How To Be Successful In Medical School

How To Be Successful In Medical School

Hi everyone , I’m Lucy. I’m 21 3rd year medic at the University of Nottingham! In this article I’m going to be talking about how you can have success at medical school,Therefore that’s in learning the massive amount of information that you’re going to need to learn whether it’s revising for exams or perfecting your exam technique for Oscars and atomy exams and logs which wastes exams. So I’m going to just give my tips that I’ve accumulated so far in my third year.

So I’ve done the preclinical part of my course and I haven’t done my placement years yet. so I can’t really comment on that but yeah like I said I’m just gonna be telling you things that I’ve learned so far that have helped me to improve my grades over the years also I should say as a sort disclaimer I’m by no means the smartest medic in the world or anything and obviously 

I’m still perfecting my techniques this day these things that just things that have helped me they might not help you but I just thought I’d share them.

Here are my 10 Tips How to be Successful in Medical School that tips I wish I’d known in first year!

  • Make sure that you understand content

Make sure that you understand content as you’re doing it so I really do believe that understanding the content is what underpins your long-term memory of a topic as you’re going through it, and you’re sitting in the lectures and making your notes.

If you have questions or you have things that you don’t understand it’s important to address them sort of immediately. so maybe that evening when you get home you would like to look up something you weren’t sure of or you can make use of the lecturers and ask questions at the end of the lecture.

If you have any sort of workshops or seminars you could take the opportunity to ask questions then talk to your peers about things you’re not understanding, because if you address your issues at the time, they weren’t all built up and you’ll find it a lot easier to understand the content in the future.

because often the same kind of concepts will crop up there or something that they do not understand then. It might just keep coming up and every time if you just brush over it and think oh I’ll revise that I’ll understand it eventually.

You’re not maybe gonna be making the most out of all of the lectures you’re having. I always think when it comes to revising you have so much content that you need to go over that you don’t want to be still using up your time.

I really like trying to figure out what something means and you really want to have the strategies in place for you to just quickly understand it and go over it and move on.

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  • Make friends with medics

Because if you ever get stuck with anything and are really confused then it’s exam time and that time you can’t really contact a lecturer because it’s getting too late and it’s the night before the exam then.

I mean there’s pros and cons obviously, it means you do spend a lot of time with these same people but I really do think there are benefits in even if they’re not your best friends just chatting to other other medics and helping people that you can contact firstly.  I’m very lucky there I’ve always lived with medics in my house and my two best friends at uni are actually medics.

because if you ever get stuck with anything and really confused then it’s exam time and you maybe you can’t really contact a lecturer because it’s getting too late and it’s the night before the exam then.

it’s good to have someone that you could just quickly talk to and be like look can you just quickly explain this thing to me, it’s also good in that when you’re revising you can test each other on different things.

It’s very different testing someone else on a topic that you also know a lot about because obviously you can get like non medical and family to test you but they won’t really know what’s difficult and what’s not so you might just find that it’s really easy to answer any questions they ask you.

if you get a medic to do it they are gonna know the things that are challenging, and they can ask you questions on that and make sure you really understand it.Thirdly is that just in general and this goes for any course other people can really help you in the way that they learn things and the way they remember things.

So when we were learning the ECG leads back in first year I think it was my friend who made up a dance and helped us remember what electrodes were involved with which limb leads. She made up this song to remember the nerve root of the muscles of the forearm.

Something like that was just really cool for us to all then learn and then we could all do it together and it would help everyone to remember it lovely and this is something that definitely improves me a lot is doing a lot of Osce practice on each other.

so it’s all very well when you learn a new examination to practice it on a family member or non medic, I would practice all of the things we learn new clinical skills on my boyfriend the day. 

after I’d learnt it I’m gonna do a respiratory exam on you and this does have its benefits, because obviously good to practice on someone who doesn’t know what’s coming and it so it really tests whether you’re explaining well what you want the patient to do because they just have no idea what’s coming next.

