For the past couple of weeks I’ve been studying for Step 2 CK. The studying feels less arduous than it did last year when I was studying for Step 1. I imagine that this is because the Step 2 material is highly clinically relevant and is therefore more interesting.
While I’ve been studying, I’ve found myself unconsciously doing something other students told me would eventually happen. As I am reading about diseases and doing practice questions, without realizing it, I am flashing back to encounters I had with real patients with those conditions. Sometimes I remember just the patient, other times I remember other details, like what hallway or room they were in. This is cool, because these very detailed memories of seeing the patients are helping me remember details of their treatments, which in turn is really improving my recall for test questions.
Although I felt like I couldn’t possibly be learning anything at various points during third year, clearly I was retaining quite a bit. It is amazing to see how much more I’ve learned and retained by participating in patient care than by looking at textbooks and slides. In my primary school days I often eschewed hands on learning in favor of other, more old-school methods like rote memorization. That worked fairly efficiently for high school and even most of college, but the volume and detail of the medical school material demands new methods. These days I would say that hands on learning is a pretty effective method!
The road to and through medical school has certainly been an evolution – of my personality, behaviors, and learning style. Some of this can simply be attributed to growing up, but some of it can be attributed to medical school and its deliberate honing of skills I will need as a physician. The ability to learn on the job is essential for a physician. It is exciting to think that I am already building a catalog of experiences – sights, sounds, ideas, and plans – that will shape the way I practice medicine in the future, and the future is starting right now.