Medical school is as challenging as is prestigious. The amount of studying you have to do before you earn that medical license could seem insurmountable. But you can have a relatively easier time if you’re creative with the time and resources at your disposal. Here are a few study tips, tricks, and strategies that will help you cover more ground and improve your information retention when studying for your medical license:
Small bites over huge chunks!
There’s no question that the coursework for any medical-related course is overwhelming. You can easily burn out and fall off the wagon if you choose to study the entire course as a single compact unit. It is easier to understand and retain content when you break it up into small, digestible topics and then create links between those topics.
If you’re reading up on pharmaceuticals, for example, you can break up the topic into drug types. Learn everything there is to learn about antidepressants, for instance, and then read up on antihistamines or antibiotics in a different setting. If you’re studying human anatomy, you can create one flashcard for each of the eleven major body systems for easier memorization.
Create or join a study group
If you are good at collaborating with others, you will find study groups immensely helpful. Your study buddies will help you review clinical scenarios, practice quiz questions, and keep you motivated. Just be sure to keep your study group to a maximum of four study buddies who share the same ambitions as you. Taking practice exams is particularly helpful because it helps you get familiar with the format of different exams, which gives you more confidence and self-belief.
Note: If you don’t like group work or if you easily get distracted when collaborating with others, try working with only one study buddy. Another idea would be to seek assistance and clarifications from instructors regularly. Just don’t do it alone.
There’s something about visuals that seems to work magic even for medical and nursing students who don’t identify as visual learners. Videos and images will help you digest complex medical material such as organ systems and drug metabolism more effectively. Another advantage of videos is that you can even listen in while working out or taking an evening walk. And with online learning platforms for medicine such as Osmosis from Elsevier, getting videos on medical and health topics is effortless these days.
You can get coursework on a wide range of topics, from pharmacology to physiology and pathology. The videos are developed with USMLE, COMLEX-USA, PANCE, and other board exams in mind, exactly what you need to pass your exams. Such study guide for NCLEX, USMLE, and others, are created in a way that makes the comprehension and learning processes much easier for medical students.
Create the best studying environment for yourself
For starters, invest in a good set of earplugs that enable you to listen to coursework materials anytime and from anywhere. Back home, carve out a space for yourself that’s out of bounds to pets and other family members. Let everyone in the household know that once you’re in that space, no one should disturb you unless there’s an emergency. While at it, turn your cell phone to “do not disturb” to keep off unwanted distractions. Finally, bring lavender and peppermint into the space because they smell great and will help you relax.
Prioritize your mental and physical health
Don’t study until you drop! You need to take care of your mental and physical health in order to increase your capacity to absorb and retain content. You can do this by:
Getting plenty of rest. Have proper sleep hygiene so that you can stay focused and alert during the day.
Have a healthy diet. Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is easier to study when you’re healthy.
Take breaks to prevent potential burnout. Just take 20 minutes to stretch, take a walk, or just relax every couple of hours.
– Don’t forget to have fun as you study in order to clear out any worries or fatigue.
– Don’t forget to breathe!
– Exercise every day to keep your spirits high.
– Set realistic daily goals.
– Build a support network of friends, family, instructors, and classmates.
The key to getting your medical license faster and easily is learning how to manage your time and optimize your content-retention capacity. Study as effectively as possible, one day at a time.