I think the benefits of practicing it with other medics is that they can ask you again like I’ve said before they can ask you questions, so they can be like right what you are looking for. What could that be a sign of and what you’re doing now and they can really get you to explain everything. 

They’re doing and checking that you’re actually doing everything properly and you’re doing it for the right reasons and you know what you’re looking for. I might also be great. I don’t really like being attributed entirely to this.

Because it could just be that I like to revise better or I just sort of improved my communication skills but in the second year as opposed to the first year.

I practiced with my friend a lot more for us,  we just did them over and over again on each other like the different examinations because it’s all about muscle memory and if you just know what’s coming next you’re not having to stand there and be right.

so I’ve listened to the test now what do I need to do you just know what to do without having to rethink about it so I think that was really valuable in boosting my markup a lot in the oski and also finally it’s obviously nice to have people who are in a similar situation to you so they can relate to you when it all gets a bit tough and you’re struggling up there it’s nice to have people that really understand what you’re going through.

  • Make the Most clinical Opportunity

Okay my next tip is to really make the most of any clinical experience you get especially in the preclinical years, when you’re not going to be on a placement like you’re only going to be sort of getting bits and pieces of clinical it’s barren there really make the most of it and I think there’s just something that I’ve grown into.

How To Be Successful In Medical School

Obviously you are going to be nervous the first time that you’ll speak to the page and you’re examining patients, the first time you ever do something and it’s going to be scary, but the thing is patients know that you’re not necessarily the most confident.

They know that you’re not meant to be a doctor, if you’re explaining it properly to them that you are a first-year medical student or it’s like an American student they’re not going to expect you to be a doctor and neither will that life of the doctors and the teaching fellows they’re around you. 

They know that you’re gonna make mistakes so don’t be scared of making mistakes and something I’ve found that’s good is if there’s an opportunity to do something or an opportunity to go first they’re having a go at something.

I just now try to just say yes and take it because often if you sort of sit back and let other people do things and take the opportunities when they come then the worst case scenario is you won’t actually get a go because maybe you’re run out of time.

Then you will have just spent that time in the hospital like watching other people do things but not doing them yourself and also if you’re in a group of other medics and you’re watching each other.

I quite like going first to do things because people will expect you to make mistakes because you’re the first one to do it once everyone’s had a go there then gonna stop thinking right we should all know what we’re doing now. 

I always like to take the opportunities if I can and I like to go first doing things so that I don’t miss out on having a go and so that it won’t matter so much if I forget a few things we’ll make a few mistakes.

  • Learn All The Details

Next tip is to literally learn everything and this sounds silly but you really do need to know all the little details and this might just be for Nottingham multiple choice question exams.

I remember my first year after I’d done all my lecture notes and I was revising I would condense down my notes so I just cut out bits of information I didn’t really think we’re relevant so I made my notes a lot shorter and a lot more condensed.

But what I also did was I cut out some of the little details that were actually important and in the multiple choice exams these little details are really important to be able to rule out certain answers.

Learn All The Details

so there’s a few like little facts that like if you know you can just rule out like loads of the answers and then you’ll just have the right answer in front of you whereas if you have a kind of more superficial less detailed knowledge about things when it comes to multiple-choice you’re going to recognize all the answers that come up.

You’re going to sort of be able to convince yourself that all of them are right. I really do think you need that from that detail to be able to distinguish a right answer from a wrong answer sometimes and I think that does make a big difference between getting maybe like a 2:1 and getting a fast.

  • Find A Note Taking Technique

Think carefully about how you want to take your notes. so note-taking for me was like a bit of a struggle. I always thought I knew that I was doing it wrong but I carried on doing it wrong.

so I learned from my mistakes so basically in first year what I would do is as the lecturer was speaking in my lectures I would try and write on everything, that was on the PowerPoint slide and my second priority would be actually listening to what the lecturer was saying.

