27 August 2009

First weeks: Survival

The information load during the beginning of medical school is massive, my science topics right now include gross anatomy, histology, embryology, physiology, biochemistry. These courses require massive amounts of reading and understanding of relationships, connections and general synthesis of information. The biggest problem is how to acquire all the information AND make those connections in the couple hours a day I'm not in class. One method would be to layout a coherent strategy of rotating through the topics for new reading, review and discussion, but my current strategy is more along the lines of reading and learning as much as I can for the next topic on the schedule then freaking out when I'm asked a question on an old topic that I "should know by now" and trying to emphasize that for a spare five minutes. Rather dizzying to be sure.

Then I've got three other, softer side classes, including one appropriately described as "how to be a doctor". I suppose it is good they require this class because some of the questions asked by fellow students seem to imply they believe they are training to be a life coach, a counselor, a law enforcement officer or something other than a physician. Community physicians come in and work with us in small groups on how to physically perform exams, how to get collect information from patients and then answer all our random questions on the social, business and lifestyle issues of being a practicing doctor.

The program I'm in also includes a large amount of "clinical correlation" which means that every time we talk about a scientific idea, we also get a patient presentation or diagnostic test result or something that would relate that idea to actually being someone's doctor. I can't decide whether I like the amount of it we get. I mean, sure it is great to go through some examples, but when every second or third paragraph in the text is interrupted by "this is why people get tennis elbow" or "clavicular fractures usually occur in this area" or "testicular swelling can cause discomfort", it makes for difficult reading. I know the program is responding to the complaints of prior students about making the information real and this is a nationwide trend, but I'm not convinced yet.

1 comment:

Ms. Sylaneous said...

I must admit, I didn't read this whole blog, I just saw something about informaitonal overload! LOL I'm not sure what year you are in, but DO get/borrow/look at Lippencott's Biochem Review book. I'm sure you aren't preparing for any board exams yet, but USMLE First Aid for the Boards is a good book. It helped me so much because I was the kind of student who had to have things 'broken down' quite a bit, THEN build back on it. First Aid is a good book for that. I was able to get a gooood overview of topics, then was able to follow and understand better during lectures and study. AND I found that the Board Review Series books were all pretty good. I used most of these in conjunction with lecture notes and such... good breakdowns and good practice questions (to see how the info is applied)...

again..good luck!

and check me out!