Alumni from The STATMed Class share how the program can help in med school.

In Their Words: Former Students Share How STATMed Changed Their Entire Approach to Med School

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Real Students Share What Makes the STATMed System Different

Med school is astronomically hard. Students are responsible for an overwhelming amount of information at a whirlwind pace. And, chances are, for some, the study skills that got you through your undergrad aren’t taking you as far as they used to. The STATMed Learning Program was created to share skills and strategies to help in med school. But don’t just take our word for it. 

In this podcast, we hear from several alumni from the STATMed Study Skills Class who share their thoughts after taking this 10-day program the summer after their first year of med school.  They dive into how the skills and strategies they learned transformed how they approached med school. From frameworking and retrieval practice to implementing memory palaces, they dig into the approaches that help turn their med school experience around. 

Here are the top 10 ways they say STATMed can help you succeed in med school. 

When Your “Tried and True” Falls Short 

10. “Copying and re-copying notes. When I first got to med school, it felt like the rug was sort of pulled out from under me. It was like ‘oh, just work harder.’ and at least in college, you had a sense of agency. ‘If you do this, you’ll have an [specific] outcome.’ And it’s not like that when you get to medical school.”

9. “I used to use flashcards, and that was a problem because I could remember the one thing on the flashcard and I couldn’t connect it together. Flashcards fragment the knowledge, and you don’t get the structure of the lecture.” 

8. “If you’re in medical school, you’re probably a pretty self-motivated individual that is monitoring what you think is and isn’t working. But to come up with a way to deal with it better, it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel.” 

Skills To Help in Med School 

7. “The most important method I learned in the STATMed Class was the frameworking tool. …What’s so useful about the STATMed study system is the frameworking. You have this foundation to come back to and this core method where you can pull it up and determine what role does a detail fit in the lecture. And that’s really important.” 

6.” [Mapping] is a really effective coding mechanism because they’re pictures…with a map, it’s there on paper and it’s just so easy to retrieve.”

5. “I think practice retrieval is such a huge thing because I would spend so much time on the flashcards and no actual time studying, and I was exhausted because I had spent hours. But here, on the first day, we were doing practice retrieval and I actually learned things. Now, I’m having to build a new relationship with practice questions. I turned negative feedback into positive feedback.”

4. “The main thing I got was that you have to get to the retrieval step as fast as possible. You don’t need the prettiest notes. But you do need notes that will allow you to self-test.” 

3. “The memory palace skill was really interesting. I had heard about it before, but I didn’t know how to use it. Learning how to do that was super helpful. It helped me break down a long, complex list of words that I didn’t really know and sort of attach it to images I did know. I could get through a list of 10 items really fast compared to before.” 

The STATMed Difference

2. “I have been taught all these different things and usually it was like one thing and that is the only thing you should follow. Whereas with this class, this was the first time I got a foundation that I could stand on with all these little tools I could grab from if I need them because not everything works the same for every single subject. I would fall into traps of trying to use what I was taught to use and spend more time trying to make it fit than actually learning and using it properly. So having this, where I have my base foundation for every single day when I walk into the class, and then when I go back to study I can say, well I might need this tool or that tool. It has completely opened things up for me and I am just so much more optimistic because I would walk into class sometimes and feel completely defeated … because I would look at the lecture and I am like, I’m not going to be able to get through this so it just gives me something where I am standing on solid ground.”

1. “I’d worked with other people before. And I feel like your methods — from day one — were completely the opposite of what I’ve been told before. If someone said make the mirror opposite of what I’ve been told before then that would be the STAT Program.”

“But what is great about it being the opposite though, is at night =we go home and apply it.”

“It’s one thing you telling me this. And I go okay, this is completely the opposite of everything I’ve been taught. But now when I went home and applied it, and tried to do the practice-retrieval, self-testing, and see if I could pull out the knowledge. And this was working! I kept saying ‘oh my gosh!’ every few minutes because that never happens to me and I’ve been told so many things.”

Sound familiar? Give us a call today to learn more about the STATMed Study Skills Class.

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Episode Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the STATmed podcast where we teach you how to study in med school and how to pass board style exams. Your hosts are Ryan Orwig and David LaSalle, learning specialists who have decades of experience, working with med students and physicians. In this episode, Ryan sits down with a group of students who have completed the STATmed study skills class. They talk about how they’ve changed their approach to studying and the new skills they’ve learned to help them succeed.

Student: I’ve worked with other people before and I feel like your methods were from day one, were completely the opposite of what I’ve been told.

Student: Completely opposite things up for me. And I just, I’m so much more optimistic because I would walk into class sometimes and feel completely defeated.

Announcer: Here’s Ryan

Ryan Orwig: Alright guys, we just finished our STATmed class, took about 10 days, nine days to get through all the study methodology, study skill set, test taking skill sets and time management skill sets for med students. And you guys have been gracious enough to come up here to talk a little bit about some of the stuff we did. So let’s start off talking about why, like why med school is such a ridiculously challenging construct to get through. So what are some things we talked about? Like why we did the class, what we experienced after our first year of med school? What are some things we talked about, who can share with us? Well, there’s sheer volume in med school. It’s just so much and you can’t really just take it all in. And I think prior to med school, you think that you need to basically know everything precisely and to really master everything. You really kind of just wearing yourself out completely and having a system makes it really difficult.

