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“You will feel like you do not belong. You will have moments when you question your choice to be here. You will feel incompetent. You will see, hear, and do things that will challenge yourself in this profession. Simply put, third year is hard. You will feel miserable. The year is a systematic destruction of the soul. But in the end, you are rebuilt.”—A resident reflects on the process of third year.
Memory Tricks For Medical Students
- Write it down. It can be during a lecture or while reading a text. Don’t try to copy the entire paragraph from a book. Write short notes- simple, easy to understand, and straightforward. You can even use flashcards or website like Quizlet. Outlines, pens with different colors, drawings, or even highlighters can also help. This can help you create “cheat sheets” that you can easily recreate from memory during exams.
- Experience it. Why do you need to go into a lab and dissect a cadaver for anatomy class? Why must you go through clinical rotations before graduation? It is because you best remember what you learn through an experience. When you are confuse about definitions like adduction and abduction, just do those actions while recalling the terms until you are confident.
- Watch it. There are many videos that were created to help medical student memorize textbook information. Yes, they can be corny and horrible but they can also work wonder. Have you tried singing those medical songs? There are places such as Nucleus Medical Media and ORLive too. If your professors do not teach in a way that suits your style, you can listen into lectures of the same subjects from different school too on YouTube Education or the school’s website. iTunes may even have their podcasts.
- Roman room system. It is similar to drawing a mind map where you draw the main subject in the center and branches of associated information. Instead, you are using a room or a house. Then you put various objects and associate those with information you want to remember. Afterwards, you can imagine yourself trying to find those objects to retrieve the information. Takes practice but it can be quite helpful.
- Mnemonics. Initials can either help you or hurt you. Sometimes, people will end up remembering the initials but not their actual meaning. Some Lovers Try Position They Cannot Handle, for example. Try to come up with your own or the ones that work best for you. You may also substitute stories with mnemonics instead.
- Repetition. Sometimes, you may just have to shove that information forcefully through repetition. There can be no other way around it. You need a routine. You want it to be in your long time memory, not a short one. You can even try teaching it to others.
- Organization. You need to be able to organize your notes (handwriting!), thoughts, study breaks, study spaces, and even relationships. You only have to be organize to yourself. Make you sure you can explain to others so they too can understand you, especially in relationships. If you have a
horribleillegible handwriting, practice calligraphy before going into clinical portions…for the patients’ safety.
- Application of knowledge. Before taking board exams, professors and other medical students recommend doing LOTS of practice questions (USMLEWorld or Kaplan) so you can practice, know what to expect and work on your weaknesses. They will also make you do physical examinations on each other for the same reason. It is part of the experiential learning style.
- Play brain games. I highly recommend Lumosity. But you can also play other games that will help you expand your ability to memorize and remember other things unrelated to your study. They are fun and entertaining. They may even help you relax and release your stress.
- Rest well. Sleep helps improve your memory. Period. Try not to cram the night before, if you can.
These tricks may work for some and not for others. I didn’t learn some of the tricks until after I finished basic sciences. The important thing is to search for techniques that work for you and keep it. What are some of the memory tricks you use for yourself?
“It is not about the biological therapies we give patients. It is not about the medicine. At the end of the day, it is about the relationship you forge with your patient and the trust and understanding that comes with that that dictates their compliance and willingness to continue.”—A psychiatrist discussing the importance of the therapeutic relationship.
Advice to Med Students: How To Impress a Resident/Attending (The Patient Care Episode)
Since a lot of you are about to start the clinical part of your training, and I’m about to get med students for the first time, I figured I’d put together a little how-to (in 3 episodes) with the help of my fellow residents.
- Take initiative with your patients. Know all their info: what meds they’re on, their labs, their histories, etc.
- Check back on your patients in the afternoon. Follow their labs or tests done during the day and think about what needs to be done about them. Otherwise you’ll find that a ton of stuff has happened the next day and you’ll be out of the loop.
- Have your notes written before the resident rounds so they can read them and hopefully give you feedback on them.
- Always attempt to write an assessment and plan on your notes, no matter how simple it is. “Continue current management” is usually not an acceptable plan. What needs to be done before this patient can go home?
- In surgery, always ask permission (preferably from the attending) to scrub in. I do this still as a resident. If they say yes, get your gloves and gown for the scrub tech because they’re probably not prepared for you.
- Ask to do procedures, but don’t expect to get them. The residents are always first in line. If it’s a procedure they’re confident doing and they have time to teach you, they’ll probably let you do it.
- If we ask if you want to do a procedure, always say yes. Even if you don’t want to.
