Anonymous #1
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Hello everyone,

I'm a first year medical student at a Scottish University (if you're also attending a Scottish med school, please state below ) and having finished semester one, I feel really lost with my study technique...

1) Understanding vs. Memorisation
I feel that some topics are rote memorisation rather than learning, but struggling to identify the topics where I just need to commit it to memory rather than understanding the material...now that I think about it, I don't think I ever 100% understood anything in high school especially when it came to the sciences and I believe I just memorised the information - med school is making me self-doubt constantly

2) Notes vs. Flashcards
All the advice that I've received from senior medics is that they understand their information from the lecture slides (I honestly cannot comprehend this fully as some of our lecture slides are bare and poor quality), and a few of them make flash cards from the slides. I'm worried that if I do this, I'm limiting the information as I try to fit it into one flashcard question and not seeing the bigger picture - but I guess they're taking advantage of the spacing effect?

Currently, the majority of my peers are making notes from the lecture slides- I have personally found this to be too time-consuming.

I understand that first year is all about finding the study method that works for you but I really want to know everyone's experience of coping with the vast amount of content.

Honestly speaking, this is inducing some heavy anxiety and stress (and dark circles) that I have never experienced before and I'm wanting some sincere and genuine advice, thanks in advance.
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Hype en Ecosse
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First piece of advice is that it's only the first semester - don't stress! You've got a full 5-6 years ahead of you, which will change an awful lot year-by-year. This also gives you plenty of time to figure things out,

I'm a graduate from a Scottish uni currently working in Scotland. The way I studied in the early years (1 and 2) is that I would sit down in the library with the lecture slides and a textbook that covers the same subject. Then I'd go through them both together and re-write them into my notes. So then as I understood the larger concepts and shifted to later years (which ends up focusing more on semantic memory and rote memorisation), I shifted to just using flashcards I created out of books.
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Brachioradialis
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I'd mirror the above advice about giving it a little bit of time to see what suits you best. Have you got access to previous years' flashcards for Anki, for example? Some people find the process of making them helpful, but frankly I found it a waste of time and preferred to learn prewritten cards. I used Anki for most things that needed memorisation (clotting cascades etc etc) and then wrote out lecture notes for more wordy subjects (like ethics) or ones needing a greater depth of understanding

It'll vary depending on the type of learner you are, but you'll figure it out
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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Hi,

I hope my input gives you some hope, confidence and resulting motivation and success.

Yes, there is a lot to learn in the initial years, some of which needs sheer memory work; however, a number of facts in e.g. physiology, pharmacology, can be worked out by thinking a little e.g. [PHYSIOLOGY]:that cardiac output = stroke volume X heart rate [obviously] or the reason for sinus arrhythmia [considering the negative pressure in the thorax during each stage of ventilation, and its effect on venous return via expansion/otherwise of the great veins, followed by the effect on cardiac output and blood pressure and the result on the baroreceptor reflex]; [PHARMACOLOGY]: the fact that stimulation of beta-1 receptors in the heart leads to a positive inotropic and chronotropic effect SO a beta-1 selective beta-adrenoceptor blocking agent will reduce blood pressure -----> useful in hypertension AND reduce cardiac O2 consumption ----> useful in angina pectoris; [BIOCHEMISTRY]: [simple]: amino acids are amphoteric [have a basic amino group + acid carboxyl group] so are good buffers; [ADVANCED]: knowing that the 1-hydroxylation of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol to give 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol occurs in the kidney enables prediction of vitamin D deficiency in chronic renal failure; etc etc etc.

(I am partly assuming that your med sch teaches basic sciences first and does not use system-by-system approach).

I disagree with the statement "....later years (which ends up focusing more on semantic memory and rote memorisation......" in a previous post: the clinical years or ALL years [depending on course structure at your uni] are easier and INVOLVE LESS memorization by rote:
a) you are seeing live patients speaking to you about their symptoms, and you actually elicit signs yourself SO YOU REMEMBER THROUGH VARIOUS SENSES.
b) from your knowledge of normal anatomy, physiology, histology, etc. you can work out practically all clinical features, etc in disease (as long as you elect to and plan to work smart rather than hard) e.g. [SIMPLE}: knowing the functions of the liver (around 10 of them), you can work out that hepatic failure (in later stages) causes jaundice (failure of breakdown of bilirubin and biliverdin), oedema (reduced protein synthesis esp albumin), bleeding diathesis (deficiency of clotting factors synthesized in liver (II, V, VII and X), etc; [ADVANCED]: in ASD [atrial septal defect], one of the signs found on auscultation can be [although not commonly] a widely split 2nd heart sound fixed in inspiration and expiration because the left to right shunt of blood through the defect means that the normal split of 2nd sound in inspiration is wider [as more blood flows on right side of heart following greater venous return due to expansion of large veins [inferior vena cava and azygos]] delaying the pulmonary component [P2]], AND the defect makes the two atria act like one so this wide splitting is not reduced during expiration [the increased venous return due to the expansion of large veins in inspiration NOW AFFECTS BOTH atria].
c) you can predict [work out] a large proportion of medical terminology from their Greek/Latin roots once you know some of them (chek out my numerous posts on biology on TSR).

USE THESE TIPS + THINK POSITIVE + BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and HAVE A PLAN! You will excel. BEST OF LUCK!

