Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Anxious about FAINTING in anatomy? Part 2: Tips and tricks

In my last blog, I mentioned my love-hate relationship with anatomy. I was struggling to find a way to lessen my anxiety while working with cadavers as well as maintain my marks. Initially, I found it very difficult to keep up with anatomy because I was so inefficient in my studying. Here are a few tricks I used to keep sane during this component of the curriculum, and inevitably ace the final exam:

FIND A STUDY BUDDY
If you are anxious about the lab, you need to find a way to feel safe and supported. One of the best ways I did that was by studying during the lab with two classmates. After a while, I started to forget why I became so anxious in the first place and looked forward to being in the lab simply because I had friends to support me through it. 

Make the best of your time by going through your study check-list and quizzing each other until you know it by heart ;)




PRE-READ BEFORE LECTURES AND LABS
It's been my experience that anatomy lectures are very technical, and it basically feels like a bunch of incomprehensible language being thrown at you. But, if you've already read through the lecture notes and have attempted to commit the terminology to memory, your lab will go by much smoother. The more active you are during lab, the more you will retain. Try going through your check-list beforehand and reading the applicable material in your textbook. As with anything that requires memorization, the more you see it, the easier it will be to retain it. 


KNOW BOUNDARIES/LIGAMENTS/ORIGINS/INSERTIONS/NERVE/ARTERY/VENOUS SUPPLY
Whenever you are learning about a structure, it's often insufficient to simply identify the structure. Spend the time not only in identifying the structures, but understanding the material that feeds the second order questions that they could ask. This is especially applicable if your school requires you pass a written exam, or a lab exam with a high percentage of second order questions. 


CREATE OR USE AN ANATOMY WORKBOOK
This is especially useful if you are a visual learner, like myself. I spent quite a lot of time gathering and drawing my own anatomical artwork and making study worksheets. This can be quite consuming but if you're visual/kinaesthetic, it's an invaluable study aid as you WILL remember the anatomy incredibly well. Jasmine will show you the steps to creating an anatomy workbook:


Now you simply repeat the process until you've gone through your check-list and you'll have your own check-list based worksheet you can use throughout the semester. 


I hope these tips can help you manage your way through anatomy. To make this list complete, I've added a couple of resources down below that have helped considerably. 

Good luck!

RESOURCES

HUMAN ANATOMY QUIZ:
http://ect.downstate.edu/courseware/haonline/quiz.htm

ANATOMY GUY:
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrAnatomyGuy


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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

How I create my study schedules for med school.



There are no firm "rules" to creating a study schedule, and I find that the more aggressively I organize a schedule, the more I rebel from it. This is a general outline, and what works for me might not work for you. So be patient with yourself, flexible, and forgiving until you find something that works. Rest assured, you'll get into your own groove in no time :)

RECORD YOUR COURSE SCHEDULE
At the start of the block, I like to do as much work as possible to lessen the work load as I go throughout the course. I'll start by looking at the syllabus and seeing what I need to accomplish. Then I'll use a software program, like iCal, to enter my classes. iCal is great as it syncs to my mobile device. Once I've established the amount of time dedicated to class, I have a better idea of the amount of "free" time I have to spend on studying.

HAVE A GENERAL PLAN OF ATTACK  FOR STUDYING
I have a study system for each individual week of my course. Here is an example of a "light" week:
  • SATURDAY/SUNDAY
    • complete all of the week's objectives
    • complete the weekly quiz
  • MONDAY - FRIDAY
    • solidify lecture notes
      • e.g. I do this by utilizing a whiteboard/creating mindmaps/etc.
    • study specific problem areas I've identified in my weekly quizzes
    • read/outline relevant chapters 
    • get ahead for the following week(s)
    • use board review prep books to assess my knowledge
    • for anatomy:
      • visit the lab on Fridays with 1-2 classmates to review our check-list
You most definitely do not have to follow my schedule, but I find it useful to have a general scheme that you stick to as it alleviates a lot a stress. And stress, as you know, is not fun.