- In the outpatient setting, always offer to help write the note. Rarely will a resident turn you down, and you will really help them out. They will still review and change it, but it will definitely help.
- Be available. You don’t have to be a shadow, but don’t expect your resident to call you for admissions/procedures/check out, because she will forget. If you haven’t heard from the resident in a while, check back in with them. She may have forgotten you were around and might send you home early!
Are you a poor student studying for the MCAT?
- 10 week ExamKrackers Schedule
- Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package (Searchable)
- Outlines [Biological Sciences] [Physical Sciences] [Verbal]
- Biology [audio (1) (2)] [lecture]
- Chemistry [audio] [lecture]
- Organic Chemistry
- Physics [audio] [lecture]
- Verbal Reasoning and Math
There are also videos but due to their size, I’m unable to upload them. If you really need videos, if this isn’t enough, please contact me and we can see if we can work something out.
How to Hit on Medical Students (or Get Their Attention)
- Go to the library.
50%75% of the time, you’ll see us studying in there. You can “accidentally” (some acting may be required) run into us there while acquiring new knowledge by borrowing books, studying your own subjects, or researching your passions. But the fact that you never stop learning turns us on.
- Volunteer your body for mock physical examination(s). We are supposed to learn how to observe, auscultate, palpate, and conduct couple of tests on a human body. Of course, we would like you to be available when the topic of phlebotomy comes along too.
- Don’t ask us about medical conditions just yet. It really is for your own good. Instead of giving you one diagnosis, we will give you several that may scare you enough to go see your primary care physician. Yes, most of us are hypochondriac even if we do not admit it. And no, we can’t give you drugs.
- Invite us to potluck. Wherever there is cheap or free food, you will find us. Give us food and you shall have a special place forever in our heart.
- Invite us to exercise. After studying, it’s nice to get a chance to work out. Let’s go for a run! We can even have a wrestling match. Or you can try the gym either early in the morning or late at night. If we refuse, remind us that exercise can boosts our memory and promotes better sleep. Sold!
- If you still can’t find us, have you tried Starbucks or a nearby cafe? Don’t forget to check the dark corners.
- Do ask about our experience so far as medical students. We will tell you how it is so you can get the idea of what we do on regular basis. From here, you can probably judge how much free time we have and what our schedule is like. You will also quickly find out if we have the “half-empty” or “half-full” attitude based on our answer.
- Let us sleep. It is rather important…
- Become our cheerleader. There will be times when we become stressed out or bummed about our test scores. Our confidence may even decrease. It is definitely nice when you show up with a cheer-up package (Please use your imagination for this part).
- Ask us out on a date. We will give you hundred of reasons not to date us. You find that one reason strong enough to change our mind. But remember, “dating” definition may be different for everyone. It may not mean we want to be in a relationship with you. Be patient. We will let you know when we are ready. And when we are…that will be another story.
Do you have any tips on how people can hit on medical students (or at least get our attention)? If so, what are they?
How to Impress a Resident / Attending (the Respect Episode)
- Even residents who were gunners hate other gunners. So just don’t be one. If the resident tells you to go home at 4:30, for heaven’s sake, go home. They probably have run out of things to teach you for the day, and they have work they need to get done with peace and quiet. If they tell you to leave, they’re not going to rat you out for leaving early.
- Get to know your resident as much as you can. Don’t take up work time, but when there’s downtime, don’t disappear immediately. Have a conversation.
- Stay out of the way. This will be hard to do because you will always feel like you’re in the way. I still feel like I’m in the way as a resident.
- If there are no chairs available and a nurse, attending, or resident needs one, you are expected to give yours up. This is something I still practice, and it weirds me out when nurses offer me their chairs.
- Don’t steal the resident or attending’s computer. And don’t log them out.
- Don’t misrepresent yourself to your patients. They should understand that you are not a doctor yet.
- Be a team player. Don’t fight other students for procedures or throw them under the bus. If we perceive that you are trying to tear down your fellow students, our opinion of you will automatically fall. Help other students when they’re slammed. Remember, attendings are looking for good things to say about you in a letter of rec, and programs love residents who are easy to work with.
- Don’t try to teach your resident. We already know you’re smarter than we are. You’re closer to step 1 than we are. But we have plenty to teach you.
- Ask your residents for advice about residency applications, clerkships, whatever. It’s flattering to us.
Things (I) Learn From My Patients
All these stories are Emergency Medicine Department (ER) stories borrowed (and cleaned up) from the forums over at studentdoctor.net. They’re just too good to pass up..
