I was officially accepted into medical school and since then have been alternating between being unconditionally happy and insanely terrified of what the next four years have in store. Thus, I asked for this book for my birthday and, because my mother loves me and knows how anxious I can get, she dutifully shipped it out for my 22nd (Side note – she did call me a nerd for this being on the top of my birthday gift wish list).
This book is designed to read prior to medical school to help accepted students feel more prepared for the upcoming years. I will be reviewing it as one of those students who has not yet entered school so keep that in mind – a current medical student may have differing opinions.
The first four chapters of this book are all about studying. Topics include the difference between conceptual learning and memorizing, ensuring study efficiency, procrastination, avoiding study anxiety, and the idea of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns in regards to studying means that as your test grade gets closer to 100 percent, the points are harder to gain. I found these chapters incredibly useful – and not just for the future! Although medical school examples are utilized to explain each concept, I honestly believe any college student could benefit from the first half of the book and the approach it provides towards studying and class preparation.
For example, the book explores how to make studying the most efficient. This includes not cramming for a test which can be avoided by not procrastinating. It also means identifying what the author calls ‘high-yield material’ or material that will be have more test questions than minute details. This is what your studying should be focused on.
One of my favorite concepts from the first half of the book was the idea that “all study hours are not equal.” Often times, people compare how many hours they studied on a test to their classmates, but the sheer amount of time is not a great indicator of the quality of studying. For example, I could study for six hours straight from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am versus my friend who studied for three hours from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. My friend’s studying was probably better because she was more well rested, more focused, and was not burnt out by hour five.
The second half of the book explores the 3rd and 4th year of medical school which include clerkships, rotations, and applying for residency. Stories in this section were not as helpful because one’s experiences is so specific to what school they attend. However, the author included specific questions to ask and who to ask them to so that you may feel more prepared for your transition to 3rd year.
At the start of each chapter, there were little short stories from actual medical students lives which were humorous, honest, and provided great insight into what it is like to be a medical student. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The author had a very casual tone and was reassuring. He explained his reasoning with examples, hypotheticals, and his own experiences.
This book gave me hope that I can actually have a life in medical school so fingers crossed! 🙂