Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

Passing’s not enough anymore

with 3 comments

I passed! I haven’t actually gotten my quiz back, but based on my group’s consensus on what the right answers were, I definitely passed the quiz.

But I don’t understand the material well enough yet, and I need to go back over that portion  we were tested on. Passing is important because it keeps me in school, but I really need to understand all of this.

It is incredibly intimidating being in medical school without a biology degree of some sort, especially when you have classmates who can honestly say, “That lecture yesterday? I could’ve done a much better job with that material.” My science background in general is rather limited (I didn’t even take high school bio, and then I just took a few classes in college). I have several classmates in my position, but I believe we are in the minority.

I started off biochemistry on the wrong foot, and I need to fix that. No prior foundation means that it takes me longer to get through the readings. I need to really focus and think about everything or it all goes straight over my head. Studying on Wednesday it all finally started to click, because I was forcing myself to understand. Before I would open the course packet, start to read,  then quickly get lost and unwilling to push on. I can’t let myself do that anymore. The material isn’t actually difficult, it’s just dense and there’s a lot of memorizing.

And there are no shortcuts. I think that’s an important concept to enter medical school with. If you did biology or something similar, you might know this already. I knew in theory, but it’s so different experiencing it. There is an incredible volume of information that I need to learn and retain.

How did I study for the quiz? I went through all the lecture notes (which is more like lecture text), and I would have re-watched the lectures except this is the one class that isn’t available online (which really, really bothers me because it’s the class that I’m struggling with the most and would love to be able to watch more than once). I made myself pay attention while I read, by making flash cards and by going through the list of concepts she wanted us to know and making sure I actually understood them before I moved on.

This is something I need to do earlier. I think doing this before each lecture would be the optimal situation. And then even better would be to go over the material after lecture (same day!). That would provide me with a good base from which to study from before the quizzes and the exams.

I am incredibly grateful that my first year is Pass/Fail, giving me the opportunity to finally learn how to study without worrying about grades.


Written by Aba

September 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. You know, graduate school is a wake-up call like that. After being in the top tier during my undergraduate degree, I thought I’d just sort of do the same thing in post-graduate studies. Nope. I find myself working harder than I ever have in order to try and retain information and just…well…keep up. There are many, many days when I come home disappointed, but also feeling rather dumb. We’re all there.

    I know you’ll do fine. You’re smart to identify these needs early and start working on them before it’s too late to change habit.


    September 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

    • I had that first kind of wake-up call in college, the “Wow, I am surrounded by so many other smart people!” feeling. And now I’m surrounded by an even more select group of people, but I’m used to knowing I’m probably not quite the smartest and definitely not the most hard working.

      What’s new is really wanting this. Really caring that I not only pass, but that I learn. And knowing that if I don’t learn, I’m not just failing myself, but my future patients.

      I know I’ll do fine, but I need to feel the pressure. I work well under pressure. I almost wish first year was a tiny bit harder because sometimes I need that fire lit under me to really get me going. =)

      Anyway, I’m sure you’ll do fine too, and I’m glad you’re enjoying graduate school! What is graduate school in the non-sciences (and I’m including social and computer sciences as sciences) like? I know nothing about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve heavily interacted with people not doing a science or heading into professional school of some sort. Weird. I hadn’t explicitly realized that.


      September 18, 2009 at 7:12 pm

  2. In terms of *having* to learn things, it’s not much different. What *is* different, though, is the type of work we do. I read about 500 pages a week, and I have to come prepared to defend myself in small seminar classes. We engage in heavy–and sometimes explosive–debates, which is fun, but you have to think quickly on your feet to avoid being blown out of the water.

    Our work is also different. We’re writing 40 page papers to present at conferences all over the country. You know, just different professions.


    September 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

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