1) Never, ever leave flashlights, beer bottles or any other long, circular object on the floor because someday you will fall on it… and it will somehow impale its way up your rectum.
2) Always do woodwork with your skillsaw before using meth.
3) White latex paint, despite being luxuriously thick and creamy, does not coat your stomach and provide relief like pepto bismol does.
4) If you have taken 7 home pregnancy tests, and they’re all positive, when you come into the emergency department… chances are our test will come back positive too.
5) If you are given a prescription for narcotics, at least have the courtesy of leaving the lobby before you try to sell the pillz.
Anon Question: Being 'Good Enough' for Medicine
The answer is complex.
To me, you can never give enough or be good enough for medicine. It wants all of you. There is a strong “Keeping Up with the Jones’” attitude that pervades many medical attitudes and minds. You can let that drive you crazy or find a way to be okay with that. It is unfortunately ‘normal’ that people doubt themselves or find themselves in endless competition with their peers. A little healthy competition is fine, but it shouldn’t drive anyone crazy. So I have a different way of thinking about it:
I have learned to see medicine as not a symbol of perfected self, but as a calling. You don’t asked to be called. Something happened to you that made you susceptible to hearing it. It’s better than comparing yourself to some idol or vision of perfection in a white coat that you will never, ever be. A calling is for people who have a story to tell, a mission in life. And I think that’s something we should all have.
When you think of medicine as a calling, all you can do is give it your best shot. Sometimes you screw up and you want to stop. Some days you win life’s jackpot and nothing brings you down. Some days you are brought to your knees, humbled by what you have seen or experienced. Some days you fall to the ground and you feel like you can’t get up.
I’m not good enough for a lot of things; I don’t know if I’m good enough for medicine. In that way, I can’t answer your question and I apologize for that.
But what I do know? Everything that has happened to me has led me to medicine. It gives meaning to my experiences and ignites my passion. It gives me the tools to help those who need help. If I can take away a little pain and replace it with something better? I’m enough for myself and maybe enough for medicine.
My answer is way off the beaten path, I know. Thank you for your question!
Tips for Medical Students to Save Money
1. Student Perks- Just about every program, school, or organization has student perks that you can score. Some conferences and resources are free just because you’re in a medical school, like medical journals or various website memberships. To find out more offers, you should ask your peers or listen/read school’s announcements.
2. Sign up for your favorite store card membership- Do you find yourself going to one or two particular stores often? It is good to sign up for the store’s membership. You can get rewards for spending money, receive cash back, gain discounts, and improve your credit scores.
3. Hunt for local deals- Many businesses around your school knows that their potential customers are mostly going to be students. They will try to attract more attentions by giving you discounts. Have your student ID at all times! Groupon or Slickdeals work too. Don’t forget to look at the local’s or school’s newsletters.
4. Go to medical conferences- There will be freebies flying everywhere at the medical conventions and conferences. It’s a great way to find out about the latest technology going in the medical world and to meet new people. And I bet you can get in for free or inexpensively for being a medical student.
5. Eat at home- The less you eat out, the more you save. Buy in bulk will always be cheaper than buying one at a time.
6. Textbooks 2.0- Nowadays you can get the books online, check them out from the school’s library, or download applications right into your phone. Sometimes, you don’t even need to buy it since the schools provide them for you. If you must get books, get them used or from upperclassmen who had taken the course. If you want to invest, I suggest getting review books like the BRS series and/or First Aid. Ebay and Amazon still have the best deals.
7. You don’t need expensive supplies for clinical portion- Yes, Littmann stethoscopes are great. Getting the Lightweight or the Classic ones are sufficient enough for us to learn what we need. Once you graduate, you can get more expensive and higher quality of stethoscopes like Master Cardiology. Getting used ones aren’t so bad either. Students don’t even get the otoscopes anymore because its unnecessary (class/hospital usually have ones you can use) and expensive.
8. Visit thrift shops- You will definitely risk getting bodily fluids on your clothes even when you have your white coat on. You can find great selection for fraction of the prices you would pay in stores. Burlington, Walmart, or even Target will have cheap clothes too. And they can look real good. You don’t need to dress to impress (unless you’re going for interviews). Just need to look neat and professional. You know what, you’ll probably end up in scrubs most of the times anyway.
9. Barter- How about you buy me lunch and I’ll tutor you in Biochemistry?
10. Know your budget like the back of your hands- Be careful especially if you have debts or low credit score. Create weekly or monthly budget that you know you can live by and stick with it. Always pay off you credit card or loans if you can afford to do so. Free websites like CreditSesame to help you keep track of your credit scores and budgets.
What are some of the tips you have for saving money?