How to Enhance Your Medical Education
November 4, 2016
When preparing to become a physician, most think of conventional medical education done through textbooks, lectures, and exams. But medical students soon realize that a profession requiring so much spontaneity and diversity can only be truly mastered through a hands-on, experiential approach to learning.
While the classroom undoubtedly sets the foundation for a medical student’s knowledge, the biggest strides often come through actual performance, active learning, and being a client yourself. Here are a few ways to enhance your medical education:
Shift from practice to performance
When trying to master any skill or profession, a common euphemism is that “practice makes perfect.” But there comes a time in your medical education where all the knowledge and theoretical application in the world won’t make you a better physician. In other words, the key to perfection is not practice, but real-life performance.
In the classroom or clinical setting, you are essentially rehearsing within a controlled environment. You don’t have the unpredictability of being in the moment—from client temperaments and team responsibilities to your own nerves. But the more varied the circumstances you find yourself in become, the more confident and competent you will perform in any given situation. And the more well-rounded and accomplished physician you will be.
Choose active studying over passive studying
You can even utilize a more active approach when it comes to studying. Many students think the only way to digest loads of information is to sit on the couch or spend hours at the library. But taking a more interactive, creative learning approach can help you digest larger chunks of information at a time.
In other words, you want to study in a way that allows you to interact with the material. For example, try drawing your own anatomical pictorial diagrams and creating your own biochemistry problems. This approach will not only reinforce the material using several different senses, it will also help you get inside the heads of your professors and USMLE test-writers.
Get a taste of your own medicine
Often, we try to advise our patients based on what we’ve heard from others or learned in medical school. But it isn’t until we experience things from their perspective that we become true experts. Of course, this doesn’t mean you go out and break your leg so you can better empathize with an injured client. But it does mean you should pay close attention to what mannerisms and treatment methods are most effective any time you are the client receiving care.
Medical student at Chicago Medical School, Sung Woo Koh, recently learned this lesson firsthand when he had to get a lidocaine injection in his foot. Now he is better able to personally warn his clients that while this medicine stings, it will significantly reduce discomfort from the biopsy. As he calls it, he got a taste of his own medicine: “There’s a lot I can only learn when I stop being the doctor and become the patient.”
Bring your medical education to life outside the classroom with our free Mastering Medicine Event Series.