By far my weakest competency! I would often let the anxiety associated with it deter me from doing what needed to be done. When it came time for renal block, we learned all the physio in one week and I had to put in extra time to make sure I understood what was going on. I even spent time studying the physio when I should have been studying for my pathology exam. My major resources for physiology are BRS Physiology, First Aid for Organ Systems, and to a lesser extent Physiology by Costanzo.
The major factor here was doing practice questions. I used Pre-Test Physiology, Guyton-Hall Physiology, and UWorld (when it was time to study for the shelf exam).
Pathoma and First Aid for Organ Systems were most likely the reason my pathology competency was one of my highest. Pathoma is a subscription based learning service that comes with a thin textbook and video lectures done by Dr. Suttar. The thing with path is that it is mainly buzzwords so you have to find a way to review everything a number of times so that you automatically think IgA nephropathy if a patient had an upper respiratory infection 2 days ago and RBC casts in their urine (I’m only using this as an example because renal is semi fresh in my mind lol).
SketchyPath: I only started using the path portion of SketchyMedical towards the end of the year and I think it was a great resource in conjunction with Pathoma because I love have a visual memory hook for all the little details.
If you have been following my blog since the beginning then you already know about my love for SketchyMicro. Check out my previous post for the full details on how I used it to study during the mirco block.
I’m going to be very honest when I say that immuno is probably one of my weakest subjects. During this block- which was in our foundations portion of first year- I mainly relied on lecture slides. I spent some time reading How the Immune System Works which gave me some of the details that I may not have understood fro lecture. I would also watch my Armando’s videos on YouTube to between visualize what was going on. I know I’m going to have to really spend time reviewing it when my dedicated study period begins for Step 1.
Video resources I used were Boards and Beyond and Physeo which are both awesome board review videos that can help solidify concepts you may not have understood in lecture. Give Osmosis a try if you prefer a cartoon type visual. They have more anatomy, embryology, and physiology videos than just the pathology videos you get for free on YouTube. Osmosis even has flashcards and a study schedule available.
First Aid (FA) is basically the gold standard resource for first and second year med students. I did not start actively using it and annotating until the end of foundations (around December) and I think that’s okay because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I study and just used it as a reference textbook. I started heavily using it during our second system block which was cardiovascular (literally my worst hated and feared subject). Now that I have a better idea of how to use and annotate FA in a way that works for me, I'm going to get the 2018 version and go through it again during second year and dedicated. I will be doing a post on how I study for Step 1 most likely after I take the test next April/May.
ANKI: I often used decks made by my classmates, made my own for topics that I kept forgetting, and used pre-made decks such as ZANKI for more focused STEP 1 information.
Firecracker: I wish I would have started using it consistently in the beginning of the year when a fourth year suggested it me, but I was young and naïve back in September! Firecracker has companion cards for First Aid, Pathoma, and SketchyMirco so it’s great way to solidify information and quiz yourself, so that you are actively memorizing what you have just read.
Now onto how I studied on a day to day basis.
I played around with going to lecture and podcasting from home or the library so I guess I’m 50/50 on that depending on the lecturer and the subject matter. If I knew I was going to be frustrated by the way a certain lecturer taught, I would spend those 3 hours going through outside resources, then podcast later on. If I didn’t mind the lecturer, I went to class. The main reason I preferred going to class was that it forced me to have more structure: I knew I would be done with lecture by 12pm and could go on with my day. Often with podcasting I would take too long pausing or getting distracted by other things like my phone. On a good day, if I have already done the outside resources I could get through a lecture in half the time on 1.5 or 2x speed and then actually review. Most days weren’t that flawless especially if I had extracurricular activities or other mandatory courses like Patient Centered Medicine (PCM). There are benefits to both methods, so again figure out what works for you.
I would always try to do some sort of review and ideally it would be Firecracker or ANKI cards for whatever the topics were for that day. I would only do cards for the things I have reviewed rather than stressing myself out over 100 cards that I have never seen before. Then after front-loading on information using the resources listed above, I would start incorporating practice questions. The thing that most students do wrong is waiting until we feel “ready” to start doing practice questions. It took me months to realize (and after hearing from second years) that you need to start doing questions even when you don’t feel ready. Yes, you will get most of them wrong, but you will learn from them! Get them wrong and then tell yourself you will never get that type of question wrong again, try to understand the concept fully and why you got it wrong. READ THE ANSWER CHOICES CAREFULLY. Questions are your best teachers and indicators of whether you understand the material.
Practice, review, and ask your friends questions. I pretty much a self-studier because I often take a long time to process things and engrain them to memory, but I like to occasionally meet up with 1 or 2 other people and go over the tricky concepts and it really helps sometimes to talk things out with other people.
So, I know I listed a lot of resources above and it may seem overwhelming. My suggestion is to pick a few for one block and see how you like it. If it doesn't work for you try something else. Nothing here is set in stone for me and I am going to tweak things during second year. It's all about being flexible and doing what works for you. I will be solidifying my study methods over the next few months and will have an updated study routine post for you guys when I figure it out. If you have any questions about any of the resources or you try something here and it works for you let me know! Thanks for reading!