Monday, October 29, 2012

Studying for the Future

Ever since I've entered medical school, my definition of "future" has changed from dreaming about 10 years, 5 years, or even a couple years down the road to my plan for the week or even just tomorrow. I've also been tackling how to study. I think I've got a good rhythm for biochemistry and histology, but my biggest fear is with anatomy. I don't think I really understand exactly how to study with that.

Anyways, while I do agree that studying should be done smartly, that is quality over quantity, I think there really is a minimum number of hours that a student should put in each day until things start making sense, clicking, or just sticking to long-term/short-term memory. Around midterms time, I spent an entire day going over the nucleic acids in biochemistry. I also kept a stopwatch going of how long I'm actually studying. If I got up, went to the bathroom, drank water, printed notes, etc I would stop the stopwatch. So the time on that truly indicated how much I was sitting, actively studying the material. At the end of the day (around dinner time) I looked to see what it read. I don't quite remember exactly what it said it but it was somewhere between 4 - 5 hours. THAT's IT?!? I just spent the ENTIRE day when there's 8 hours that I thought I was studying! I only really studied for half that time!

That's when I realized that I am NOT putting in the time that I think I am. So ever since midterms completed, I've been timing myself while studying. For attending review groups - I give myself credit for half the time spent. I.e. if a review group is an hour long, I'll add 30 minutes to my studying time. The past couple of weeks have been a little embarrassing in regards to how much time I'm putting into studying.

Yesterday, I decided to do the timer tactic instead of the stopwatch. It worked SO much better! Maybe because it gave me something to look forward to..? Right now, I've been doing reps of 30 minute time intervals and then giving myself a 5-10 minute break between reps. I didn't exactly start doing this earlier in the day, but it ended up going okay. As I increase my stamina, I really want to increase my rep interval to 45 minutes. Hopefully soon, but that's not on my immediate goal list. In addition, I will be logging my studying hours here - so I feel ashamed if I wasn't productive. You guys will keep me accountable, right?! :)

  • Attended 2, 1-hour review groups (total 1 hour studying)
  • Studied for 5 hours
  • Total studying: 6 hours!
I don't necessarily think 6 hours is a bad number, but since it was a weekend, it should have been higher. In addition to studying, I attended dance practice for an hour and did my laundry. So, I'm content.

Plan for Today:
We randomly have a day off today, so my plan is to visit the anatomy lab for an hour or two and orient myself with the pelvis/perineum. We started lower limb on Friday and finish it on Thursday of this week. That's a total of 6 lectures! I really want to watch all 6 lectures online today. I know I'm being really ambitious, but I just want to finish them so I can start questions (which is where I actually learn the most). Oh by the way, watching/attending lectures does NOT count on my hours of studying. So here are my goals for the day:
  • Watch 6 lectures of Lower Limb (being really ambitious)
  • Make a general overview of the pathways thus completed in biochemistry
  • Finish pelvis/perineum questions
  • Finish lab cases for tomorrow


  1. I remember anatomy and having the same feeling. It is hard b/c it is a lot of straight memorization and if you aren't learning the other subjects in blocks at the same time (ie the phyiosology, histology etc) it makes it hard to link random structures together. All I can say is just put in the time - with flashcards, the cadavers, etc...I see they now have lots of nice websites with 3D pictures that seem really great (did not have these to the extent they are out there now when I was going through anatomy!) to help and seem even better than just staring at Netter. Try and link up with classmates to review to make it less monotonous. One of my future bridesmaids saved me with her version of the brachial plexus ;) I promise it does get easier.

  2. Thanks for your advice! I absolutely hate this class and hoping to just pass! Do you have any suggestions to study in a group with Anatomy? It's a little more clear-cut in the other subjects, but I just don't know how to do it with Anatomy. Let me know! Thanks for reading!

  3. You know I tried the group thing in anatomy for about 10 minutes before I decided it wasn't very helpful except for in the lab for structure review/practice tests (or if I didn't get a concept and wanted someone else to tell me how they understood it). When it came to memorizing I just went over Netter, Rohen (Get this book if you don't have it! It's cadaver photos), and flashcards (can't remember what kind but i know they weren't Netter, but Netter's look nice) a million times. What was also helpful was the TAs who were 2nd yrs who helped us know what was important for the test, what to focus on etc. Good luck!