medschool

“Memory Hacks” Part I: The Baker/baker Paradox

What can medical education take away from a USA Memory Champion?! In 2006, Joshua Foer won the USA Memory Championships by, among other things, memorizing the order of a 52 card deck in a staggering 1 minute and 40 seconds. Other events in the competition included remembering the most names of strangers and reciting the most lines of poetry. Perhaps more astounding is that Foer had been covering the event as a journalist in 2005 and, in just one year, had trained himself to the level of USA champion.  Foer chronicled his incredible journey in a New York Times bestseller, Moonwalking with Einstein, and a famous TED talk watched over 250,000 times. Medical students are often told during the first-week of school that studying will be “like drinking water from a firehose”. Indeed, the pace and volume are certainly ramped up in comparison to college. While a 4-unit class at UC Santa Barbara would cover 30 hours of material over a 10-week period, exams at my medical school typically engrossed 35 hours of lecture crammed into a mere 2 weeks. Breaking down the lectures, I found between 15-20 testable details in each lecture making for 525-700 items to learn for each exam. Tracking the hours I spent studying for an exam showed I was spending about 75 hours in order to memorize up to 700 testable points. The fact...

Molecular Movies: A Visual Study Aid

The start of med school can be tricky. A syllabus that could have taken months at your undergraduate institution can be condensed into just a few weeks. Figuring out how to keep up with all the information is tough, especially because every person learns differently. And to top it all off, there are no shortage of study aids from review books to flash cards to apps. What’s a newbie med student to do? If you’re the kind of person that learns best visually, then we may have the perfect fix for you: molecularmovies.com. It’s basically a website that has aggregated many of the best educational animations out there on the web for topics in biology and medicine. If you’re someone like me, trying to figure out cell biology or biochemistry by interpreting the movement of molecules from words on a page can be daunting. But a short animation can really help make the relationships and interactions memorable. This site takes away all the hassle of having to search on youtube/google by giving you the best animations topic by topic. Here are a couple of examples from the site: DNA Replication: Breast Stem Cells: The Whole Brain Catalog: There are many more categories including: Apoptosis, Viruses, Development, the Immune System, etc. Note: Some of the links may not be working on this site, but overall, it’s a pretty expansive playlist. Featured...

The 7 Most Awkward Conversations Overheard During Med School Orientation

Oh, orientation. Between the rush of meeting so many new people, the copious amounts of alcohol and the lectures on how not to get hep C during your time on the wards (hint: don’t stab yourself with needles you find on the floor), orientation helps create the perfect environment for the occasional awkward conversation. Here I catalog some of the best ones I was privileged enough to overhear this week.  Number Seven Bro 1: You know how at every med school orientation there is that one bro who gets way too friendly with all the girls? That bro lives in infamy for the next four years. I bet that if you can’t name that guy off the top of your head, chances are you are that bro. Bro 2: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m that bro. Don’t worry, there are support groups on campus, bro. Number Six Girl: I’m definitely considering campaigning for our class’s social chair. When I was an RA in college, I used to host these sick study breaks all based on fruit themes: bananas, strawberries, pineapples, all the best fruits out there.  For Chinese New Year, I did one with the dragon fruit and I spent like $500 on getting fruit directly from China and it was so awesome because I made everyone dress up as a dragon fruit. I really think I could pull...

Wild Worries of a Med Student

I lost my pager a few weeks ago. For most, the pager is a vestigial apparatus from the days before mobile phones, wireless, and permanent connectivity. But there was a dark time, not so long ago, when pagers were the only handheld device that worked in hospitals. Those black blocks managed to transmit signals, traveling, like Buzz Lightyear, to infinity and beyond. In some basement corridors, they still outperform iPhones, Blackberries, and possibly landlines. Imagine a flamingo without the pink, an elephant without its trunk, or a toilet without toilet paper. That’s a medical student without its pager. At first, I was resigned. I informed all and sundry, “dude, I lost my pager.” At first, it was refreshing. But soon, I became persona non grata on my team… the annoying person who had to be contacted through email or patchy 4G. I felt like a puppy without a leash. A few weeks in, it was becoming evident that I could not continue like this. In fact, it was blatant that I had neglected to replace my pager. The place where my pager used to be mocked me. It haunted my right pocket like a mournful ghost. I constantly reached for the phantom and made contact with air. Air and a hollow plastic case, clipped to my white coat, empty and silent. My phone dropped texts when I wandered the subterranean hospital...

7 Ways to Survive a Pimpin’

The term “pimping” was first used in 1628 by a London doctor named Harvey. “They know nothing of Natural Philosophy, these pinheads,” he wrote. “Drunkards, sloths, their bellies filled with Mead and Ale. O, that I might see them pimped!” Though certain aspects of this particularly caustic statement may in fact  hold true to this day, the term may not stir many fond memories among those in the medical community. Pimping occurs when an attending asks a series of extremely difficult questions, in rapid-fire succession, to an intern or medical student. It is an age-old tradition, perhaps as old as medicine itself, yet the experience still overwhelms even the most courageous of interns. Here are 7 tips to make a pimping a little less painful. 7. Practice The pressure of answering extremely difficult medical questions in front of peers (and oftentimes patients) will get to anyone. The key to dealing with this is practice. So grab a book and a friend, flip to that section of your case, and have them drill you like there’s no tomorrow. 6. The Bathroom Refresher Excuse yourself from surgery, blaming that troublesome overactive bladder of yours. Bring your book or phone. Cram. Sidle back in armed to the teeth with answers. 5. If you don’t know the answer, don’t try and make it up. Offer to look it up and discuss it the next time you have rounds. Show...

Crosswords for Incoming M2s

This summer has been a hot one, for sure! While it’s great to relax and enjoy the summer heat, now it’s time for all you med students to warm up something else…your brain! This fun crossword puzzle is a fun way to refresh your memory on some valuable med school info so that your return to school (right around the corner) will be as smooth as the waves you were surfing this summer. Click on the links to download and print the crossword puzzle and answer key (two separate links so you don’t take an early peek).       Click here for the crossword and clues.   Click here for the answer...

An “Infectious” Video Game…That Won’t Give You a Virus

I haven’t yet started med school, hence the “almost” preceding my “MD,” but as an aspiring doc, I am always interested in the newest ways in which people can learn and teach others. Some people learn best through drawing cartoons and some through comic book stories but sometimes a more interactive approach is necessary. That’s where Microbe Invader comes into play [editor’s note: no pun intended]. This interactive, infectious disease-learning game prompts you to enter your name and gender and VOILA! you are a med student at “Happy Hospital” with a name badge and everything. My day began peacefully in my home, where I decided I wanted a sandwich before I began my first day of clinical rotations with Dr. Taylor, my infectious disease doc.   But I was hungry and I do my best learning after my morning custard   I quickly realized the custard was bad…   But made it to the clinic after a good bit of time. My attending even gave me a good scolding [editor’s note: too realistic?]. This is where my actual learning began. The game prompted me to speak with Dr. Taylor who explained to me that I was to see a patient and order tests, make diagnoses, and even provide treatment. She even directed to me to the clinic library, where I was provided valuable information about different bacteria and viruses. My first...

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