I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I just wanted to give you guys a quick update since the past two weeks were crazy and we just wrapped up Hematology/Oncology! We learned about blood, related disorders, and cancers. I didn’t get much sleep the few days before the exam, but I passed so I guess it was worth it. I changed a few things about how I studied for this exam compared to the last one and I think it helped, but there are still things I need to work on. We are over three months in and I’m still learning how to study. Let’s hope I figure it out soon!
Here’s what worked:
- Staying away from my room. During non-exam weeks I’m usually okay about studying in my room, but when I really need to focus I need to be as far away from my bed as possible. I wish I could be one of those people that hides in their room until the exam, but I just love my bed way too much!
- I took reasonable breaks. I would study for 2-3 hours, then take a 10-30 minute break. It gave my brain a break and made it easier to study for a longer duration of time. Breaks included: Youtube, dance breaks with my friend, and cracking up to the point of tears when we felt delirious. It was great though because we encouraged each other when it seemed like there was no way we could memorize all the drugs, leukemias, and lymphomas.
- I didn’t eat an excessive amount of junk food and squeezed in some exercise! Before the previous exam I found myself getting food out of the vending machine way too many times and it was not helpful. For this exam, I packed my meals and snacks and felt so much better while studying. I think I’ll do a post about what I eat to stay healthy so you guys can see what I’m like when i’m having a good week! Let me know if you’re interested. 😉
What I can improve on:
- Staying on top of the material to the best of my ability. I feel like this will always be a constant battle because it’s really easy to fall behind in med school. Sometimes concepts take longer than you thought to really understand or life gets in the way and you can’t control the amount of time you have. I think if I would have looked at all of my notes one more time I would have done a little better, but its all about progress!
- Being more active in my learning from the beginning. I definitely waited too long to start actively memorizing the material. I like writing things out on a whiteboard, but I waited until the weekend before the exam to do it. I’m going to try to do it earlier in the unit. Here’s an example:
If you’re a student reading this, I hope that seeing what works for me and what I need to improve on encourages you to evaluate your study techniques, so that you can be more efficient and really learn whatever material you’re learning! You don’t have to do exactly what I do; it’s about figuring out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to get rid of a technique that isn’t working and try new things. I used to write everything out in my notebook or separate pieces of paper, but I found that it was too time-consuming and really wasn’t helpful. I wanted to hold on to that technique because it was what I was used to from undergrad. Don’t be like me- realize when something needs to change so you can do better! I’ll do a post on different note-taking techniques in the future.
With all of the stress of that exam, it was such a relief to have a few days off from studying. I pretty much used the weekend to catch up on sleep, enjoy time with family, catch up with friends, and of course eat good food.
I have a lot to be thankful for. I am healthy, I have an amazing support system, I’ve made awesome friends in med school, and I’m blessed to be going through this struggle called med school. If you’re struggling like me right now, be thankful! It’s part of your journey. Push through it and be grateful every step of the way.
Our next unit is microbiology, so it’s time to get back to work. Thanks for reading!