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Studying Quirks

I’m trying to get through the PreTest — Psychiatry. The format of the series divides each clerkship into chapters based on topics. There are questions in the beginning of the chapters with answers and explanations at the end of each chapter.

I keep telling myself to read through and answer all the questions first, then read through the explanations. But I keep giving in to the urge to check answers almost immediately after circling my answer.

I feel like I am slowing myself down. Can’t decide which is a better method. But it’s frustrating because I can’t stick to the method that I want to use!

But what probably is slowing down most of all is that I am taking the time to blog about it….

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Study, Study, Study

Kind of freaking out over exams. They start in a little over a week. Exams will take two weeks. Then I’ll have 2 weeks to study for Step 1, which is one of the licensing exams.

The Pathophysiology exam is on the 18th. It’s a cumulative exam with part one in the morning and part two after lunch. The picture above is the course syllabus. Close to 600 pages of the mechanism of diseases. I flipped through it and found a page that had zero markings. No highlighting, no annotations.

It freaked me out cause I thought I should know something about that topic. So I quickly turned to look at other marked up pages like the one pictured above.

Blah.. back to studying.

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Study Schedules

It has been a while since I wrote anything. This school year has been hectic. Mostly because I’m actually putting in a lot more studying. It’s a big difference when you “know” how to study.

If you have been following my posts for any significant period of time, you know that I have had to work on my studying techniques. A few months ago I uploaded a video showing a sampling of my pharmacology notes. To be honest, my recent pharmacology notes aren’t as intricate, but I still try to incorporate some of those techniques in some form or fashion.

Recently I went to Kinkos to get these posters printed and laminated. They are each at least 24 inches wide and close to 28 inches tall. They hang side-by-side on my closet doors.


I have found that this really helps me get organized as far as studying goes. It is definitely not for everyone. But it has helped quite a bit in reigning in the chronic procrastinator in me.

The right side shows the six weeks leading up to and including an exam week. There I can circle and mark off lectures I have studied and am comfortable with or those that I need to spend more time on. The left poster is a black daily schedule. Each night I plan out exactly what I am going to cover during each hour.

I have found that this type of detailed planning really helps me keep moving. It is too easy (at least for me) to start studying and then get lost in the material and then realize that I have spent too much time on one subject. This process keeps me moving at a good pace.

Also, being able to visualize all the lectures really helps me in figuring out how much I need to study and how much time I will need to cover the material.

And that’s all for this posting. Test week opens with an exam Tuesday morning for Pathophysiology. Wish me luck.

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Consider the Cow

Pastor Nick, a friend of mine, tweeted this:

Anyone else realize that they need to “chew the cud” when it comes to meditating on Scripture? (link)

cowAs I read that tweet I had a mental image of a cow chewing. And chewing. And chewing. All to properly digest its food.

It reminded me of something that King Solomon is credited with saying, “Go to the ant… Consider her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6, NKJV).

I tweeted back that Nick should write a blog entry titled “Consider The Cow,” but as soon as I sent that I wanted to use it. Because while Nick tweeted about needing to “chew the cud” in the context of meditating on scripture, I think it is also the very thing we need to do as medical students.

With the sheer amounts of information thrown at us it is very easy to try and speed through the various reading assignments. But when trying to memorize, repetition is the key. Slowing down and taking time is paramount (although one cannot be too slow). Without doing so, the material is quickly forgotten — or at least the details eventually slip away.

And as they say, the devil is in the details. It will be the little things that trip us up on an exam. When considering a clinical case, one little detail can mean the difference between a diagnosis of schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder.

So go to the cow. Consider her ways, and be wise! Take time to process the material and linger a few moments longer on the little details that help to differentiate (and here I am writing this for me more than anyone else).

Now if the details are that important, if they can lead to making man whole — or at least helping them get better — then would that mean that God is in the details?

I suppose that would be a topic best left to the philosophy and theology bloggers…

Me? I’ll just put up my brand new cow poster. And every time I see it I will remember to slow down and properly digest my “food.”

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Studying Pharm — A Look At My Notes

“They” say that one way to aid memorization is to use drawings and diagrams (the crazier and more vivid, the better) because the brain more easily remembers spacial relationships that just straight lists. So as I have started this second year of medical school I am studying in a totally different way than I have in the past and using a lot of drawing/diagrams and writing out of my own notes.

Here is what my Pharmacology notes look like. It is the drug list for the autonomic drugs I need to know.

Sorry for the blurry video. I didn’t realize the video was out of focus until after I was done. The Flip Ultra doesn’t do very well this close to an object.

Hopefully I will be able to continue doing this throughout the year. I think it will really help me with the memorizing. If I can push through every day and avoid getting too far behind, I think the chances look good.

Again, sorry for the vid being blurry. If I do this again I’ll film from farther away or use my other camcorder.