Ryan: I mean, yeah, med school is always criminally designed. It’s time, the volume, the distance. So much so fast. And you, again, we maybe come in and try to use our old methodologies. And what are some things that worked previously in your undergrad programs? We might remember it’s been awhile. What are some things that work that are no longer working?

Student: Copying, and recopying I would say. I think for me, like when I first got to med school at start felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath me it was like, oh, just work harder. And, you know, the sky is the limit.

Ryan:  Has been more the same. And so if I recopied in the past that’s been a two-hours recopying, almost gonna recopy for six hours.

Student:  Exactly, and you know, at least in like college and stuff, you kind of had a sense of like, agency, you know, do this, then I will have this positive outcome.

Ryan: And it was rewarded?

Student:  Yeah, yeah, that is it. And then it not. Anymore When you get to medical school.

Ryan: Alright, and it’s probably be, and again, it’s not for lack of efforts.

Student:  No, no.

Ryan: No. And so number one, one of the things is trying to, I think the first thing we do is we try to do more of the same. So recopying work, that doesn’t work in worse than other things.

Student: For me, I don’t really read copy notes that I write on and a lot of information. So I could read over my notes several times.

Ryan: You have been comparing this essay from undergraduate, how can we like, is something like triple the amount? Alright. It’s like. So, what we’re saying here is, it wasn’t that you were recopying, it was that you could reread. And what have we talked about with rereading? What is, what happens when you reread now?

Student:  Completely passive.

Ryan: It’s completely passive.

Student:  It is familiarity.

Ryan: It’s, oh yeah, its, once you run once it’s pretty much a waste of time and it’s entrenching sort of familiarity. And does that, so maybe speak to that a little bit.

Student:  Oh yeah. It’s like, it feels good because you like recognize you’ll study this stuff and you’ll recognize the terms, but then, you know, come around and test time, then you have like, you go down to two answers. It was real rough to choose between the two because everything sounds familiar.

Ryan: Familiar I know I’ve seen the stuff. It’s one or two of these guys or there’s two or three of these guys. I don’t know which one. And it’s because the reading and rereading leads to that familiarity. And then prior academic settings being supremely familiar, I got pretty well. And so what you found, I guess so when you got into this, the rereading was your thing. Why did that, how would you describe where the wheels fall off on that particular wagon?

Student:  So what I try to do is like, the first thing we had was like all familiar stuff, and I would like write down the PowerPoints in a like a file. And then I was thinking, oh, I’ll read this later. But then I could, I didn’t have time to have to write the whole thing down, and then I never got to like rereading it. And then I was like eight lectures back, because some of our themes, some things they transfer onto the next theme. And I felt like some of the things we, I thought I’ve mastered before. And that was just because I needed to just paint it in my brains on rereading it quickly, come next thing, I couldn’t pull it out. ‘Cause I didn’t really have that foundation.

Ryan: Well, you see this is that short-term to long-term memory. It’s short-term memory we think two, one to two days. But for some of us it might be longer. It might be, I’ve had people where it’s like two weeks and it feels good. It’s in a small sense. And once you come back and get it later, you’re filling up this leaky bucket. You do all this work to build the bucket and then you turn it around and it’s all about, it might be gone after a day or two days, might be gone for a few weeks. But no matter what in med school, it’s gonna come back and it’s gonna bite you and it’s gonna hurt. ‘Cause you did all the work and it was gone. What else, what else are some things that maybe were.

Student:  I used to use flashcards. And that was a problem because I would remember like the one thing on the flashcard but I couldn’t connect it together.

Ryan: And we’ve talked about this. And now that we’ve gone through the class, what would you, how would you assess what is the main detriment of flashcards, now that we’ve done this habit in class?

Student:  Well, I think it just fragments and knowledge that you don’t get that structure, a superstructure of a lecture in class.

Ryan: The lecture of the concept. So yeah, note cards and we spend time making them. Now, if you quiz off of them, then there’s some benefit, but it’s completely obscuring that organizational framework, the higher unit that we think, that we now know it was so important, and we think that that’s where medical learning has to start, learning in general. But certainly when the volumes surpasses your ability, you’ve got to have a skill where you can come in and read out that superstructure. So then you go in and again, no cards obliterate that. All these little fragments of information floating around what good is, and what good was it?

Student: Wasn’t that great.

Student: To add onto that, I used to use note cards too, but the thing is, it’s like we’ve been talking about the amount, the density, like you might have like two hundred like no card stack, and then you might lose a little bit of the organization but because it’s not that much

Ryan: Yeah, it was so fine writing out.

Student: Yeah. You can read kind of, you can regain it when you did other less effective study methods like review your notes or reread. But in medical school, I mean, I remember my first theme. I think I had 1200. And I can show it to you. It is like and when did I actually review? Like, and all my time was spent making these cards, making these outlines, like 90% of my time was spent making study materials. Two days before the exam I was like freaking out because I haven’t studied really studied anything.

