Studying

Goodbye 2nd Year, Hello Step 1!

I am officially done with my 2nd year of medical school! Surreal! We had our last exam on Thursday and as soon as I clicked submit, it was like, “Whoaaa, this is really it!” Blessings!

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And now it’s time for Step 1 studying.

We have exploration week this week (i.e. exploring/ shadowing different specialties) so my dedicated study schedule doesn’t start until Monday, Feb 19. As I mentioned in my last post though, I’ve been doing UWorld questions throughout 2nd year. I’m not quite done with my first pass yet, but I’m aiming to be done by this Sunday. I’m so close!

The main resources I’ll be using for Step studying are:

  • USMLE World (UWorld) question bank
  • First Aid 2018
  • Pathoma
  • Sketchy Pharm + Micro (to brush up/ as needed)
  • Goljan pathology audio (while doing cardio at the gym)

I also have the following resources as well but I’m not sure if I’ll use them during this study period (aka I don’t want to overwhelm myself with too many resources): BRS Physiology, USMLE Secrets, Boards & Beyond, and Kaplan question bank (already subscribed, so if time permits).

We had a Step 1 Q&A session today with 3rd and 4th year medical students and hearing about their experiences definitely reinforced that these next couple of weeks are going be REAL! Prayers definitely needed. My goal is to stay consistent with my schedule, continue working out during this period, and reach my highest scoring potential for this board exam. It IS possible!

I also have some things going on during this study period as well – I’ll be presenting my research at a national conference, and going to my significant other’s residency MATCH week, so definitely tons to look forward to. So soooo excited and ready to THRIVE during this period!

12 hour days?!

This week has been a BLURRRR. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s exam season, and this week I’ll have my last exam of 2nd year (woot woot!). It has been the LONGEST block – 13 weeks! It’s also been the block with the most material – Immunology, Dermatology, Rheumatology, Microbiology/ Clinical infectious diseases, and Hematology/Oncology. A LOT! We were told it prepares us for Step 1 and according to the data my school has been collecting on our curriculum, there’s a strong correlation with how well you do on this block and how high you score on Step 1 – yea, no pressure. 

So alas, this week was buckle down and tunnel vision on these books. We were still learning new material up till Wednesday (#BecauseMedSchool) but I’ve been reviewing past material like crazy. Some stuff I learned back in November, I lowkey had forgotten (strugglessss). On the plus side, I developed a routine that I think I’m going to continue with during my dedicated Step 1 study time.

Everyday this week, I left my house at 6:30am, found decent parking on campus and was at my study desk by 7am, at the latest 7:15am. And then I would begin studying. Yes, it’s been that real. I made a daily To-do-list the day before, and would start the day tackling the items on the list. I typically work in 50-55 minute increments with a 5-10 minute break to stand up, stretch or walk around. Lunch time has been 30 – 45 minute breaks. Y’all it’s been so real that I’ve made my cubicle my second home. As in my little locker on top is stocked up with a large container of oatmeal for breakfast and cans of soup! Ps. I will gladly accept any food donations haha

Studygrind

Where the magic happens – in the quiet study room

But yea the countdown is real, the days have been long – usually 12+ hours day spent in school, but I’m balancing the stress by working out during the evenings. In the same school – I did mention it’s like my second home right? Haha. There’s a workout room with all the weights and cardio I need so, my routine is pretty much the same: study, eat, workout. Go home. 

Part of the reason my days have been super long is studying for my block exam but also working through UWORLD questions for Step 1/ relevant material for this block. The grind is real, but I’m trusting God that it’ll all pay off. And even though I missed a reaaaaally dope Super Bowl Party tonight (Yaaaaaasss Eagles!!!!), I take comfort in knowing I’ld rather have this exam behind me than live in regret – shoulda, woulda, coulda. Nah bro. 

Pray for your girl y’all! Looking forward to being D-O-N-E!

“Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!”

Time just keeps MOVINGGG! It’s been two months since my last post and so much has happened since then. I had my first block exam – it went well (hallelujah praise Him!). Also learned some things about how I study best and what works well. My school is pass/ fail for first and second year but I set some personal goals of my own because **cough cough** I want scholarships (these loans y’aaaaall), so yea, just plugging, studying hard, and trying to stay above the average. At OSU, you’re automatically granted a merit scholarship if you’re in the top 25% of the class. This is done at the end of each academic year. It’s an internal ranking, so it’s still pass/ fail but when it comes to scholarships, grades do matter. Since med school is not easy and EVERYONE is smart, I mean we’re talking high averages, this is soooo hard but hey that’s why it’s called goals right?