Find A Note Taking Technique

 What I think would be better in hindsight is to properly listen to the lecturer and just sit and like to take in the lecture and don’t worry about taking away though the note just listen and just think about what’s going on maybe jot the occasional thing down.

if the lecturer says something like that adds to the PowerPoint slide and then in the evening to go back and write up the lecture in full and add everything that the lecturer has said. so then you’ve got a full set of comprehensive notes and you’ve actually sat and listened to the lecture and taken it in when it gets closer to exams. 

I think that making flash cards and posters is really good to be able to actually learn to recall information because if you’re just like making notes quite mindlessly and just looking over your notes then you’re going to be having like a good recognition memory as you’re going through.

you’ll be thinking that you’ve learnt it all because you’ll be recognizing everything you’d be going oh yeah I remember learning that yeah I remember that I remember that if you actually practice trying to recall it out of nowhere then it really shows you the holes in your knowledge.

 that’s really important for multiple choice exams as well because if your memory is sort of more recognition based then when it comes to looking at the choices in a multiple-choice exam.

they will all like you’ll recognise all of them and it’d be really hard to distinguish ones which are very slightly wrong to those that are right whereas if you are able to actually just recall information you will know you’ll be able to eliminate the other options.

because you’ll know what’s right like you will just know it I think that’s really helped me like the times I’ve made proper flashcards and I’ve been like practicing recalling information they often tend to be the exams I do a lot better is on the same topic about where’s questions.

  • Trust Your Instincts in Multiple Choice Exams

Just trust your instincts has been so many times where I put an answer I’ve been really confident with it and then I’ve gone back through later to check all my answers and I’ve changed them because I’ve convinced myself that I must have been wrong the first time around,

I’ve changed it to something else and then I come out the exam and check in my notes what the real answer was and it’s always the first one I put so this isn’t something to always go by,

because often you will actually remember details and you’ll be able to change an answer to the right one because you’ll know that it’s right but you have to be really confident to change an answer.

Trust Your Instincts in Multiple Choice Exams

I really do believe that like there’s an element that’s all subconscious memory that you get when you have an instinct that is going to be right.

so be careful when you change your answers make sure that you’re really sure the thing you’re changing it to is right because it’s such an annoying thing when you come out and you realize that you change like five answers to be wrong when they were originally right.

  • Accept That You Will Never Know Everything

My next tip is to do with learning anatomy now I think the biggest thing I can say about this is just accept that you are never gonna know it all and it’s so hard because I think most people at medical school are similar to me in that you don’t like going into an exam having not learned every single thing into so much detail.

 because that’s that’s the way I’ve always been with GCSEs if a levels I always go in and I feel so confident because I know that I have revised everything and I’ve learned the whole syllabus.

But I just don’t think it works of anatomy like there’s so many tiny little details you could learn I’m not saying cut out a lot of it majority of it because they do learn really well.

I remember what was it that I was really struggling with oh yeah so the night before my and asked me exam in second year I suddenly realized like I hadn’t learned all the lymphatics of every part of the GI tract I hadn’t learned where the lymph drains – like what lymph nodes it drains – and I remember suddenly panicking and being like right.

I’ve got to learn it or I’ve got to make all these flashcards and I’ve got sit here and practice reciting it over and over again the night before the exam and 

I went to my friend’s room in my house and she had learnt like a bit Sabet but she just like said to me like look you’re not going to learn it and there’s just no flame and I think that really stuck with me. 

actually  in the exam there was one mark for knowing the lymphatic system of one part of the body, and I don’t think I knew it but whatever it was one mark like I could lose that one mark or I could spend hours and hours learning the lymphatics of every single thing in the body at the expense of learning like the main part of the course and anatomy is important.

it does help you with the rest of the course but the tiny tiny details if there’s not a lot of like clinical relevance to them then I just don’t think it’s worth it.

if you’re going to become a surgeon or you’re going to go into something where you’re required to know that much detail then you will learn it and like you will eventually specialize and,

you’ll learn it but at this stage like a second-year medical school or first year I don’t think knowing every single thing in the Anatomy textbook is necessary.