Ryan: Yeah, and there was a beautiful part here. What you’re talking about too is this idea that every skill has a capacity, right? And if you, we know all of us have a capacity, like for a finite amount of information, but once it surpasses that capacity, dismissal does a great job of surpassing its capacity really quickly. It’s, it does become an obsolete skill, right? When you engage the material.

Ryan: Well, it is us, this illusion of productivity, it’s illusion of actually I should just work. I made this stuff, but that’s not where it’s at. It’s what we have to do is get through all that excess and get to practicing the recall.

Student:   And that’s where I think like the methods I got and I, really come in and I don’t think it’s, I think it’s something that most people here are pretty, you know, if you’re in medical school you’re probably a pretty self-motivated individual. All that is monitoring what you think is, and isn’t working, but to come up with like a way to deal with it better, I just don’t, don’t

Ryan: Trying to read it that way, in the semester, in the year. I think even outside, it’d be hard. Even if you guys now in between first and second year like even if it was like, hey guys go and invent your study method now. It’d still be really difficult, even impossible. You know the stakes now, you know the arena but that doesn’t mean you’re actually equipped to go build that structure.

Student: No, yeah, like something I talked a friend recently we were talking about this class is like, yeah I think what everyone kind of falls into when you first like come into med school, unless you’re one of those extremely gifted people. It’s like, not only are you reinventing the wheel but you’re reinventing the wheel that’s going like a hundred miles an hour. So it’s so difficult because the speed is, it’s like we’ve said before, if the volume, like the detail that you’re.

Ryan: You’re accountable for it.

Student:   And then on top of that it’s been thrown at you at like a hundred miles an hour. So.

Student:  And you have no, like my main thing was, I’ve learned a lot of different study skills.

Ryan: You’ve worked with other people before

Student:   I’ve worked. I have been taught all these different things. And usually it was like one thing. And that’s the only thing you should follow. Whereas with this class, it was the first time I got a foundation that I can stand on with all these little tools I can grab from if I need them because not everything works the same for every single subject. And I would fall into traps of trying to use what I was taught to use and spend more time on trying to make it fit then actually even learning or using it properly. And so having this where I have my base foundation for every single day when I walk into class, and then when I go back to study, I can say, well, I might need this tool or that tool is completely open things up for me. And I just, I’m so much more optimistic because I would walk into class sometimes and feel completely defeated. ‘Cause I’m like, I would look at the lecture and I’m like, I’m not going to be able to get through this. So it just gives me something while I’m standing on solid ground. And now I can just put the pieces back together.

Ryan: It’s pretty professed. So what, so let’s pivot a little and start talking about what are some of these, because I think what we do with STAT class, STATmed class I wanna give everyone a set of core methods that you have that I think for the most part, I mean you gotta be flexible, but you can. And again, we teach each of these skills individually in isolation, right? So you’ve got solid, we’re learning frameworking, going through different iterations, apply them. and then of course, to teach the skill, we’ve got to apply to various medical constructs, different lectures, different reviews, sources, we’re practicing. And I think by learning each skill individually, really helps. And so me sort of, I guess, you know, going over and over again by how these things work and then bringing it together. So what are some of the foundational core matters that we’re talking about. What are some of the ones that make the biggest difference?

Student: So the most important foundational core method that I’ve basically learned throughout this week was the frameworking tool. And this has basically made med school to some escalate to be really adaptive because each subject is different. Some subjects are much more conceptual, some are very detailed based. And one theme that we had, we were learning renal physiology and respiratory physiology. So two of them are somewhat connected but one respiratory is very like, you have to really imagine it, and kind of like understand it conceptually but what’s so just useful about the STATmed methods are frameworking, you have this foundation to come back to and is there a core method where you have this, just this framework of the lecture of the material where you can always pull up, get a detail and then prod back to like, what is where, what role does that detail fit into the lecture? Which is really important.

Ryan: The framework is where we come in and we rip out. So that bird’s eye view, single page, one view of the structure of any learning. Again, it can be single lecture, or set of lectures, review chapter, whatever, right? Yeah, and I think that some people just don’t build that structure. I think a lot of the messages to just cruise through. I think their brains do it automatically. I think some people don’t assign it, has nothing to do with your outcome of being a great physician or anything like that. Or having a brilliant mind, it’s going to contribute to medicine and society. But if it’s like this one thing you’re not good at, that’s a skill that can be taught. And again, it’s that foundation. And I think that’s what we’re talking about. Let’s just see it. And then it becomes a way to plan and conceptualized everything off of it, because a lot of us go through lecture and we can help bring most of us going lecture cold, you might try to preview, pre-reading. I don’t think that really does anything. And then you come out, and how do we feel before we started adding in frameworks? Terrible. We didn’t learn anything. I’m depressed, I’m depressed and exhausted And then after I cried and take the night off, I’ll start from scratch at nine o’clock at night, it’s not accessed through, right.

Student: And a lot of students come out they can recall a bunch of different pieces but there’s just absolutely no connection. To me that big picture and the framework is like your holy grail.

