If you’ve taken the brave decision in your career to become a doctor, first of all well done. It is a difficult decision to make and is one of the most difficult jobs in the entire world. It will involve years of study and a ton of work experience, but when you are finally qualified and are able to help save people’s lives each day, it will all be worth it.
If you are just starting out and need some advice, look no further.
You will never retain information by simply memorizing every page of your notes. Learning is about understanding the concepts fully and being able to relay them as part of your normal conversation. You need to be able to know why things are how they are and how. It will take you time to grasp certain concepts when you are studying to become a doctor; but make sure that you always take the time to fully understand the things you are being taught.
Stop procrastinating with your mobile phone and stay away from your email as you study. Medicine is hard enough to learn by itself and even more difficult when you let your mind wander. Make sure you are always writing down what you hear, because this can help you to retain the information much better than trusting your brain to remember what was said. Make sure you pay attention to every second and if you don’t understand something, ask.
Use old tests
One of the most helpful tools you can use during your degree is copies of old exams. You can practice completing the exam yourself within a time limit, and then once you have finished you can go over the answers and see where you went wrong this is a brilliant way to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie and will enable you to go over the topics you don’t fully understand again. You can even consult your teacher and ask them for advice.
Don’t just stick to the textbooks which are given to your at the beginning of the year. To truly immerse yourself in this world you need to look at medical magazines, journals and even learn about the history of medicine. The subject will seem much easier to learn if you have a general interest and know about how we got to where we are today. You may find yourself fascinated with stories of trephining in caveman times and the plague in medieval times. Try to learn more than just the subject.
Tools of the trade
Always make sure you have a pen and notepad on you at all times as you study to be a doctor. The learning never stops and you may need to jot something down. Take the time to learn about the different equipment used in medicine and what it’s for. For example, the stethoscope for listening to a patient’s heartbeat, that small pocket watch to check for heart rate, and try and learn why equipment is made the way it is. For example, most of the time in medicine, small wires will be coated in PTFE because it provides a thin coating which allows for a precise placement in the body, plus, PTFE non-stick coating is inert which means it will not react with anything inside the body. It is incredibly important for you to learn just as much about the equipment you use as the patients you use them on.
[Editor’s note: This is a partnership produced post.]