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    • Thread Starter

    I currently consider studying medicine either in Germany or in the UK. Studying medicine in Germany is dominated by memorizing for exams. One joke describes the myth about studying medicine in Germany pretty well:

    "If you tell a medical student and a law student to memorize the yellow pages, the law student asks 'why?' and the medical student asks 'until when?' ..."

    Especially the exam after the second year but also the final exam are mainly about knowing things by heart. Some even find studying medicine dull and intellectually not very stimulating. The study experience where you analyze, model, reflect and build as in the typical schience subjects are non-existent in Germany, especially with the traditional way of teaching. At the same time, the admission process is highly selective, just like in the UK.

    I'd like to know from current medical students how medicine is learnt and thaught in the UK. I have heard that medicine in the UK is in general less theory based compared to Germany. I know there are different ways of teaching (PBL ,...) but is studying medicine based on memorizing in the UK too? Looking at several forums, students are complaining about work load, about (useless) science subjects, but not about memorizing.

    Studying medicine = memorizing. YES or NO??

    Not really.

    Memorising might get you through the first two years before you see patients.

    However, after that you have to see the patient and understand how X, Y and Z translates into real life.

    Very few patients turn up with classical presentations. It is about putting things into practice.

    Oh...and no science subject is useless. Everything is linked even though it may seem abstract. You are effectively taught a lot because there are many routes in medicine to take.
    • PS Reviewer

    PS Reviewer
    Memorising is heavily rewarded throughout the actual training process, I think. Although when you get to clinics it's also about judgement and communication to an extent - you could cover up a certain amount of it with the right kind of memorisation! You do need a whole host of factual knowledge just to back up everything else, no matter what. The better your factual knowledge, the more confident you can feel.

    However, once you get beyond training and into practice, it's just as much about the "art" of medicine. You have to use your judgement and communication skills to really reach conclusions - but based on that knowledge. I personally find medicine is a LOT of memorising, but it's also applied memorisation so in that sense it's not 100% a memory test. Just 70% a memory test!

    I see it as more problem solving and pattern recognition than memorising, and risk management. You have to learn the facts in the early years to know what your differential diagnosis for a patient presenting with x problem (say abdo pain) is, but you also have to know how common the relative causes of abdo pain are, the clinical pictures of the different causes of abdo pain eg severe or mild pain, location of pain, time frame, other associated symptoms etc. There is no alternative to learning all this stuff in the first place. Once you have the knowledge there you can then apply it to the actual patient in front of you. As a GP you also use the common things occur commonly approach and use your knowledge of the patients personality and approach to illness built over time to help you.
    The memorising is essential in the early years, some of it is less essential eg all the biochemistry pathways I learnt and have now forgotten because i never use them. Anatomy is very useful.
    • PS Helper

    PS Helper
    I hope not, I've come too far!

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    • Community Assistant

    Community Assistant
    If it were all memorisation, then it would be done by computers.

    Its more about understanding the context information comes in, understanding what information is important and what isn't, dealing with uncertainty and, frankly, common sense.

    Having said that, I think medicine in the UK is a lot more about listening to and examining the patient, as opposed to doing and interpreting lots of scans and bloods. At least, that is what an Austrian colleague of mine said.
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