Ryan: I think medical learning has to start with finding that foundational structure first and reading linearly through the text is too dense. It’s too dense. You can’t find the structure. And for fourth reading, test it on details, details. We started trying to grab details first, and it’s an understandable, like the way that would be generated, but that’s not what we need. And I think we see this now, right? As we’ve practiced it with some lectures our lectures, so frameworking and other thoughts on that, up front.

Student: Well, like, one of the deans used to describe my, like a problem that I consistently had is in, I got lost in like the lips, and so.

Ryan: You’re like I’m looking at the vein. Midway up.

Student: Yeah, and she was like, you need to just be able to see the forest. You need to get the big picture. But, and then I, the other thing I found really surprising was frameworking is because like Sammy, I’ve worked with other people before. And I feel like your methods were from day one, were completely the opposite of what I’ve been told before. Completely. It’s like, like if someone said it made the mirror opposite of what I’ve been told before, then that would be the stature.

Student: It’s great about me being the opposite though, because at night we go home and apply it. Because it is one thing you telling this. And then I’m like, oh, this is completely opposite of everything I’ve ever been taught, and so forth. Went home, and I applied it and then I would actually try to do like, the practice which is self testing to see if I don’t pull out the knowledge. And I was like, this is working. And it was like, I just want to say, oh my gosh! I’m like every few minutes that never happens to me. And I’ve been told so many things.

Ryan: What are a few examples of these things you’ve been told as our world

Student: Try to find the big picture, but okay that big picture.

Ryan: Pretty everything. I mean, like reading in advanced. So the thing is, I think my brain is wired. Like, I don’t know anything. I can’t teach anything about medicine. We’re slowly after having gone through these, people are like, I don’t believe it was true. I can show you, I can help you connect to the content to the material. This is the design of it. But you know, you’ve gotta be able to find the information via frameworks or whatever it might be. But the idea of reading in advance is not sustainable time-wise. And then you’re right back to the travel we’re nearly through it and not finding structure, the keys that we have to understand what information to find out front first. And again, I think other people, I don’t know.

Student: One of the main things I’ve found too, not just, the framework that was like, okay, totally throw away all that pre-reading, reading thing everyone has ever told you, even like the supplemented things because I’ve actually been taught the supplemental things my main And because of the time, like our supplemental mapping.

Ryan: It’s like additional skills. It’s like more of these supplemental to map, visual mapping, memory palaces. I don’t think. And I have had people make, those are main things but that can’t be the through line. For most of us that needs to be a supplemental piece. And I think people freak out number one, you’re going to use memory palaces or maps. Those are supplements. What a great way to add five, seven, 10 percentage points. Really wonderful. I mean, we all take that. But then I think what a lot of specialists might be doing is trying to drink drive home, mark everything.

Student: And it’s not apply, you can’t apply it to everything. What I realized too is the way that they were teaching me, especially ever mapping, everything was so disjointed. Everything, they didn’t have a connection and you showed us multiple ways of mapping, and it makes sense that not everything you’re gonna map this, into your way and it just fit so much more for me ’cause I’m very visual. And so I’d spent a lot of time trying to find something that’s a visual format of what we’re learning. And this just made sense. Like I don’t have to always have everything visual ’cause I’m frameworking points of a lecture. But if I need it, this is the efficient way of doing, instead of wasting my time.

Ryan: If it doesn’t fit within the box of medical school then I don’t have any right telling you to do it.

Student: I think, go ahead.

Student: I’ve never seen anybody tell it better before. But like when I heard like you lecturing about the concepts, like I was like, why has nobody ever told me before? It just makes so much sense.

Ryan: We don’t teach. It’s a cultural failing. We don’t teach our people how to study. We’ve only had interventional methodologies as a culture, if somebody is profoundly struggling or if they’ve been identified. But what about the smart student who’s a little back? That is again, it’s like, you use, you’re like, you wanna do better. Well, you’re probably not working hard enough. Do more practice. Yeah but as a first year medical student I don’t really have like the resources for that. And then it’s just like, I would probably change the subject. Like make a schedule. so I’m making a schedule. Then I feel bad because I’m not meeting it. Well, make it a better study. And again, there’s a feedback mechanism. And it’s very punishing. It’s a terrible feeling.

Student. It’s almost like telling us, build a house ’cause you know what a house looks like. But you have no clue how to build that house.

Ryan: Next time you see me, I’m gonna use that. Who taught you to build my house? It’s right. That’s a wonderful analogy. You know, you can take this large aim, more of this process of studying and learning and breaking it down into more nuanced steps, and it can’t be locked into a rigid structure. So we have our formats. As we talked about the framework. We talked about going to lecture, if it’s viable, then you know, the dynamic reading and marking is an act. You can only jazz after reading so much. But again, I think we want to get through and we talk about ways to do that. So that you connect back to framework, be more augmented with it. But then it should be about getting to the reading sooner than later and not dropping that anchor, not snowplowing through, and not trying to memorize it.

Student: I was told a lot before this week, your own questions. And I’d spent a lot of time making my own questions because in that school there aren’t enough practice questions. So they’re like take the reading, take them to your left, or you’ve outlined and highlighted and like turned it upside down and inside out, like make your own questions. But I think that that’s why practice retrieval is such a huge thing. Because like I said before, I would spend so much time making these practice questions that I put on flashcards and then like no time studying. And I feel exhausted because I spent weeks like day in, day out in a library.