Practice As Much As You Can : Practice as much as you possibly can obviously the best people to practice on the actual patients, but if you don’t have much opportunity to do that then practice on your family on your friends are the medics everyone just practice it again and again.

because that muscle memory like I said it’s really important when you’re doing things try to actually rather than just going through the motions try to actually think about what you’re doing 

there’s been so many times where at the Oscars I said so like one part, what you have to do in most donations is to inspect the area that you’re examining so for example I’d be inspecting the abdomen but really I wasn’t actually thinking about it.

 I’d be looking but I wouldn’t be seeing and I think this is a really common thing people do that they’re going through the motions of what is required from the checklist, but they’re not actually doing it and I do it all the time.

  • Practice For OSCES

I have to like pick myself up on it so actually think what am I looking for like can I actually see any scars can I see anything abnormal actually think about what you’re doing and it will help you like remember why you’re doing it so if they say what are you looking for why what can it be a sign off you can then just like shoot back and answer .

Practice as much as you possibly can obviously the best people to practice on the actual patients, but if you don’t have much opportunity to do that then practice on your family on your friends are the medics everyone just practice it again and again.

because that muscle memory like I said it’s really important when you’re doing things try to actually rather than just going through the motions try to actually think about what you’re doing 

There’s been so many times where at the Oscars I said so like one part, what you have to do in most donations is to inspect the area that you’re examining so for example I’d be inspecting the abdomen but really I wasn’t actually thinking about it.

 I’d be looking but I wouldn’t be seeing and I think this is a really common thing people do that they’re going through the motions of what is required from the checklist, but they’re not actually doing it and I do it all the time.

 I have to like pick myself up on it so actually think what am I looking for like can I actually see any scars can I see anything abnormal actually think about what you’re doing and it will help you like remember why you’re doing it so if they say what are you looking for why what can it be a sign off you can then just like shoot back and answer.

  • Practice Exampalaning Information Simply

When it comes to learning lots of information something that could be good to do is to practice explaining it to non medics. so like family members wherever so just like practice telling them about a concept like leh Perth and speak.

because I think it can become very easy to get so wrapped up in like the science behind things and and to like know all the jargon but either patient was to ask you okay what is actually wrong with me, or like what’s causing this symptoms would you be able to actually then explain it in a way they could understand.

it’s gonna be a useful thing in the future then when you’re explaining things to patients to have that practice of how you actually go about explaining things that are might be quite complicated but in a way they can understand and finally.

  • Find Ways To Remember Things So you Can recall Quickly 

The last and final tip is to try to find ways that work for you to remember things. because it’s going to be hard to just have a photographic memory and remember a whole textbook or it’s going to be hard to just recall all of your knowledge without coming up with some little tricks.

so obviously some that everyone would use like there’s certain mnemonics and medicine so like you just remember a word and then each letter of the word means something so like if you’re taking a history from a patient.

Most medical students we use the mnemonic Socrates so this is to guide you when you’re asking questions about a symptom. so I won’t go through what it all sounds for but so for example the S stands for sight o stands for answer these characters.

that’s just to give you an idea so that’s one thing that is helpful like mnemonics and then other than that you just got off my cart with things that work for you like, I already mentioned the song for the nerve roots and the forearm the ECG dance that my friend came up with.

There are also lots of little rhymes like the nerve roots of the diaphragm so see three four five keeps the diaphragm alive things like that which we’ll get towards your medical school.

but if you can make up your own I just think it makes remembering things a lot easier because then if it comes up in an exam. what is the innovation of the diaphragm and the nerve roots you can just think oh phrenic nerve and diaphragm,

That see three four five feet the diaphragm alive got the answer you not having to just remember things out of like nowhere so that brings me to end of this video I hope it was helpful, Thank You!

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