If you did, I think this exam is going to be a piece of cake for you. And even if you didn’t (I myself did not, though I wish I did) there’s no reason to panic. Now don’t waste your time. This one month or something, eat book, sleep book , drink cocacola(trying to sound worldcup- such is the magnitude). Ignore things that disturb you, avoid thoughts that make you sad, bid farewell to activities that gulp your time. Still keep your feel good factors, like talking home or to your good friends.
Read every topic. Read notes you’ve made. Talk with seniors about important questions and discuss answers. Everyone have their own style of study. I like to sit on chair with ‘related’ books piled up on the table. Everything I might need to check out, within my range. I like reading and trying to remember the points while I scribble down on paper. And I start a topic and finish it. I make notes on pieces of paper and paste them all over my table and walls. ACRONYMS is something everybody is fond of and I like them too. I’d share some on my future posts. I like to study in a silent room. I’d like coffee too. This is my style. By now, you’d have your own preferences. Choose the style that suits you.
Just Before Exam
Eat good clean food. For the dinner night before, not much calorie but protein (yes I had googled it out). As for breakfast, I couldn’t go to exam hall on empty stomach. But some prefer to eat nothing. Suit yourself.
Sleep. At least four hours. Or at least sleep some.
In viva formats, its sometimes possible to know what questions examiners tend to ask. What patients are provided for short and long case examinations? Who’s the external? What has he specialized in? Internal? Good idea to go through his lectures one more time.
While you can take your time, think and then write for written form of exams, for viva and practicals, the reaction time is too little and often it so happens that you fail to tell something you know very well or blurt out something stupid. So your mental workout is got to be strong. When you walk down the hall towards the examiners, when your heart is thumping hard and fast, tell yourself this, ’I am going sit in front of them, they are going to ask me questions, and I’m gonna do ******* good.’ Confidence
And one more thing,