Ryan: Hours.

Student: Yeah, and then here, like from the first day like within a few hours we were doing practice retrieval and I actually learned things. And then I think that also for me like when I first like practiced retrieval, so something that I’m like, like I kinda like here’s a little bit because I’m so used to like sort of the, all the negative feelings that came when I finally did get around to questions and realized that I didn’t have the knowledge. And so, it like hurt. And so now, like I’m having to build a new relationship with like practice questions because every time I sit down to do a practice, I feel like at first, I’m like, I really don’t want to do this. But then at the end I’m like, oh, I actually know more. And it starts to feel good. I’m turning like a negative feedback into a positive feedback and it makes me start slowly. You start to want to do more practice retrieval.

Ryan: So that brings a tear in my eye. It is just the paradigm shift. We want to looking over stuff gives us a positive feeling. Oh, was the same thing, like you were saying that here. I recognize that as it was in front of my face. It’s like sending off good signals, but it’s not actually doing anything. It’s like going to the gym and walking around, being like, what a hell are the wonderful exercise equipment. Alright, I’ll get it tomorrow. It’s not doing the job. But this act of attempting to recall is hard. It doesn’t feel as good. Now that we’ve, a few of us have talked about this but you’ve got to build that culture. You’ve got to build your own study culture where it’s about setting your studying and setting yourself up for this. The reason we’ve done such a great job is groups. ‘Cause group, such a big group, really working on acquiring the skills and finding ways to make it fit in the real-world confines.

– Well, like those new active learning was like the best and like, a buzz right.

Ryan: Cause that one is possible like buzz words coming.

Student: And you like to like practice recalling. That was really important but I didn’t have like a structure of how to do it. So then I was like, I have like all these different methods. Like I would make questions like for every lecture in the 40 questions collection that took like two hours per lecture where I would make like this, the GI theme I made like 2000 flashcards.

Ryan: I can’t even imagine 2000 flashcards. Was it virtual?

Student: And then like each theme I wanted to do better like that would get average scores, but I always feel like betters or like, like reinvent the wheel, each theme. And then you, like, I had to make three columns for me to go to the best way to do it, but I didn’t have like a way to.

Ryan: So, yeah. I think what we’ve done is we’ve given you guys package in all these tools, like the basic self test, the time self lecture. The framework surface, that’s even use my voice slash, use all these ways. Like make sure you have the vocabulary down. If you don’t have the vocabulary, then you’re going to miss the stills. I think that’s a great thing. And notice how like with the framework from the outset all the way through, you’re setting yourself up to engage in the practice retreats. So you guys need to talk about that too.

Student: It’s just a more efficient way. ‘Cause you know, like every year, like it gets passes by we’re going to have less and less time. So.

Student: That’s the craziest part for me

Student: As a main thing I got was like, you have to get to that practice step, retrieval step as fast as possible. Like that doesn’t mean having the most prettiest notes and like everything, but having the notes that will allow you to self-test.

Ryan: Keep in mind the anchor point of the structure.

Student: And it’s great because you can come back to these notes, just how we talked about organization towards the end of the program. Like you have the framework sheet you have the notes that you dynamically marked, and the way you should mark them would, as long as it facilitates, you find the answer quickly from your framework. You really, really review these things like, on your own.

Ryan: The ability to go back to material and not have to reread it.

Student: Crazy.

Student That’s huge.

Ryan: You can self-diagnose.

Student Yeah, and you’re not relying on question

Ryan: Relying on practice questions is like fishing for a minnows with a net designed to catch whales. You might catch a few little pieces. I mean, it’s too porous. Yeah, and like, and again, we don’t want to be at this level. And this is true all the way through even boards, rotations, specialty mean it’s true all the way. I mean, once you, you can still roll in practice questions that are still too broad than that. But this, I think what you’re talking about too is the ability to help you become self-aware hyper, without guesswork. Like, I don’t know.

Student: You can’t see where it is breaking down.

Student: It is like having like a little toolbox. And before I had like a bunch of random garner as well.

Student: Smashing things, smashing myself. But it gives you, you know, you have a toolbox of ways to interact with the material that are like going to be effective but it also options to sort of change switch gears. When things, when you’re sort of hitting. Any medical student will tell you, oh my God like I just, you know, I sit in the library for like six hours a day and you know, you know you hit a point of diminishing returns, but yeah, but then not really knowing what to do from there.

Ryan: Switch gears, big deal. You’re 30 minutes into your block. You can feel yourself, either slide. I’m gonna pull my legs, all tools out of my box and blushing myself. Or, you know, what I’m saying? Well, let me bust out at time, self lecture On stuff I just read. Let me spend the last 20 minutes drawing a map. That’s only 20 minutes of this call. I’m gonna spend 20 minutes on a, gym and out. I mean, you know, self test off a memory house I already made. Or you make some voice flashes. I mean, you can, you can still stay on task. ‘Cause that’s not, multi-center, that’s not multitasking. You’re still within the realm of working on what you’re working on.

