The STATMed Class: Frequently Asked Questions Part 1

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We dig into 5 of the top questions we get asked about the STATMed Class

Whether this is the first time you’ve hear of the STATMed Class, or you’ve checked out our blog, videos or podcast, chances are you may have some questions about who we are, what we do, and how, exactly, we’re different from what you’ve tried before. 

In this video, we dig into the top five questions we get asked about the STATMed Class. We explore why students may choose to take the Class, who can benefit the most and we even explain the origin of our name. 

We also dig into other frequently asked questions like:

  1. Who takes the Class?
  2. What is taught in the Class?
  3. How is the Class taught?
  4. How is the Class set up?
  5. How do students develop their skills after the Class? 

Interested in learning more about the STATMed Study Skills Class.? We’d love to talk to you! Schedule an interview to learn more about the Class. 

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This is part one of frequently asked questions about the STATMed class. 

Number one, who takes the STATMed class? 

Good question, this class is primarily designed for medical students. This can range from entering med students to medical students in the classroom or didactic learning years. They might be rising or they might be repeating. 

This can also include students prepping for boards or who are in rotations and prepping for shelf exams. The class is also open to students in related fields such as veterinarians, PAs, PharmDs, et cetera, any of these medical programs that make you drink from the fire hose. And sometimes we even have residents or practicing physicians take the class if they have the time and it fits their needs. 

The key is that they’re all looking for better ways to study, maximize their time, and take board-style exams. That’s what’s STAT stands for, study, timing, and testing, all through the fields of medicine and the fields of how we learn. That’s STATMed learning. 

So a given class will consist of a variety of students in a variety of different positions and it works because they’re all seeking the same solutions to the same problems. I recently had a class, for example, of eight students and it looked like this. I had two repeating first year med students in MD programs. I had one repeating second year student in a DO program and one PA student restarting at a new PA program after sort of crashing and burning at another PA program. They’re all taking the class so that when they go back to their schools, back to their programs, they want to expect different results, one of the best reasons to take the class. 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Having tasted the bitter fruit of med school and failing, they know what it’s like, making them model students to take the class because they are already scarred and scared and beaten up and hungry to learn new skills and they know the arena they’re returning to. Any repeating student is a great candidate for the class. Okay, I also had one rising second year DO medical student in like a PBL program. She made it through her first year but was like, oh my gosh, that was horrible. So she found us and did the class on a break between semesters. I mean that’s a great move and we’re seeing more and more people do the class proactively like she was. 

You can’t be enrolled in a STATMed class and be currently taking med school classes at the same time. That’s like trying to change a tire on a moving car, so we don’t do that. You do the class on a break. 

Then, I had three students in the class who were prepping for boards in the same group. One of them was taking the class to prep for her USMLE Step 1. She hadn’t taken it yet but she got through the didactics and realized she just was overly familiar with the stuff but didn’t know what she knew and what she didn’t know. She needed to organize a code, store everything better, so the class was a good fit for her. One was a foreign medical graduate who was studying independently for her USMLE Step 2. And then, the last one was a veterinarian studying for her NAVLE and the NAVLE’s like the big national boards that every vet has to pass in order to go practice. 

So all three of them, they all wanted tools so they could get the most bang for their buck every time they sat down to study, to become masters of their own studying ranging from workflow to productivity, to figuring out where the holes are in their knowledge, like the missing details and how to fix those holes. They all said something along the lines of this when I was talking to them before the class, they said, “It feels like every day, I’m breaking my back working so hard to fill up a bucket of water, you know? But at the end of the day, I come back to that bucket. And a few days later, a few weeks later, whatever, I see that there’s a leak and all the waters drained out.”

It’s the metaphor, right? We resolve this by teaching the array of tools that we teach in the STATMed class. So that leads us to number two, what is taught in this STATMed class? The class is taught using a very specific scope and sequence. We teach each skill in isolation, contextualizing each skill, you know, with med school and boards-related content. So the STATMed class is made up of three main aspects, study skills, time management tools, and test-taking strategies. So we can look at these and they have specific skill sets taught under each one. Under study skills, we have our primary study methods and we sort of how we apply those study methods in the class. Time management has an array of tools and concepts. And then, test taking sort of outlines our blueprint. So within this framework, we can look at our core study methods which are frameworking, dynamic reading and marking, retrieval practice, and then our augmented methods for our maps, memory palaces and integrated notes. 

