Being a medical student is challenging and hard, especially when it comes to learning all the volume needed to pass the clinical exams. However studying is basically a way and assimilating what you need in order to pass exams. Its a step by step process at deciphering information.
1.Learn how to manage your time
The most important skill you will have to manage as a medical student is time management. Time in medicine is limited and precious, therefore managing your time efficiently is a skill to effectively use time wisely and not leave everything before the exam period or study week.
To study as you wake up, when you eat and before you go to bed can be extremely important as you can manage to revise a huge chunk of information from your phone. so carry your phone with you and if you have 2hrs to kill on a plane, train, car or that movie interval just revise some hard topics and make some Anki flashcards and review them later.
Great mobile apps for time management include Google calendar (already on most google devices), Tick Tick and Toggl. I find that Toggl was a pretty easy app to use, that helped me stay motivated and that also helps you evaluate where your time is being wasted, also uses a similar calendar setup like the one Google uses.
2. Network Network Network
Medical school isn’t only about studying and getting grades, its about developing soft skills and networking. Networking can help you obtain past papers, get answers other students gave to complex questions, form groups to study with and make life in medschool less boring and more fun.
Network your butt off and organize stuff as teams/groups.
Great ideas for networking are setting up weekend Trips, putlocks, pick nicks or just a meet up at your local gym or coffee shops and enjoy some great coffee and some good food while you discuss and contemplate topics that have been bothering you. (COVid restrictions apply as of 2020)
Medical students seem to be overly focused on studying. Studying is needed to pass the exams however if you don’t network at university when will you?
During my pharmacy course and medical course i met loads of people from Law school, business, accounting, architecture, medicine, geographical societies, psychology and the arts. Networking helps to diversify your thinking and your become less subjective to the reality around you. Meeting loads of people generates and open mind.
From my networking I grew my interest in languages, an area I never had an interest in before and that’s how I started studying Japanese during university. One of the guys i met during my networking events was formerly a banker turned software developer, who also inspired me to try to study some coding and blogging at least a few times per week. I am now studying HTML5, CSS3 and Programming in C.
3. Listen to your seniors find a Medical buddy
Our medical school in Malta had a medical biddy system that was a great way to help out younger students with queries and problems they would encounter especially its a great amount of help in your clinical years!
Having an older medical student guide you is a blessing, as they would have gone through the exam process and would have gained experience on the wards. possible you are more likely to learn from a senior medical student than a consultant as they would have more time to meet up and help out and less work commitments.
4. Use free online resources
There are loads of free online resources for medical students, such as blogs, YouTube videos and question banks. The best way to learn a subject is by far spaced repetition and the use of mind maps and flashcards. Systems like Anki help you create free flashcards that can be easily reviewed later on the phone, tablet or laptop.
Online flashcards and note taking apps help you to learn how to summarize a huge chunk of information in a short period of time.
Youtube videos are totally free and you can find awsome amounts of information covering all topics. Great channels include Geeky Medics, Osmosis, Armando Hasudungan, Dr Najeeb and human anatomy education (basically anatomy, anatomical sections and surgical anatomy).
5. Get hands-on experience early on
Although reading books is great, if your really want the learn medicine you must practice on the wards, dummies or on fellow students!
Medicine is a practical skill, you’ll need to learn skills such as listening to heart sounds, murmurs, neurological examinations and there is no way of learning these unless you get down and start examining patients and going to live anatomical dissections.
Peer teaching is a great way to learn and buy teaching others you learn the most. Peer teaching involves prepping lessons and helping out your professors to teach groups in the lower years. I managed to learn the most jsut by teaching others. Skills that can be obtained from peer teaching includes:
- Coding and website development
- MCQs building
- Public speaking skills
- Teaching skills
- and language and translation
Peer teaching although challenging will help you learn through teaching and examination of a part of a topic, teaching helps not only to simplify the subject but helps you picture it better, as you summarize and teach, you yourself start learning. If you can simplify it then you know it!
Of Course these are just a few tips to help you through your medical school journey. loads of other resources are available online and with the increasing use of technology medicine is becoming easier to study and technology can help you dissect all that knowledge into smaller chunks.