Student: And then you have your framework. So when you do transition back, you’re like, oh this is where I stopped. And I know that because I have this as opposed to not knowing what the heck is going on in the lecture. And that was actually, I tried that a few days ago and I was surprised that it worked because I was sitting down and I was listening to the lecture and I was trying to dynamic, or not that I was trying to just keep up with it. And it was like that terrible, terrible lecture that you gave us from like second year. And then.

Student: I didn’t think it was that. I mean it wasn’t such tainting.

Ryan: I was just a messenger.

Student: It’s one of those things where the professor works so hard on entertaining that he forgets to teach. And I’m just like, but I still need to know this material. And I don’t and like, great. That joke was funny, but like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to know. And then I felt very overwhelmed, which is a huge thing with me and studying, is making sure that I keep my anxiety in check. And so I stopped and I was like, alright, I’m probably gonna go for a walk or, you know, do something. And I was like, let me try, let me try what Ryan said, let me do a little practice retrieval. And I did it and I did really well. And I felt really good about myself and like took three minutes. And then I went right back into the lecture and I felt like refresh. And I was like, and I was really skeptical about that because like I told you, I was like, when I go into a practice room, like, I don’t wanna do this. This works. So it’s like

Ryan: It’s also stopping. And then going to another test, and now you’re be able to maintain your momentum. And I think that’s that might have also been surprising for you.

Student: Yeah. Because if I would have gone for a walk what I usually justify with like, oh, going for a walk is really good. It clears my head space, but that’s just like 10 minutes for me to like, come back down again and then be able to re-engage with the material. And there’s always like a little bit of lag.

Ryan: It’s not efficient. And again, we talked about efficiency is one of those words we just throw around like, how important is efficiency here? Its everything.

Student: If you’re really, really engaged with the material. Like you could get something done in an hour that you could otherwise literally, spend an entire day trying to find your ground through, and be like, oh, I just watched the foreign YouTube videos, trying to figure out what’s going on here. And if, this sort of gives you back a sense of kind of like control. It gives your.

Ryan: I think you have the management, but again, I think you need to be able to break large tasks into smaller tasks. And let’s talk about the idea of study And that’s that sort of personal management tool. I think as human beings, we be like crossing items off the list, and you guys will be like I need to get your cluster A, a cluster B unless you see today. Good. That’s not a good workflow. One day crossed off, and feeling like a failure. And you’re not, it’s not building momentum. So, right, so we, you know, we built that skill. I mean, I think that’s important.

Student: Yeah, that one was the key for me because I am notorious. Like I get a big sheet of paper and I just list everything that I need to do. And I was a bit too ambitious at times. And then I would only finish like maybe 5% of it and I’d feel very defeated. But when I was breaking them down into little tasks and jumping around. And I just jumped around and I feel like I’ve gotten.

Ryan: You will. You know, let’s pivot a little bit. ‘Cause we probably are running a little long. Let’s maybe go around. What, let’s say, what skill you talk about. I don’t know, one skill, one insight, one comment or something. Maybe you’re here. Maybe talk about maps or talk about in a memory palace skills.

Student: Yeah, the memory palace skill was really interesting. I had heard about it before, but people memorizing things based on like spaces like their home or otherwise, but I didn’t really know how to like put that into motion.

Ryan: It’s a little more nuanced. It’s just pretty mechanical, right? Yeah. Well, we have to be able to turn the medical imaging, medical concepts into non-medical imagery. That’s one of the secret elements. And then I was like a touch as an object.

Student: And like learning how to do that I thought was like super helpful. Like it helped me like break down a list of like long complex words that it didn’t really know and sort of attach it to images that I did know. And I could get through a list of like 10 items really, really fast compared to before. I would go over it and I’d only get it two, and I go over it again. I get three.

Ryan: And then where is it? Two weeks, two months from now.

Student: Yeah, so memory palaces I think they changed my whole method of memorizing material. I used to do a lot of flash cards and online programs, a hundred to a thousand cards program. But memory palaces are really efficient because they use your own imagination and it’s just the crazier, the wackier, the image. The short knowledge you have. It is about culture, we have knowledge, all that stuff and recycle it, and actually use it for learning. It’s crazy. And what is so beneficial again, about the program is that you really learn as utility in medical school, it’s whole in medical school because you hear about my memory palaces and media, and as you, as we learned in the program, they’re used for like memory competitions to like learn a stack of cards, but it is a different ballgame when you’re trying to use it for your own utensil. It’s a whole complex skill set it’s very marketable, but there’s some series, there’s some, you know, there’s some blood, sweat and tears on your own, doing that on your own would be a hassle.

Ryan: It took me a good five years to build that system.

Student: We don’t have that long.

Ryan: So, let me take that one for the team.

Student: Oh, it was really nice the way that it was presented to such that it’s not like here’s, here’s a skill, like this is the one way that you can use it. And that’s traditionally, I don’t know about you guys but how at times, getting advice in terms of your approach studying. It’s well, this is the way you have to do it and that’s that.

Student: No, but this was it’s like you have the foundation and then you can tweak it, just like to suit your own needs. And you know, I think that’s more appealing to me.

