Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Attend or not to Attend, that is the Question.

I decided to hold off on writing anything regarding the omnipresent question of medical school--attending lecture--until I had a better grasp on how I felt about it and some understanding of how I could convey that.

As a first year student I attended lecture religiously, for the first week maybe two.  Then the alarm would ring at 7:45 and very quickly my warm, snuggly bed became far more appealing than at 8:30 lecture about biochemistry that I wasn't going to understand anyway.  Thats when they pile up.  All of a sudden you're 13 lectures behind and you don't know how it happened.  But then you get through it.  Double speed.

The problem I found was that I always intended to go to class and felt bad skipping.  Inevitably I would skip the class anyway but somehow didn't feel as bad.  Its the thought that counts, right? I found that this was the biggest flaw in my logic.  You have to commit.  Either you go to class or you don't.  Otherwise your scheduling gets out of control.  During M1 year I mixed it up, sometimes I went sometimes I didn't and that kind of instability makes scheduling nearly impossible.  You can't develop a system if you go to a few classes then have to come home and watch a few more.

So this year thats what I did.  After the first week I decided I wasn't going to go to class anymore (except of course for mandatory sessions which I do not condone skipping).  Every school has some kind of system for recording lectures and some even have the convenience of them being podcasts/vodcasts you can subscribe to and automatically downloads.  My goal was to watch all of the lectures the day after they occur that way all of the recordings are up and available and all cued up in my iTunes.  So here I am a few weeks later and all I have to do is watch two pathology lectures from yesterday and I'm caught up.

I myself am shocked at how well this works but I found that the largest hurdle was really my own personal feelings about attending class.  We are all "good" students, thats what brought us this far, and for that reason we feel compelled to attend class.  It is so engrained in our minds that going to class is an absolute necessity that we would much rather sit in a classroom playing text twist or on whatshouldwecallmedschool or surfing facebook than be at home or in the library using that time to actually learn the material.  The goal of these years is to become effective learners and masters of this material and unfortunately these lecture settings are not the best way for each of us to learn.

I know back in the day there was no such thing as lecture capture but they had co-ops which were effectively a note taking service so that if students missed a class or wanted to review they had notes from classmates to look back on.  We have to disabuse ourselves of this notion that skipping class means we're bad students.  If skipping class means watching it later (maybe even on 1.2 speed instead of 2 since you know, you aren't 183094 lectures behind) and being able to pause it and rewind and pick up details that were confusing, maybe its really your best bet.  Frustratingly watching a lecture on 2x doesn't mean you actually learned anything all it means is that you let it play and watched it go by.

I now find that I have time to look up things I feel confused about or to spend a little extra time hammering down a concept because I'm not rushing through frantically trying to keep up.  Thats the worst feeling, drowning in a sea of work and all you see is a deadline, the exam. The jury is still out for me because we haven't had our first exam yet but I can say that I feel a lot better about my study habits now than I did last year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


yes, I made it out of the single most academically grueling year of my life, in one piece (more or less)

This song best expresses how I feel:

When signing into one of numerous back to school first week activites/lunch talks (ie free food) I accidently wrote M1.  Embarrassing.  I still have a whole list of topics I generated regarding first year and will continue to finish those up before delving completely into second year and will hopefully be caught up before our clinical experiences begin so those can be reported in totally honest, real time fashion.

Check back soon for more posts including topics like what extra curricular activities to engage in and the age old question: to go to class, or not?  Thanks for sticking around!