I think everyone has to learn and use our core methods, but the augmented methods, you never know who those are gonna work for. So you have to come into the class with an open mind, learn each and every one of these skills to the best of your ability because you don’t know which ones are gonna be the money maker for you, a given student. We know students are bad predictors of what works, so the way we teach is we teach each skill in isolation first and then we start applying them together. You know, we adapt the skills for boards-based learning because we start teaching these things, sort of looking through the filter of lecture-based learning that upscales to things like problem-based learning, team-based learning, and then over to boards and independent study. We do two simulated study projects where we’re fully putting all the skills together once students have a good idea of how they work individually. And then, we make this sort sort of capstone which is one of their final projects and that’s sort of where they map out their old way of studying versus the new way. This is something they use to present to us, to present to their peers to be sort of a metacognitive activity to make sure that they’re not regressing, to make sure they understand how the pieces fit together, because each student’s utilization of these skills is gonna be customized for their unique needs. 

Then, we have our time management stuff with the tools. We teach three weekly management tools. Then, we have two workflow managers where we’re doing sort of our micromanager and our macro manager. We have our Post-STATMed Study Plan where we’re helping students make a plan so that they can continue to learn the skills once they leave the class. And then, we just have some concepts too that I think are important for that overall management umbrella. And then, we have our test-taking blueprint where we lay out our process, we identify patterns and solutions, and then how to utilize the method. Then if people want more on this or they need more on this, that’s where they tie over and they do our STATMed test-taking boards workshop. 

So this connects to number three. How is the class taught? Our class sizes are small and personal. STATMed is small, just me and David and we’re working on getting two more added to our teaching team, but right now, it’s just me and David. 

We are small and we know every one of our students. We only allow up to 12 students in our live online class format which is the main way we teach the classes. Most classes are between six and 10 students. We like it small. It’s like we’re all sitting around a round table together talking and interacting. We mainly use a four-step

 process that goes like this as we teach each skill in isolation, especially in those first few days. We start with step one, dissemination and instruction, where we teach each skill. So yes, we have to lay it all out lecture style, illustrating the process, giving the rationales, illustrating pitfalls and showing the process. This might happen live in class or it might happen via a pre-recorded on-demand video. We then spend time talking about it in context and how it applies to each student and their challenges. These are great round table conversations. Then, we go to step two, guided practice, and this is where we workshop the skill and roll our sleeves up and actually apply it to a short exercise and receive immediate feedback. This greatly accelerates everyone’s skill acquisition and illustrates that, hey, it’s okay to make mistakes and not do every new thing we do perfectly. This is an essential mindset we preach and model and reinforce for our students. Hard to believe, our med students don’t like to make mistakes. Then, we go to step three, independent practice, which is a fancy word for homework. We always provide a homework option that will accelerate your learning at this step. 

If someone wants to do something on their own, we can always discuss this but the key is getting this homework done even if you struggle and wipe out because this homework experience will feed directly into step four, analysis and feedback. This is where we unpack the homework and model best practices, answer questions that individuals have, and give feedback. This is where the learning happens. This is where the aha moments occur but only if the other hoops have been jumped through. This is where the students really benefit from their hard work and from tapping into our brain time and expertise. 

By the time we get to day four, day five, we start integrating the skills together that we’re teaching, seeing how they connect in a lecture-based learning environment, then upgrading to independent learning, and boards-based studying but it all comes down to these individual foundations first and that’s part of our plan and part of our scope and sequence. Number four asks how is the class set up? Each class spans about 10 days. 

Here is a sample schedule. Keep in mind each class has its own unique schedule though. We offer them at specific points in the year like over the December semester break and ranging from late spring through late summer but we often run them at other times of the year too, and sometimes they fill up before we even post them. 

So it’s best to always ask us and let us know if you’re interested because that’s what other people are doing. The class operates in what I would call or what I would consider four modalities. First one is our live class sessions. That’s the main modality where we spend the most of our time. You can see that in the schedule. This is where we’re all face-to-face online, cameras on like we’re sitting around that table. 

