3 Common Study Problems Med School Students Face

3 Common Study Problems Med Students Face

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Photo: Ryan Orwig, Founder of STATMed Learning

By Ryan Orwig, Founder of STATMed Learning


STATMed Success Story: Sophia

It is easy to take for granted all the success of our STATMed Study Skills Class students experience.  

I was reminded of how awesome it is that we help so many med students in so many ways when I spoke to Sophia the other day, a former student.

STATMed Study Skills Class

When I met her, she had just failed her first year of medical school, the first time she ever failed anything. To say she was upset would be an understatement. But more than that, she frustrated that she did not know a better way to study, that no one had taught her the best practices for managing the sheer volume of information required of her as a med student.

Her main issues were:

1.    A Lack of Framework: She was focusing on learning details first (that is what she was tested on, after all) and not finding the organizational super-structure of a given lecture or concept. This is a fatal flaw, and we fixed this by teaching the skill we call “frameworking”

2.    The Illusion of Productivity: She spent so much time re-organizing PowerPoints into master review sheets; this feels productive and requires time and effort, but it does not truly build understanding; we replaced with the Core STATMed Study System

3.    An Over-Reliance on Review: Re-reading, looking over material already read or re-written, “seeing” the material multiple times… these are all traps for some students. We replaced this with multiple retrieval practice strategies, which produces a much higher yield.

When I meet students like her, I am always impressed by the intellect and drive they possess. The issue is that they often lack the discrete tools for studying dense medical information and they lack a basic understanding of how learning, studying, and memory work. This is not their fault. This is a systemic cultural issue. We just do not teach smart students how to study, especially regarding the vast, dense information like they experience in medical school.

So when I was talking to her at the end of her second year (almost two years since she took The STATMed Class) as she was wrapping up classes and plotting her dedicated study for Step 1, I was so impressed—and proud—to listen to her explain what she was going to do, how she was going to do it, and why she was going to do all these things to prep for Step 1.

She had taken all the skills, tools, and rationales she learned in the class and built them into a system that she could use sustainably for the rest of her career.

Not only did we help her get over her initial hurdle—repeating her 1st year of med school—but we also set her up to be in control of her learning for the rest of her career. This is the mission of The STATMed Class, and Sophia embodies that goal. I’ll end this post by letting her speak for herself. Here’s what she had to say:

“My first semester of med school was a disaster. I failed 5 out of 6 exams! It felt hopeless. But I took the STATMed Class before I repeated the year, and it changed everything! The class helped me realize my studying was passive and gave me the tools I needed to study actively and actually retain the material I was learning. STATMed gave me the tools I needed and taught me how to use them step by step.

“After taking the STATMed Class, I then successfully passed my 1st year repeat; now, I’m at the end of my 2nd year and am now doing 10 points higher percentage-wise on average as a 2nd year with only a few weeks left before dedicated study for Step 1. I could not have done it without Ryan and The STATMed Program’s help and I feel much better going into my dedicated study period for Step 1 knowing that I have so many study techniques that will get me through.

“Words cannot even describe how grateful I am. Thank you so much!!!”

~Sophia, MS-2 (STATMed Class)