3 Common Study Problems Med 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

How STATMed Learning helped one student overcome a ‘disastrous’ first semester of med school

At STATMed Learning, we love to talk about our students’ successes. Struggling with study problems in med school can be scary, overwhelming and demoralizing. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your med school career. When we first worked with Sophia, a former STATMed Study Skills Class student, she had just failed her first year of med school. And it was the first time she had failed anything. 

To say she was upset would be an understatement. But more than that, she was 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.

STATMed Study Skills Class

Her main issues were:

1.    A Lack of Framework: She focused on learning details first (that is what she was tested on, after all) and did not find 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 — a strategy that feels productive and requires time and effort, but it does not truly build understanding. We replaced this strategy 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 produce 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, and this is a systemic cultural issue. We do not teach smart students how to study, especially regarding the vast, dense information they experience in medical school.

Don’t miss Mike’s success story in Dismissed from Med School: One Student’s Rebound from Failure to Super S

So when I was caught up with 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 first 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, and 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)

Do you struggle with these study problems? The STATMed Study Skills Class can help. Registration is open for multiple classes right now. Learn more and apply today!

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