Breaking News
April 25, 2019 - Cardiometabolic Risk Better ID’d in Children Reclassified to Higher BP
April 25, 2019 - How the obesity epidemic is taking a toll on our bones and joints
April 25, 2019 - E-cigarettes contaminated with dangerous microbial toxins
April 25, 2019 - Researchers document specific characteristics of storefront tobacco advertisements
April 25, 2019 - Oncotype DX-guided treatment could reduce cost for breast cancer care, study suggests
April 25, 2019 - New review highlights how lifestyle affects our genes
April 25, 2019 - Study provides evidence that blood tests can detect Alzheimer’s risk
April 25, 2019 - Physicians turning to antibiotic alternatives for long-term acne treatment
April 25, 2019 - Preschool Is Prime Time to Teach Healthy Lifestyle Habits
April 25, 2019 - Study finds insidious and persistent discrimination among physician mothers
April 25, 2019 - Newly identified skin-gut communication helps illuminate link between food allergy and eczema
April 25, 2019 - Thiazide use linked with reduced risk of low energy fractures in people with Alzheimer’s
April 25, 2019 - Some women are biologically more resilient than others to PTSD
April 25, 2019 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Partnerships and Alliances
April 25, 2019 - Imaging method reveals long-lived patterns in cells of the eye
April 25, 2019 - Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The Abortion Wars Rage On
April 25, 2019 - Prolonged exposure therapy is more effective in treating veterans with PTSD, alcohol use disorder
April 24, 2019 - Our artificial cornea breakthrough could lead to self-assembling organs
April 24, 2019 - A Stanford black, female, gay surgery resident speaks out
April 24, 2019 - Donna Lynne on Extreme Sports, Lessons From the '60s, and Taking CUIMC to the Next Level
April 24, 2019 - Pain Clinics’ Doctors Needlessly Tested Hundreds Of Urine Samples, Court Records Show
April 24, 2019 - Researchers uncover potential clue to halt destruction of nerve cells in people with ALS
April 24, 2019 - Study uncovers reasons for poor mental health in bisexual people
April 24, 2019 - Screenings, interventions, and referrals can help adolescents overcome substance abuse
April 24, 2019 - Febrile seizures following vaccination are self-resolving and not dangerous
April 24, 2019 - Flow-UV inline UV-Visible spectrometer monitors dispersion in real time
April 24, 2019 - Rates of Marijuana Use in Cancer Patients on the Rise in U.S.
April 24, 2019 - Versatile drug may protect baby from hazards of intraamniotic infections
April 24, 2019 - Financial transparency may diminish trust in doctors, new study finds
April 24, 2019 - Calling all Riders: Velocity Extends Free Registration 
April 24, 2019 - The Homeless Are Dying In Record Numbers On The Streets Of L.A.
April 24, 2019 - Researchers use brain scans to provide better understanding of unconscious bias
April 24, 2019 - Blocking BRAF ubiquitination may be an effective treatment approach in melanoma
April 24, 2019 - Simple mobility test helps predict hospital readmission in elderly heart attack patients
April 24, 2019 - Novel fluorescence imaging system helps surgeons remove small ovarian tumors
April 24, 2019 - Uncovering the Structure of HIV Integrase to Inform Drug Discovery
April 24, 2019 - Medical Marijuana Use Rising Among Cancer Patients
April 24, 2019 - Artificial intelligence approach optimizes embryo selection for IVF
April 24, 2019 - Doctor or detective? Sleuthing mysteries in medical school
April 24, 2019 - CUIMC Community Gives Blood During Spring 2019 Columbia University Blood Drive
April 24, 2019 - Americans Overwhelmingly Want Federal Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills
April 24, 2019 - Making Laboratories More Efficient with the Most Modern LIMS on the Market
April 24, 2019 - Treating cancer patients with personalized, combination therapies improves outcomes
April 24, 2019 - Researchers engineer new molecules to help stop lung cancer
April 24, 2019 - Acupuncture can be a wonderful tool for preventing number of diseases
April 24, 2019 - Daily life disability before hip replacement may predict poor post-operative outcomes
April 24, 2019 - Study finds involuntary staying in housing estates to be a potential health risk
April 24, 2019 - Older kidney disease patients starting dialysis die at higher rates than previously thought
April 24, 2019 - Time-restricted eating shows promise for controlling blood glucose levels
April 24, 2019 - Ambiguous genitalia in newborns may be more common than previously thought
April 24, 2019 - Research provides important insight on the brain-body connection
April 24, 2019 - In 10 Years, Half Of Middle-Income Elders Won’t Be Able To Afford Housing, Medical Care
April 24, 2019 - Researchers study how E. coli clones have become major cause of drug-resistant infections
April 24, 2019 - Bacterial and fungal toxins found in popular electronic cigarettes
April 24, 2019 - Factors affecting absorption of ‘sunshine vitamin’ during spring/summer months
April 24, 2019 - Texting helps improve medication adherence, health outcomes for patients with schizophrenia
April 24, 2019 - Cochrane Review looks at different ways to use nicotine replacement therapies
April 24, 2019 - New review on relationship between COPD and Type 2 diabetes
April 24, 2019 - Brain areas linked to memory and emotion aid odor navigation in humans
April 24, 2019 - Brain stimulation reverses age-related memory loss
April 24, 2019 - Amid Opioid Prescriber Crackdown, Health Officials Reach Out To Pain Patients
April 24, 2019 - $4 million NIH award will help establish UCI Skin Biology Resource-based Center
April 24, 2019 - Cancer drugs reprogram genes in breast tumors to prevent endocrine resistance, finds study
April 24, 2019 - Combination-imaging technique provides new window into macaque brain connections
April 24, 2019 - Researchers identify new allergen responsible for allergy to durum wheat
April 24, 2019 - Researchers define role of rare, influential cells in the bone marrow
April 24, 2019 - DNA rearrangement may predict poor outcomes in multiple myeloma
April 24, 2019 - FDA Approves Skyrizi (risankizumab-rzaa) for Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis
April 24, 2019 - Combination therapy might be beneficial in schizophrenia
April 24, 2019 - Blood test can help match cancer patients to early phase clinical trials
April 24, 2019 - Women tend to underreport snoring and underestimate its loudness
April 24, 2019 - Comprehensive molecular test introduced for diagnosis of malaria caused by P. vivax parasites
April 24, 2019 - New range prediction approach increases accuracy, safety and tolerability of proton therapy
April 24, 2019 - Need for Sedation Up for Regular Cannabis Users
April 24, 2019 - Lack of access to antibiotics is a major global health challenge
April 24, 2019 - New study provides better understanding on safety of deworming programs
April 24, 2019 - EEG used to detect impact of maternal stress on neurodevelopment in 2-month-old infants
April 24, 2019 - FDA Approves First Generic Naloxone Nasal Spray Against Opioid Overdose
April 24, 2019 - A new way of finding compounds that prevent aging
April 24, 2019 - Mechanical training makes synthetic hydrogels perform more like muscle
Stumped by medical school? A Q&A with a learning specialist

