Study Tips for the New MD1 Students

New students are already flocking Bonaire with their excitment of studying medicine with dedication. If you’re an MD1 in two to three weeks onward you’re going to ask yourself what did you get yourself into. The amount of studying you have to do is ridiculously crazy. The amount of information you have to retain is so massive. You will have to study like you never studied before in your life. I’m an MD4 now and it’s been over a year since I studied in SJSM and in the following post I will tell you how to conduct your studying habits so you can do well in these medical school exams.

Medical Ethics
Medical ethics is the easiest class in MD1 and it seems like a joke to most people and to me it was. However, you still need to look over the material at least 2 times to do well. In order to do well in that class, pay attention to Dr. D or whoever is teaching. I don’t want to write out any full names of any teachers online, but if you have the Serbian teacher Dr. D, a very smart man by the way, then you should read on. Pay attention to what Dr. D is teaching. Make sure you write down the case studies he presens and discusses in class. He will test you based on those case studies and know the components of what is what. If there are any definitions, understand them, apply them in case studies, and then memorize them hard-core. Read his slides at least twice and you should be fine for his tests, it’s not hard as the other classes.

Gross Anatomy
Anatomy class is demanding, but it’s not impossible to get an A. If you’re good at memorization by picturing things then this class should be a breeze. Anatomy is mostly about memorizing the different bones and muscles of the human body. Also, you have to know the nerves and which muscles they work with. Anatomy tests are based on the lecture in class which is a major part and the practical test which is the minor part. The Board Review Series Anatomy book is the guide for this class. In the back of each chapter do those practice questions; if you can answer all those practice questions then you should not be making anything less than an A. In Anatomy lab, pay attention to what the instructor tells you to study. And keep your ears open to which muscles the instructor mentions and study that hardcore, and also study what the “clinical significance” is of whatever he mentions.

Dr. B, the Pharmacology teacher who teaches in MD3, also teaches embryology. In his class don’t even look at the text book. Study from his PowerPoint slides, it has everything you need to get an A in his tests. His tests are straight forward, however all of his questions are clinical based because all the USMLE Step 1 questions are clinical based. The Fall 2010 class is the largest batch of students in SJSM history so he may or may not give a review before the test depending on time, but if he does give a review PAY ATTENTION to him. In his review he will tell which slides to ignore and which slides to study. I can’t stress enough when I tell you DON’T study from the text book; STUDY HIS SLIDES.

Histology class is the most demanding and the hardest class of MD1. The dean of Basic Sciences, Dr. K, teaches this class and he expects a lot from his students. When I was an MD1 he told me and my class “you’re all MDs, you have to struggle”. Therefore, you can get an idea of what you’re about to go through. For me I spent 80% of my study time for Histology and I did well in my first test because I put so much effort into it. Just like Embryology slides, you need to study from Histology slides. The test comes directly from the slides. Histology class has so much volume of information that you may or may not be able to study everything. The key to studying Histology is repetition. If you read a slide don’t spend 30 minutes on it trying to memorize it, move on to the next slide after reading and understanding it once. Go through an entire set of slides once and then do it over again. The more repetitions you do the more the information will stick to your head, and that’s the key in studying histology; repetition is the key.

Just keep in mind what I wrote above. Don’t deviate from it because I went through MD1 last year and the teachers have no changed so most things have stayed the same. I wrote this post to help the new MD1s and it is your choice to follow it. Good luck and I hope you will enjoy this semester with us as you study and begin your medical career.

Mistakes of MD1

In this post I would like to point out my mistakes from MD1; I learned lessons which I learned through experience while staying in Bonaire.

Room Mates
The people who I roomed it were not the people who they claimed to be. The Chicago office does a good job in pairing people, but once you live with them then it’s whole new story. People who I roomed with talked about studying and getting serious, but after a month or so, they got caught up with island parties. Not only that, I had stay with sport fanatics, who would keep up with scores the night before the exams. I’m not saying I’m perfect; I have my flaws of paranoia which pissed them off. I met my roommates on Bonaire so, I had to deal with them. One thing you’ll learn, never room with your friends, because you will loose friendship with them.

Showing Desperation
In Bonaire, my roommates showed desperation in getting a place to stay. For that, the landlord charged 3 times the normal price for rent. Never show desperation to the landlords, because they don’t care that you’re a student with limited money; they’ll do their best to suck out all the money out of you and leave you stranded. However, I’m sure it’s the same anywhere else in the world, but this relates to Bonaire only.

Don’t Wait for Anything or Anyone
In Bonaire, you would think people are laid back, which is true, but you shouldn’t be laid back. You’re a foreigner, and a student; therefore, don’t ever wait till last minute to do anything because you may suffer for it. If a payment is due at a certain date, don’t worry about any grace period, just pay it off ASAP.
Voice Recorder
I should’ve gotten this in MD1 semester. A voice recorder helps a lot if you loose attention in class. A lot of these teachers have monotone voices, so it’s easy to get distracted with some other thought in your head. When you’re in school from 8 AM to 5 PM, you will be tired and you will miss important things that the instructors tell you.

The Semester is Almost Over

So the time is near till the end of the semester. I am anxious to go back to the States and enjoy the simple luxury that America provides that we take for granted every day. These four months on the island flew by. I came to Bonaire in the last week of August and now it’s December. I have just one more day of exams and a lot of packing to do. I dropped off my last batch of laundry to the laundry mat and I must say I’m getting ripped off. I could do the laundry myself but I don’t have the time nor would I be able to sit and wait in the hot laundry mat. These locals know we’re Americans and Europeans so they charge as much as they want. I still have to write a post of how the immigration office processed my permit. I was one of the handful of people who had my permit processed faster than others. I turned all my paperwork around the due date that the school set for me so it was sent down here quicker.