What I Learned About Myself During Anatomy Class: Helpful Tips for Starting Med School
November 15, 2013
Hello my future and current medical school readers! I officially finished anatomy a few weeks ago and I can honestly say that I don’t miss it. It turns out that anatomy wasn’t really my strong suit as a student, but today I want to talk a little bit about my struggles with the class so hopefully you can learn from my experiences.
First off, I had been out of school for awhile before I started medical school in August. I was initially worried because I haven’t been required to study, memorize or be tested on material in over three years. This turned out to be a fairly accurate worry. If you have been away from school for a few years, it’s hard to get into the studying groove. It turns out that like any major skill, if you don’t use it, you lose it. It took me a while to find a location, style, and group setting that worked for memorizing the anatomy information and getting it to stick on Test Day.
Secondly, I did not use my resources effectively. I started off not using the practice tests, the useful mnemonics from my classmates and the Bone Room (where they keep human bones for studying) as frequently as I needed to. I felt like I was somehow independent of these useful resources and worried that using them made it look less like I knew what I was doing. Sidenote- worrying about looking stupid or silly in medical school is an absolute waste of time. Everyone looks silly at some point, so you might as well get it out of the way early.
Fortunately, after the first test, which did not go well at all, I had the wherewithal to ask for help. This is the single biggest piece of advice that I can give you for your medical school career. As students in undergrad, we almost never had to ask for help. We pre-meds were the top of our classes and multitasked like champions. In medical school, at some point, you will need to ask for help. It may be a tough concept, a hard test, being overwhelmed and needing advice about how to organize, but you will need assistance.
Don’t be too proud to ask for it when you need it. When I acknowledged that I needed help, people rushed to help me and anatomy got much easier. I am, however, glad to have moved on to the biochemistry/epidemiology section of my medical school classes. Now I can return the favor and help my classmates who didn’t major in biochem.
Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over six years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.