I know everyone has Zoom fatigue but this meeting format is very different, very interactive, very engaged, and it’s a great way to learn. We disseminate, we go over homework, we give feedback, we indulge in tangents, and otherwise share what I call our brain time with our students in these group learning sessions but we are always marching forward, following our very specific scope and sequence at all times. 

Second modality’s on-demand videos and these are great! We are creating more and more of these, sort of flipping the classroom. Students watch these lectures before coming into class, and then we unpack them, really digging into details, and I think they can be just a lot of fun because it fast forwards us to the meat of the discussion as it relates to the students. It’s also nice since they can re-watch the videos if they want. We don’t record the live sessions since I think confidentiality’s important and many of our students are sharing some raw, painful experiences that led them to take the class, so we don’t need to have that recorded. 

The third modality is homework. As I mentioned earlier, students do homework outside of those scheduled meeting times, that you saw on the schedule. This can take an hour a night, maybe up to three hours a night, depends. One of the secret spices that makes the STATMed class hum along is how carefully I’ve selected and curated our homework assignments over the last 15 years. 

These exercises will tie directly into the skills that we’re working on that day and they’re gonna accelerate new student’s acquisition of the skills, which is the name of the game here. It’s always authentic med school or boards-based content and the work is not too ambitious or too sprawling, so that we can ensure students can actually get it done. 

Can students pick their own homework? I mean, yeah, sometimes, or some students do the assigned work, and then they turn around, and they apply it to their own stuff. The key is getting it done, and that you wrestle with that experience, and that you allow yourself to make mistakes and maybe not do it right, so that the discussion the next day is fruitful and beneficial. We can always discuss this with each individual student based on their individual situation. The fourth modality is our one-on-one meetings. We schedule two of these, one around the midpoint of the class, and then the other at the end, the exit meeting, at the end of class where you have a lot of stuff to present and vet to your STATMed class instructor. 

We can also always add additional meeting times as needed as part of the class, either after class that day or later the day in the evening. Feedback is a key part of the class and getting to know our students is part of the structure. 

Number five is how do students continue to develop the skills they learned in the class after the class ends? This is something we are very concerned about because we’re only as good as our students are successful. Are we afraid of students having a false sense of security with these skills after just a few days in the class? Relatively speaking, yes. Are we afraid of skill regression, meaning they subconsciously start rounding down their new skills and revert back to old habits? Of course, are we afraid of the silent killer of skill drift where the skills deviate and mutate and become something else less effective? Definitely, so how do we offset this? 

Part of the class involves building what we call the PSSP, the Post-STATMed Study Plan. Now, I’m not a big study plan guy in some regards but this is an essential part of the class because this maps out how they are going to practice the skills after they leave the class. We see skill acquisition happening in three phases. Phase one is in the class where they are acquiring the skills. But if they don’t repeatedly practice these skills even more than we can do in the class, none of us can be confident they will unlock their success. So we make a plan for this. 

This is what the Post-STATMed Study Plan’s for. That leads to phase two, skill development. This is where this must happen. Then, there is the promise land phase three, skill mastery. This usually can’t happen until they’re back in the next year of schools since you can’t simulate the speed volume density equation or they’re in independent study but the better they do with phase two, the better off they’re going to be when they get to phase three. The key is having a plan for phase two and that’s what our students make with their PSSPs. Think of this as a transition window between the end of class and either returning to school or entering full board study mode. It might last a few weeks. 

One way we help them unlock the skill development phase is by targeting this thing we call the magic dozen, which is neither magic nor scientific, but it means you wanna complete each skill a dozen times. Each time you complete the skill, it’s like you get a game token. And once you get enough game token, say a dozen, you power up, you level up to the next level. This is all possible on their own, in part because we lean so heavily on retrieval practice and we operationalize this in all of our skills, so they’re always getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t. This is one of the secret skills that makes this all work like a self-propelling engine. I mean, we’re also tapping into their natural intellects and drives to get better at all these. That’s part of what’s so great about working with our med students over the span of time within the structure of the class at also such a small ratio. So in my experience, when students cut corners on phase one or phase two, that’s when they get in trouble and can’t actualize in phase three. One of the great things about the class is that I’m always redesigning it like a madman because I keep collecting feedback from my former students and take their insights and build them into the newest iteration of the class. That’s how we know this is such an important aspect for success after the class. So those are five of the top frequently asked questions we have about the STATMed class. There’s more to come. Thanks for watching.