Ryan: And then it is like getting it and teaching it to my real medical stuff. For information like how do you apply it to all the different things we use. Like common caused pneumonia, graves’ disease, all of that.

Student: Yeah, and then it’d be like a sort of just like a segue to becoming something that you ultimately know, even with. I know even with some of the earlier maps and stuff we did and I’m like, oh, I don’t even necessarily need to think about that map anymore. I just know, I just know that this is, and this symptom is associated with this disease.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s the, the scaffolding, and you certainly know the information.

Student: One thing that I think probably everybody who signs up for a course like this really wants to know about the testing, because a lot of times people they do study to take an exam.

Ryan: Your entire career is going to be dictated by performance on tests, classroom, boards, shelves, in services, rest of your lives.

Student: One thing I noticed about it because I would say I’m not the best at tests. I’ve never been, but having this myth of where, and this was throughout the whole course, where you’re really trying to analyze how you think about things and how you get to the next point and then how to tweak and change those ways so that you can make sure you get the most out of it every moment. And what are I even realize in some of the people in our class, I would say they probably don’t have as much problems or don’t have problems at all with test taking. I was still huge, and saying oh, that’s a good way. So I think even if you don’t have an issue with test taking having a method going into taking a test, I think gives you this peace of mind that you are actually going to be able to allow your knowledge to come out on a piece of paper. Because I always would tell my professors and my teams, I always felt like a caged bird that I have all this knowledge and during like, the kinda opening the door, you can kind of see through, but at the exam the doors would just completely shut again. And I feel like using this, although we won’t be able to practice it as much, but when we have the opportunity, I think it’s to let me really, completely open the door. And I’m looking really forward to that.

Ryan: On test taking taking stuff that I give you guys is pretty calm, pretty detailed, right? It’s not superficial. It’s not about me and the test, it’s not about inductive reasoning strategy or any of that garbage I don’t care about. It’s about cleaning up your interface, limiting the burden you’re drag. So it’s not collapsing on you as you’re, and there is very much steps, right? You think like, oh, you have 75 seconds per question. But if you use the process, is keeping you on track. It’s keeping all the access or trimming out all the fat, all the spinning of the wheels, And, you know working toward eliminating those wrong choices, showing what you know, analyzing process. Now, I mean, you know, obviously that’s been a tremendous amount of work, and that’s probably one of the things we did the most. ‘Cause we also work with all of our doctors with that, but it’s pretty robust. And I think you guys could see that, right?

Student: Yeah. I liked what you said about, you know, the questions that we take on exams. They’re really long questions. I mean, they’re enormous and there can be a lot of answer choices like before it was very simple in my like, undergrad to take a course. But now it’s so huge that like to have that whole thing in your memory at the same time, it’s overwhelming. So taking it like one chunk at a time, like you teach in your course, like that has really helped me.

Ryan: I think the work tests that breaks down for most people is that, that working memory or executive functioning is sort of collapsing under the burden of these massive questioning constructs. Can you fix your ability to whatever your working memory is, what you have, right? Whatever your executive functioning is, what you have. So we like, yeah, let’s approach the questions in a way where we can manage the information and show a little better. I think that, and again, I think you guys were really excited about that. Soul.

Student: I was gonna say my favorite skills is the frameworking because I get so much out of lecture. I actually stopped going to lecture midway through because like the third lecture I’d just be so burnt out, stop paying attention. And then like the rest of the lecture would just be useless. So then having the framework, right. I can like pick up where I left off and sitting back while watching the lecture then using that as like a study tool to practice retrieval. It’s like amazing.

Ryan: That’s music to my ears. What about maps? Can you just talk briefly about maps.

Student: I was really skeptical with the maps, but the reason I laughed is because now it’s like, I don’t think it’s gonna be one of my main study methods because it is a little time consuming, but I really like it because I can sit down or you conceptualize them. I could do my rough drawing. And then, because I will need freaking like everything to be colored in. And I can like sit down and watch TV during my, like our R&R time, but I’m sitting there coloring in my map, and so it gives me, and I like coloring.

Ryan: So some therapeutic effect?

Student: Yeah, and I use like the netters coloring book and sort of, so because I think there’s also like a lot of guilt associated when we do have free time in grad school. So it made me feel like just a little less guilty like I’m watching TV, but look, I’m also coloring my map.

Ryan: And that’s almost rare instances where there’s probably some value in that.

Student: I think, well, the reason why I really liked it is because at first I thought it was really silly. And I was like, probably like, I don’t draw. Like, I’ll probably.

Ryan: That’s great.

Student: On the other, honestly, after the first practice retrieval I had like a hundred percent and then then I completely left it alone. And then the next day we did it in class and I remembered 90% of it. And the only reason that I didn’t remember one of them is because it was like my first map and I didn’t do one of the symptoms the way, like, it just wasn’t clear enough. Yeah. And I still remember it. Like, if you really quiz me on it right now.

Student: They’re really effective in learning mechanisms ’cause they’re all just visual pictures either. If it’s a memory palace, it’s a visual in your head whereas a map, it’s a visual on a paper, and it’s just something that’s so easy to just retrieve because we just.