M
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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Hi,

Here are a couple of my (100s) of flash cards [see next post from phone] that I created as a medical student:
My strategy was:
a) to read up material in books (selected carefully depending on your learning style, cross-referencing preferences, memory tactics, amount of detail you like, comprehensiveness of index, quality of paper [sounds stupid but I can't read torn, creased or badly bound books - they need be in pristine condition and kept so!!], etc)
b) create these flash cards ideally without making your notes direct from the books, but using memory as far as possible.
c) the notes on the flash cards need to be brief (bullet point type) so that
i) they are easy and quick to create
ii) it is easier to read them at exam time for quick refreshment of facts in the mind.
d) the points made on the flash cards should remind you of more detail that you need or would like to learn (if you are anything like I ). e.g. (hopefully!) the points under folate (Vitamin B9) will remind you:
i) that the amino acid serine has a hydroxyl group replacing one carbon of the methyl group added to the structure of glycine (the simplest amino acid) to give alanine (DO NOT TRY TO MEMORIZE THIS SENTENCE - instead look at the structures of the 3 a.a.-s and get a mind's eye view, which will stick in your memory).
ii) that because of the functions of folate listed, deficiency of folate causes megaloblastic anaemia (as does deficiency of Vitamin B12 [cyanocobalamin).
e) use memory aids (such as the ones described by Tony Buzan in his famous book "Use Your Memory" - less than £10 on Amazon (Get it please!)) e.g. the fact [as highlighted on my flash card] that most functions of vitamin C have the letter "C" in them [circled in red].


KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK - more tips soon!

M
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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bubz.
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... If you haven't been scared off by the above posts then I echo Ecosse and brachio. Take this time to explore different methods and embrace the anxiety. You have plenty of time to figure out what works for you. Try not to worry too much about what of how other people learn and instead just play with different methods ie write your own flashcards, answer pre-written cards, draw pictures and diagrams, teach your colleagues on topics you are becoming more comfortable with etc.

Past papers are useful if you can get your hands on them in order to gauge what you need to learn and what you need to memorise.

I'm from a Scottish uni about sit finals.

You'll be fine. Enjoy your first year, meet some people, do some things. You've got a long way to go ha.
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Anonymous #2
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Ok well sheldon has scared me off - and my finals are next week lol

enjoy 1st year, a lot of what you are learning now won't correlate with what you will learn in clinical years. Pick up the basics, try to understand physiology and learn anatomy and enjoy your first couple of years!
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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Sorry guys, the intention was to lay out some tips to make things easier - I thought I was at least heading in that direction - must try and keep it simple henceforth - that is after all the maxim that always applies to biology and medicine - obvious and common things first! DON'T BE PUT OFF - medical finals are designed to be passed - your Dean will only sign you off to sit them if he/she is almost certain you are capable of passing - you only fail UG finals if you are a potential danger to patients. (The onus is not the same as in PG exams like MRCP).
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by macpatgh-Sheldon)
Sorry guys, the intention was to lay out some tips to make things easier - I thought I was at least heading in that direction - must try and keep it simple henceforth - that is after all the maxim that always applies to biology and medicine - obvious and common things first! DON'T BE PUT OFF - medical finals are designed to be passed - your Dean will only sign you off to sit them if he/she is almost certain you are capable of passing - you only fail UG finals if you are a potential danger to patients. (The onus is not the same as in PG exams like MRCP).
Are you an anesthetist by any chance lol

what i I meant was you were very detailed in your note taking compared to mine, where I have pathology, typical presentation, key signs & lab work, investigatons then treatment. I would never write the physiology down on my notes with the pathology unless it was a renal related note lol.
Like algorithms for ALS - keep it simple and how I go through process of recognizing what I’m seeing first!

But my notes for final year, heck even clinical ones are vastly different to pre clinical 1st & second where it was more about rote learning, and I think even then had I tried to understand physiology I would have failed, I think you need a pathology to relate physiology to especially in renal/endocrine to make it understandable!
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junior.doctor
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(Original post by macpatgh-Sheldon)
you only fail UG finals if you are a potential danger to patients.
I felt I needed to add something to this, for anyone reading this who's doing finals. Please, please do not feel that if you fail finals, you must therefore be a potential danger to patients. Yes, UG exams focus on passing, whereas PG exam focus is different. Thankfully, most people DO pass finals. Some people don't. Anyone can have a bad day on the day of an exam - mess up an essential written question, get stressed over an OSCE patient. If this is you - please do not worry, this is not the end, and does not automatically mean that you are dangerous. I know plenty of good doctors who had to resit finals.

(DOI - I actually passed finals first time round but failed something every year before that...)
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macpatgh-Sheldon
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Are you an anesthetist by any chance lol

what i I meant was you were very detailed in your note taking compared to mine, where I have pathology, typical presentation, key signs & lab work, investigatons then treatment. I would never write the physiology down on my notes with the pathology unless it was a renal related note lol.
Like algorithms for ALS - keep it simple and how I go through process of recognizing what I’m seeing first!

But my notes for final year, heck even clinical ones are vastly different to pre clinical 1st & second where it was more about rote learning, and I think even then had I tried to understand physiology I would have failed, I think you need a pathology to relate physiology to especially in renal/endocrine to make it understandable!
Good morning young man/lady,

Actually I am not - hated anaesthetics as a student [why do you ask?], also was not too keen on surgery in general - both because they involved standing for hours without food .

Was planning to specialize in cardiology (won prize as student if I may brag a bit), but after my Skyfall (Daniel Craig only had one in acting - mine was in real life!), I branched out into pharma industry.

BEST OF LUCK NEXT WEEK!
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bubz.
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(Original post by macpatgh-Sheldon)Good morning young man/lady,

Was planning to specialize in cardiology (won prize as student if I may brag a bit), but after my Skyfall (Daniel Craig only had one in acting - mine was in real life!), I branched out into pharma industry.

BEST OF LUCK NEXT WEEK!

- Thank F
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