medschool

The Memory Trick Every Med Student Should Know

Anyone studying medicine knows that there is a ton of information that you need to just buckle down and memorize. Sure, you’ve tried the obvious strategies for remembering tricky facts — like mnemonics or repetition — but sometimes you need more than this basic toolkit to get through the next examination. One solution to this problem comes courtesy of Shiv Gaglani, an MD/MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School, who recently wrote for Fast Company about his personal memory trick that has helped him throughout his academic career. Utilizing the principles of association, Gaglani recommends mentally attaching new facts to stories, as they hold more psychological significance than a mere mnemonic. To illustrate the trick, Gaglani explains that he will always remember that one side effect of bleomycin is pulmonary fibrosis because he recalls how then-upstart cyclist Lance Armstrong declined the cancer treatment in 1996 in fear of scarring his lungs. Whenever possible, Gaglani writes, he attempts to marry facts with associations stronger than the average nonsense phrase used by decades of students. And so the idea for Osmosis was born. This side project of Galani’s is a “web-based platform that, among other things, automatically recommends associations” for any topic that a medical student would need to memorize. The online tool is still in the beta phase, but Gaglani writes that he expects it to continue growing. “We’re focusing on...

Tomorrow is My First Med School Interview

Tomorrow is my first med school interview, and I am sh*ting my pants a little. If you’re in med school, you’re probably laughing and reminiscing, taking pleasure in my uneasiness while also sympathizing with me because it was you in my position just a few years ago. If you are applying this year but haven’t yet heard about interviews, please don’t hate me, your time will come. If you’re still a premed, in the early days of intro to bio, cramming over your book, trying with all your might to remember the difference between the xylem and the phloem (mmm…plant bio, so useful…), here’s to there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Cheers. Maybe I’ll have a beer beforehand… So, what have I done to prepare and what is my game plan? 1. Be Honest: I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to speak with a doctor who works for a medical school. He gave me a pointer that I have been repeating to myself all week: “If you are honest, you don’t have to practice. Because you’re speaking the truth.” 2. Be Confident: YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. If you are sitting in the interview chair, the admission committee saw something in you. Whether that be your academics, your MCAT score, your research, your participation on an athletic team, in a...

The DO’s and DON’Ts of Study Groups

One of the most common questions among MS-I students is whether or not they should consider utilizing study groups. Study groups can be an excellent resource during medical school, but be sure to keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:   DO set a routine schedule for the week well in advance. Study groups work best when everyone knows exactly when they should meet and what topics to prepare for discussion. DON’T be unflexible. Things will inevitably come up that will disturb your meeting schedule. Try your best to reschedule rather than skip meetings all together. On the flip side, if your study partners are taking your schedule into consideration when making plans, it is important to honor your commitments to the group as best as you can.   DO invite classmates to join your study group. No one likes a clique. DON’T go overboard. Group sizes above six tend to make schedule planning more complicated. More importantly, remember that good friends don’t necessarily make good study partners.   DO have defined roles. Knowing who is good at writing on the board, drawing helpful diagrams, taking group notes, explaining complex cases, etc. can be extremely valuable to improving the efficiency of your study group. DON’T take advantage of any single person. For example, even if one person in the group tends to take the best notes during class,...

How to Train Your Dragon in the 21st Century

You know what you never see on Grey’s Anatomy? McDreamy sitting down at 3 am to dictate on a patient. Or write a note in their chart. Hell, I don’t even remember seeing a doctor on that show even look at a patient’s chart, let alone glean any valuable information from it.  And you know why? Because it ain’t glamorous. No one becomes a doctor because they love to document. But the reality is, whether or not you enjoy it, documenting on patients is one of the most vital aspects of treating them– and, of course, getting paid. Often, it’s the latter that get’s a physician’s butt in gear when it comes to completing their deficient dictation on patients. You young people, freshly minted MD’s, are probably thinking, “No! I’ll never be like that! I’ll document really well and make my patient’s care transitions seamless! Coders and billers will love me!” Actually, if you’re like most noobs, you’re probably thinking, “What? You mean I have to do the things to my patients and then write down all the things I do to prove I did the thing? Why do I have to justify doing the thing? Can’t I just do the things?” No, Dr. Noob. You cannot just do the things. And it’s not because we don’t trust you, or don’t think you’re making good choices. It’s just because...

How Cartoons Helped This Student Pass Her Boards

Congratulations to all of our MS2 who recently took the dreaded USMLE 1 Exam!  Unfortunately, much of medical school is about memorization – but believe it or not, there is a science to memorization. I learned this from one of our students who describes her experience meeting a ‘memory champion’ and picked his brain for some memory tricks for Step 1, including cartoon images. As I’ll be speaking at the upcoming Comics in Medicine conference here in Chicago this weekend, it seemed fitting to let her describe her journey. The following was written by Gabrielle Schaefer… Right around the time I was beginning an epic five-week studying stint to prepare for STEP 1 of the Boards, Joshua Foer happened to be a guest on The Colbert Report (my go-to 20 minute study break). Joshua Foer is this ridiculously young and talented journalist who won the US Memory Championships (yes, this exists). If his name sounds familiar you may be thinking of Jonathan Foer, his equally talented older brother who is also a writer. Anyway, Joshua Foer was promoting his recently released book “Moonwalking with Einstein:  The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.” The book is about memory and his adventures in the world of memory competitions. Apparently there is a small group of people who get together each year and have memory competitions which consist of several memory “events” including faces of strangers, poetry, random words, numbers, binary...

10 Things That Keep Med Students Up At Night

Sleep is cherished by medical students especially because there is often little time for it. And, when there finally is time to catch some precious Zs, there are several things that stand in the way.   The 10 things that keep med students up at night are…   1. Exams- this is seriously the last time you’re going to procrastinate studying in med school. 2. WebMD- your girl tagged you in a photo from last weekend, and it kind of looks like you have adult retinoblastoma. Now you are TERRIFIED. 3. Facebook- you’re really, really going to get serious about that exam after you browse through all of your hot ortho resident’s college lacrosse photos. 4. Google- you’re just too afraid to tell your attending on rounds tomorrow that the answer to his obscure question doesn’t exist. 5. Pubmed- you’re not 100% sure that you know how to search correctly, but the answer doesn’t seem to be there either. 6. NBME website- you just know your step I/II results will be here 3-4 weeks early, so you check every single night…multiple times a night. 7. SDN- your step I score isn’t there, so you refresh the SDN Official Step I Scores and Experiences thread until someone posts something at 8:01 am E.T.  on release day. 8. 24 hour call- it’s 3:00 am in the OR and you’re trying to remain conscious to avoid dropping the retractor or...

The Devil Wears Scrubs

Dr. Fizzy of A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor presents her new book about the hell that is intern year….     “Newly minted doctor Jane McGill is in hell. Not literally, of course. But between her drug addict patients, sleepless nights on call, and battling wits with the sadistic yet charming Sexy Surgeon, Jane can’t imagine an afterlife much worse than her first month of medical internship at County Hospital. And then there’s the devil herself: Jane’s senior resident Dr. Alyssa Morgan. When Alyssa becomes absolutely hell-bent on making her new interns pay tenfold for the deadly sin of incompetence, Jane starts to worry that she may not make it through the year with her soul or her sanity still intact.”   Featured image taken from Flickr | the...