Anat-Oh-My Goodness!

434px-Albinus_skeleton_w_less_musclesHello my fellow studiers! It’s my second “official” week of medical school and like many first-years, I have been dropped into one of the most famous of med school classes- anatomy. Now, to be honest, I was a little intimidated when I started last week. There is a ton of information to learn. The test is a few weeks away and it’s all based on memorization and critical reasoning. Sound like any test that you all are planning on taking?

That’s when it hit me! I can use my years of experience taking, teaching and tutoring for the MCAT to help me successfully get through anatomy! Here are a few parallels (I’m sure there are more!) that apply to studying anatomy and studying for the MCAT.

1. Everyone wants to give you advice. In the past few weeks, I have received advice from every upper-level student, every professor, and every classmate about how they studied or are studying anatomy. I’m sure you know that it’s the same with the MCAT. Your parents, teachers and friends all want to tell you about how to study for the test. That said, in both cases, I take every piece of advice with some caution. What works for some people, doesn’t always work for me. I try out new strategies and if they work, great! If they don’t, I move on and study in a way I know will be successful. I always make sure to thank advice-givers heartily though. They are trying to be helpful.

2. Don’t get caught up in the details. It’s super easy to get stuck simply memorizing all of the bony landmarks. I fell into a memorization hole last week and dug myself out of it by asking a simple question- Why? Why is the greater trochanter larger than the lesser? If I know why things are happening, it’s much easier to understand what is actually going on. I know that I’ve emphasized the exact same point on previous MCAT blogs (insert link here!), so I won’t go into too much detail about it right now.

3. Study efficiently and effectively. When you’re in med school, you’ll quickly find that some people will love nothing better than to tell you how many hours they have been studying. Then you will instantly feel bad about how you took half an hour to watch your favorite show on Netflix or, you know, eat and sleep like a normal human being. Similar to studying for the MCAT, it’s not about volume, but how effectively you can learn the material. That means incentives, taking breaks, self-quizzing, and creating a reasonable study schedule. No one ever scored a 45 or honored in anatomy by having the highest number of hours studied.

4. The desire to procrastinate. In the last week, I have read more articles on buzzfeed and creeped more facebook profiles than I have since the last time I studied for the MCAT. I had a conversation with some classmates the other day about how they’re rediscovering all of their old procrastination favorites (hello cat videos and Pinterest). The key here is effective time management. If I’m going to do some procrastinating, I set limits. Ten minutes of internet gazing and then the computer goes off and it’s back to drawing blood-flow diagrams. Speaking of which. . .

Happy studying!
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