Here’s something I have been doodling around with. It’s a flowchart for improving any aspect of your life, but I think it applies well in med school. Our school had 4 weeks of lecture and a week of tests, 6 times throughout the year. Whatever BS they tried to call it, a “pass/fail” system, when you give a breakdown of Honor/High Pass/Pass/Marginal Pass/Fail reads ABCDF. One thing I noticed is that as I took on extracurriculars (and got a bit burned out) I worked less hours per day. I slacked, but my grades stayed steady. I increased my efficiency and quality, but let my awareness and especially my motivation slip. I had been implicitly implementing this flowchart, but I wish I had spent more time analyzing the details of how I was progressing. I feel very satisfied with my scores, but I don’t feel I reached my potential. I can’t imagine many med students saying they did. This is a (hypothetical) attempt to diagnose why I did poorly after a test, in say biochemistry, for example…
WHAT?!? Barely passed? Let’s break it down:
- Ok, I want to do well (decision).
- Motivation: So that if a patient comes in with a metabolic disease, I don’t run a million tests or completely miss an easily manageable problem.
- More motivation: To nail down biochem so that I own it on Step 1 and land that Orthopedic residency and never have to remember the citric acid cycle ever, ever again.
- More motivation: Bragging rights. Beating that average + 1-2 SDs.
- Awareness: Do I know what I need to study? How are the test questions written? Is there a book that tends to teach that style?
- Efficiency: Is using a computer the best idea (distractions)? Am I just passively glossing over information instead of retaining it?
- Quality: Is this the best source/style for my learning? Am I getting my bang for my buck.
- Action: Take the next round of tests.
- Results: Barely passed again!? Back to the drawing board….or
- Results: Honors!!! Ok, what worked, what was a waste of time.
The same can be used for exercising, eating healthy, other skills…(We med students don’t have much going on in our lives).