Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Semester 1 Reflections

Semester one is over and as I look back I feel proud of what I have accomplished this far. Medical school is hard, it’s even harder with a spouse then you add a 5 year old spirited daughter in kindergarten and you have total chaos. There are a few moms here that are even braver then me; two of them have 3 children each. I can't imagine! I have so much respect for them. So what have I learned?

1.      The semester is super short. 13 weeks fly’s by in an instant and there is absolutely zero time to fall behind. You must begin studying from the very first day. For me after each lecture I would sit down and dissect it. Try and figure out what is the most important “high yield” information. I would transform the power point lecture into a one page study product, writing down only the most important information, using diagrams, creating concept maps, and most importantly it was in my own words. This is not easy and it does take time. You get better and better at it. Once my study product was complete I felt that I really knew the information well. Now it was time to test myself by doing some practice questions (there are lots of resources for questions, going to talk about this later). If a certain piece of information popped up that I for some reason left out of my study sheet I would write it down and see how it fits in and why I didn’t include it in the first place. I found this to be extremely effective.  Especially as I got better at it towards the end. My grades reflected this as my lowest score was at the very beginning and my highest at the end.  On the weekends I would review my study sheets and write them out again on the whiteboard or rewrite them. Before the test I would study off my sheets instead of the power point. Again, I must stress that this worked for ME and everyone must find their own way.

2.      Practice questions: There is a large bank of test questions that you can get from the G drive. A lot of professors will also post practice questions after their lectures. DO THEM
ALL. This is the best way to gage yourself and how much you know and if you are studying the right information. It’s important to do questions after you’re done studying the lecture and a few days later. I wouldn’t advise leaving the questions until the end. As far as step books and practice questions, most of them are really good and I will post some links to my favorite ones but I would only use these after I have done the professor and academic success questions. The main reason for this is that those questions were written by OUR professors so you get a better feel for the type of test questions you will see and the material you are expected to know.

3.      Tutoring: I was fortunate enough to find a group of tutors that was fantastic. It was a really small group and I learned a lot. It was a great way to reinforce the information from the week. People always wonder “well how do I know what the most important information is?” well let me tell you: it’s by going to tutoring. They summarize the lectures for you. It serves as a great example of how to structure your study sheets and pick out the important information. I fully credit my wonderful tutors for my improvement in this skill.  Tutoring was every week for 2 hours and the key is to find someone you like and learn from. I never missed a week.

4.      Review, review, review! It is imperative to review the information several times (3-5)
before the exam. This is after you have studied it. Only way to do this is if you have it condensed. It’s also important to note that you can’t just passively review by reading the information over and over again. You need to write it out, talk it out, and revise it. Be a more active learner.

5.      To mediasite or not to mediasite: It’s entirely individual. I have tried both and honestly I found mediasiting only the most beneficial for me because I can double speed/pause/rewind etc. This gave me more time to study and review. This is not for everyone and you have to be very self motivated. No matter what you decide to do, DO NOT DO BOTH. There is no time to go to lecture then mediasite every lecture. I had friends that did this and things did not end well. If you go to class mediasite should be used as a resource when you just need to hear a concept again or you didn’t catch an important point, sort of like your rewind button.

6.      The most important thing I feel I learned is after the first exam and every consecutive
exam to reevaluate yourself and improve your study habits. Reflect back on what worked and what didn’t and if it didn’t work change it immediately. You are in charge of your own destiny.

Don't forget to take a time out and enjoy the beauty of life!


Anonymous said...

Hello from a TX prospective MD student,

If you get time can you post some info on your background. I read you were a RN and was going to school prior to acceptance. How much RN experience did you have and what type of degrees did you have ASN, BSN, also what MD pre-requiste program did you do? Any advice for preparing for MCAT? Does the testing process for MCAT compare to NCLEX in difficulty? Do you find the same type of tests in MD school as nursing school where we are tested more on comprehension type questions versus memory questions or vice versa? Are questions phrased as pick all answers that apply or usually just one of a multitude of answers? I am soon to be a new grad BSN considering going to a post bac certificate program at UNT. Then immediately applying to MD, DO, schools. Due to my age 44 I feel I am facing tremedous odds but must go for it anyway. I find your blog inspiring and educational and wish you the best!
If you find any time for answers to these I would greatly appreciate the info. If not I totally understand stay focussed on school and kick butt!
from Jakal

MOM2MD said...

Dear Jakal,

Thank you so much for your comment and encouragement. I made a posting addressing your questions. As far as your age, I just wanted to let you know that here at Ross we have a lot of "older" students. I personally have several friends in their 40s here and they are doing well. Just remember that age is not important when it comes to your dreams.