Ryan: Visual memory is more powerful. And there are those visual, like, you know, there’s like there are programs out there premed visuals is fine. And if those weren’t useful, but sometimes I think there’s value in making your stuff.

Student: I have a lot of experience with mapping but it’s not the most efficient mapping. And so you’ve taught me how to make one hint. And one thing I liked about this class which is not something that’s going to probably happen on out, when we’re out of the class but having this as a group class, I remember one time we had to go over a map and I was with Michael and I was talking about, I couldn’t figure out how to make these or sounds out or whatever. And she gave me some of his method and it was really nice to be in this class to pull from each other to really, because you have in your mind this is how we go, and someone else is going to be like that.

Ryan: So I have this, this curricular design where I’ve gone outside our scope and sequence, I know what I want to hit, when I’m gonna hit it, how I’m going to hit it. But there are hidden curricular aspects. And there’s like a secondary aspect of the class. And that is being in a group. Being in a group, and I put you guys in this discussion group. So sharing groups, not show and tell it’s designed to augment learning curve by saying, that we both wrestle with the same thing. Oh, how’d you do this? And that is a great way to really accelerate the learning. And I think that, you know, that’s always always a good thing to hear. So let’s wrap up here. Any other thoughts on this before we finish up? I mean, I really appreciate you guys sharing your thoughts. I really enjoy getting to know you guys. That’s really the fun, the most fun part about this is taking these highly motivated adults who are hungry, and say like, you know, like, I will work. I will work. You guys like, we like learning. It gets the thinking out of us, you know, is being out of us. And then you start unlocking all these methods. And I think, you know, your candor and your feedback is always super appreciated. And you know, this is all relationship stuff. And people reach out to me and they ask me questions. A lot of these methods have evolved because I keep feedback with people, and they tell me, and I like listening. And I like to listen to wait to hear, oh, well, why don’t pick your brain on it. Feedback is always a really good thing.

Student: If I was to say one thing, I would suggest everyone take this course because my mom always tells me that she’s just like, to me you can decide to either swim upstream or you can just go with the flow downstream. And I feel like taking this course, even though medical school is difficult, it helps you just kind of go with the flow. So you’re not having, you don’t have a battle as much. And there’s some things about.

Ryan: That way you focus your energy on the right.- 

Student: On the right yeah. Exactly. And is there something about going in and feeling like, I’m not going to be fighting medical school, fighting to understand this stuff, and I’m just gonna use a method that I know will help me to really solidify everything that I feel like I’m going downstream now.

Student:I love how it’s offered. Like right after we can take it, you know, after our first year, like we looked back on the year and see like, how do we really do try our own things? And then like, you know, there’s so many things we can do over the summer. I felt like getting, you know, study skills like down before the next year, it’s like a great time to do it.

Ryan: And you I don’t know if you guys realize he got in the class, like the day before.

Student: Yeah. Oh, it was really great. Like I was always thinking of I’m super lucky to do it.

Ryan: Cause I think it makes a big difference. And again if people are gonna do it at different times I think doing it after you’ve done the first year it makes me preach to the choir a little bit, you know, because you guys know what the deal is.

Student: See, I wish we would have had it from like first year. So like when I do tours and stuff, I always tell people it’s like medical school is like, everyone is, it’s like the Olympics. Everyone is not the best at what they do. And like you’re used to being number one where everybody here is number one. We’re all like running this Olympic race. And I know for me, just as I took time off, it’s like I was number one, but then I retire, and I came back in. And it was like, and I’m but I didn’t train out to it. I just started sprinting like the Olympic race. And so that’s why I was like, I wish I had this beforehand because this is sort of like the training. Like, skate. Yeah.

Ryan: I think for for some of you guys, I would not have wanted to teach you, like before you started this for a person. Maybe I would say it to you, maybe, I don’t know, but I think for some of you it definitely, definitely.  That’s right. Some of us do need to know the landscape of the battle arena of medical school. To me, how I can preach time, volume, density is crazy. But if you don’t, you don’t know. So this is defense. I think that’s good. I really appreciate you guys spending your time talking to me here in front of this camera and all these chairs. So thank you again so much. We don’t know how it’s gonna work for every individual because there are other variables to consider but there is something to be said for, yes, this absolutely is about studying but it’s also about living it and succeeding in medical school.

Student: And to add to that, I also feel like it gives you a cushion because sometimes like, that free time is hopefully spent on improving your quality of life. But in med school, life keeps happening. And sometimes that extra time sort of act like a cushion. So if something crazy happens in your life you still have the studying part under control and you can still continue in medical.

Student: If something happens in your family or something happens in your health. I sprained my ankle and was in a boot for like after the first month of class. And I had to do everything off. Then I also had that.

Ryan: Absolutely. Absolutely. So I think that’s all great guys. Thank you so much.

– [All] Thank you.

Announcer: Thanks for tuning in. In future episodes, Ryan and Dave we’ll dig into some of the study strategies students mentioned in this show. If you liked this episode, be sure to rate it on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes. You can find more test taking and studying strategies, specifically developed for med students and physicians over at our blog on Thanks for listening.

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