February 22, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
So you’ve been admitted to your dream medical school, and classes are about to begin. You’ll be swamped with reading assignments and subsequent exams on the mountains of medical knowledge you’re expected to learn and embody. How best to manage your workload in medical school? Here are a few tips to help you keep your cool, manage your time, and even love your medical school textbooks.
Pick Your Location and Time Frame
After a long day of lectures, studying may be the last thing you’ll feel like doing. Because you are your own boss in medical school, with no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you are doing your work, it’s up to you to generate your own motivation. You need to OWN medical school and all it entails. Identify the best time and location for your studying. Are you a morning person? Night owl? Like coffee shops? Prefer the quiet of your apartment? You might need to experiment with multiple study times and locations before you identify the best one for you; medical school requires a different mindset than undergrad, and what worked before might not work now.
Active Engagement with the Reading
Active reading strategies will be your best friends as you tackle those massive medical school textbooks. You’ll not want to have to reread those giant tomes more than once, so taking detailed, organized notes will allow you to create a portable study guide that you can keep with you to supplement and review in your free moments. Armin Kamyab, MD, has literally written the book on how to study for medical school, and he strongly recommends these active note-taking techniques. Summaries are crucial for you to understand the big-picture concepts covered in your lectures, and additional details added later will guarantee that you have a solid grasp of the required materials.
In medical school, everyone is taking the same classes, and though competition is fierce, finding like-minded classmates with whom to form a study group can add value to your independent study habits. Quiz each other, teach each other, fill in gaps in knowledge, and celebrate your success as you learn the materials.
Discipline and Reward
It’s nearly impossible to be on your study game 100% of the time. You’ll need to step away from the textbooks to allow your brain an opportunity to integrate the materials you’ve learned. A good night’s sleep after hours of studying has been proven to impact retention levels and performance the following day. A little levity and fun will give you the energy to return to your studies with a clear mind. Keep those rewards healthy and energizing (booze and greasy food taste great but will they really nourish your mind?).
Know that medical schools has invested a great amount of time, money, and energy just to recruit you into their programs. No one wants to see you fail out of medical school. Your failure impacts a medical school’s statistics and ratings. Programs are in place for your success, and all you have to do is seek them out. If you allow yourself the space to be brilliant and brave, medical school itself will be the ultimate reward. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.