GET AHEAD AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
I find this especially important in the final block before our final exams as our finals are chunked together (e.g. we'll have 11 exams at the end of our semester). By completing all of my block objectives in the first week, I was able to dedicate more time studying the blocks before it.

CREATE A DAILY SCHEDULE
I typically do this before I dive into my studying that day. For example, I have a general to-do list for my week (see above). Then, for any given day I'll again write a general to-do list. 

E.g. 
  • MONDAY (GI block)
    • understand lecture 4
    • skim chapter 4 
    • create/review flashcards
    • understand innervation/blood supply of the GI tract
Furthermore, I'll allocate a general time frame for each of my tasks. I try to make this draft flexible enough that, if need be, I can change my game plan.

E.g.
  • Monday (GI block - the esophagus)
    • 3-4:30 PM
      • understand lecture 4 
    • 4:45-6:00 PM
      • skim/read chapter 4
    • 6-7 PM
      • dinner break! 
    • 7-7:50 PM
      • create/review flashcards
    • 8:00-9:00 PM
      • review GI innervation/blood supply
    • 9:15 PM +
      • if need be, finish any incomplete tasks
      • cool down, relax, and sleep!

A FEW GENERAL PRINCIPLES:
  • Do more challenging tasks near the beginning; cool down towards the end
  • Be flexible with your study schedules 
    • they might need to change depending on your mastery of the material/work ethic that day
  • Opinion on paper vs digital planners
    • use whatever you'll stick to :) 
      • e.g.
        • I use iCal for my course schedule
        • I use an agenda for my monthly schedule
        • I use a blank sheet of paper to create my weekly schedule
        • I use a whiteboard for my daily schedule
  • Use different colours for different topics
    • this will make your schedule much more fun and organized
  • Check things off as you go
    • gives you a sense of accomplishment!
I hope this helps! Best of luck in the new academic year - make 2013/2014 a good one :)

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Image: source

Sunday, 11 August 2013

How to Outline Your Textbooks

Hey everyone!

As you all know, it's back to school time (yay -.- ... ). I'd like to share a couple of tips today on how outline your textbooks. It's a great way to condense the amount of re-reading you'll have to do before your exam time. I generally like to read and outline my text before the course begins and then review the outline during the block. It helps solidify the information.

The more you review, the more you will (theoretically) retain.




WHAT YOU WILL NEED:


  • Textbook
  • Computer with a word processor
    OR
  • Spiral Notebook
  • Pens
  • Highlighters

DEMO:

GRAB THE TEXTBOOK

Refer to your course outline and identify the textbook(s) you wish to outline.

The textbook I am using is "Thomsen. First Principles of Gastroenterology: The Basis of Disease and Approach to Management, 5th ed." This is a required textbook for my gastrointestinal block. After sifting through my course schedule, I've identified the chapters that appear to be most relevant for this block. 


SKIM/REVIEW THE CHAPTER
This will give you an idea of what you will be covering.

If I don't have time to read the entire textbook, I'll simply read over the relevant sections I wish to cover that day.


CAPITALIZE HEADINGS AS SHOWN IN THE TEXTBOOK
This is simply to provide organization and continuity between your textbook notes and the textbook you are outlining.

In the textbook I am currently outlining, the first heading is "Introduction." So I will write down "INTRODUCTION" as my first heading. As well, I will number my headings as that is how they've been outlined in Thomsen's text.

INDENT

When outlining the relevant sections, I will outline them as follows:
--------------------------------------------------------------
-> MAIN TOPIC


  • Point 1
    • Examples/further clarification
--------------------------------------------------------------

Essentially, as you become more detailed, the indentation becomes greater and greater. Skimming/reading the relevant sections of the chapter ahead of time will allow you to efficiently organize your points and examples. 

E.g. 


USE HIGHLIGHTERS
You can jazz up the outline by highlighting important terms.

I will typically create my outline on my PC and then print out the outlines which I keep in duo-tangs, or binders for larger outlines. Once printed, I highlight away.

I hope this helps!

Good luck outlining.

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Reference:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVrslRCDZSQ

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