Soon second-year of medical school begins. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m excited to get back into the groove of studying and learning about the content that comes up frequently in my clinical experiences that I have no idea about, but on the other hand I’m terrified of what have been notoriously labeled the most difficult blocks: Infection and Disease and Mind and Motion, focusing on immunology and ALL the nerves that we have not yet learned about. However, I am determined to go into the new year equipped with the skills and techniques I found most effective last year and reminding myself of my mistakes and inefficiencies as an M1 so that I do not repeat those.
Upon reviewing some material this summer, probably one of the biggest things I wish I had known the first year is that lecture material simply is not enough to perform well. It seems as if my classmates all jumped into school with knowledge of outside resources and utilized them optimally. I made the mistake of solely relying on lecture powerpoints and notes and did not realize how helpful and high yield other resources (i.e. First Aid, Pathoma, Osmosis) were and how they would supplement my learning tremendously. Going back through First Aid and Osmosis now, I definitely think I would have done so much better the first semester had I incorporated them into my studying. Secondly, I am now very aware of my inclination toward visual learning; initially, I was relying on heavy-text, dry book chapters, and found my learning to be much more active and engaging once I began searching for diagrams of different pathophysiological pathways, diagnostic algorithms, and treatment flowcharts. I will certainly be focusing my studying on images and actively learning by drawing these out myself and verbally recalling information to myself. The biggest blunder I made during the first semester was passively learning, where I would read a chapter and then type out notes from it, only to forget it sometimes two hours later. I observed my classmates using whiteboards, taking handwritten notes, and quizzing each other and realized that active learning makes such a difference in how well you remember information and apply it clinically.
Although I have beaten myself up numerous times for my inefficient study methods at the beginning of the first year, I acknowledge that there is no way I could have known right off the bat what works best for me. Now that I am aware of where my weaknesses lie and how to strengthen them through specific modes of learning, I feel significantly more ready for what is waiting for me. M2, here I come!