I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things, specifically learn some clinical skills. I learned how to do a venipuncture (blood draw), take vitals (blood pressure, temperature etc), give oxygen therapy, do a vision test, give an injection/ vaccine and some other things. We were also assessed on those skills, so yep I can do a blood draw and give injections. Cool right? As part of our curriculum, we’re assigned a longitudinal practice where we go every 2 weeks and practice our skills – taking a history and physical, and the things mentioned earlier. I was assigned to an OSU family practice, so my preceptor is a family physician. A few of my friends were assigned to other specialties – Hematology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, it truly varies. Most people were assigned to a family practice though. Wednesday is my first day so I am EXCITED, at the same time, nervous, cuz y’all I’m still just a first year Lol.

Another exciting I’ve done is shadow in Labor and Delivery. I scrubbed in, was in the OR, saw twin deliveries, one of which was a breeched birth, it was seriously cool! I can’t say that it confirmed OB/Gyn was for me, but it was definitely an awesome experience. In general, I think I like the OR environment, perhaps there could be a future for me there, who knows. At the same time, their schedules though, I don’t know if I’m bout that life haha.

Besides that, I’ve been trying to find this whole med school, social, family, relationship balance. The struggle to maintain a consistent workout regime has been REAL for me. So much studying to be done, it’s like bruuuhhh, who got time to workout?! But at the same time, it all boils down to time management; it’s definitely a juggling art. My next block exam is in less than 2 weeks so it’s very tempting to just go into lock down mode, buuuuut I’m reminded everything is all about balance. Actually, it’s part of the reason I decided to buckle down and finally write (or maybe I’m just trying to procrastinate…perhaps both Lol).

aint-nobody-got-time-for-that

Also, with all the craziness going on in our politics, I filled out an absentee ballot application. I figured I wouldn’t have time to go to the polls, so it was for convenience. That said, PLEASE VOTE Y’ALL! Major key! Like seriously. Tomorrow is the last day to register in Ohio, which so happens to be a swing state, so if you’re in my state, again please vote 🙂

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start, let’s make it a great one!

What’s Your Learning Style?

This might seem like a simple question, but it makes a world of difference when it comes to learning large amounts of information in what might feel like a very short time. With a new school year beginning, it’s something that’s been on my mind. The big question: What is the most effective way to learn new information? This varies for most people. Thinking back to my college years, there were many nights where I sat bent over my textbook, reading a chapter, only to find out 5 pages in, I had NO IDEA what I just read. Alas, back to page one. Who knows what I’m talking about here? Struggles. For me, reading was NOT my dominant learning style (at least for this particular subject). Neither was writing my notes over and over again –  still I had a difficult time.

I was struggling to utilize a method that was simply not my dominate way of learning.

struggling learning

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It took me a while but it finally clicked; perhaps if I sat in the front two rows, never missed a lecture, and instead of trying to write down everything being said by the professor, just simply paid attention. Just listened.  

*BOOM*

I found the missing link. I discovered I’m a strong aural (auditory) learner and retain information better that way. I needed to hear things and have discussions for the information to stick. This makes sense because close friends know me for being a good listener (which further translated into my interviewing skills for qualitative research). Furthermore, the classes I enjoyed the most were discussion based or taught by professors who sought to really engage the class. So for me, sitting in the back of the class or maybe just the middle, wasn’t ideal. And missing a lecture, simply a NO-NO. For others, maybe not so much.

VARK model

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So what’s the big deal about finding out your preferred or dominate learning style? Well for one, it makes you more effective at studying and learning new material. If you’re putting a lot of hours into a class, perhaps you have stacks of flashcards, lots of outlines but still find yourself struggling with the material – it might just be that you’re not utilizing your dominant/ preferred learning style. Determining what learning style is most effective for you can help you determine what strategies to use for studying and disregard others that may just be time wasters for you.

Thanks brain

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Organic Chemistry for example, is a class where you’d really want to know your preferred learning style very early on and create effective study strategies based on that. Personally, I’m multimodal with aural (listening to lectures/ discussions), visual (pictures, charts), and kinesthetic (trail and error, practical exercises). This means that either of these strategies work for me based on the subject I’m learning OR I need to see the material presented in different modes to really learn it (I’m still trying to figure out which is most true for me!). So to grasp the topics in Organic Chemistry, I knew reading wouldn’t be enough for me – that would be struggle bus all the way. I need to hear the explanations over and over again and see visual representations, so I sought out videos. In my case, I used Coursesaver videos, and YouTube, and truly those helped me a lot!

So how do you determine your dominant learning style? There are several quizzes and questionnaires online that can help you with this. The VARK model appears to be a popular one and splits the learning styles into four categories: Aural (auditory) learners, visual learners, reading and writing learners, and kinesthetic learners. I encourage you to check it out!

The new school year’s begun and it’s time to hit the road running! So what’s your learning style?