Stumped by medical school? A Q&A with a learning specialist

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

A new academic year has begun, and another fresh-faced group of medical students are embarking on many years of training. To learn more about how they cope with the deluge of material and stress, I recently spoke with Lisa Medoff, PhD, a learning strategies specialist at Stanford Medicine. 

What are the most common fears of medical students?

I think the most common fear is thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, somebody made a mistake by letting me in here, I’m not good enough to be here.’ We call that the ‘impostor syndrome’ and really try to address it because nearly everyone feels that way at some point.

Also, often, medical students will have this feeling of ‘I have to memorize everything perfectly or else all my patients are going to die.’

But I reassure students that it’s not like you’re going to take some classes and then get stuck somewhere with no support, expected to practice medicine. You just have to trust the process in place.

What challenges do medical students face?

A lot of our students come in after having taken a few years off of school and suddenly they have to memorize a lot of information very quickly. It’s a really stressful adjustment and can be pretty overwhelming.

Then there’s Step 1, which is the first hurdle of the licensing exam after the second year. That exam used to be pretty much past/fail but now residencies are looking at it more. Students used to study for it during their dedicated two-month study period, but in the last few years we’ve seen that they’re worrying about it all of their second year.

There’s additional pressure that’s starting earlier and earlier. It’s almost like the equivalent of middle schoolers starting to be concerned about SATs.

What would you say is the hardest part of medical school?

I think if you asked every student you’d get a different answer, but from the perspective of the students that I work with is this: In undergrad, you could always walk into a test and know you are 100 percent prepared. That might have required an all-nighter and lots of memorization. But you could pretty confidently walk in and say, I know everything there is to know.

But in medical school, there’s just so much information. And so I think that feeling of uncertainty, no matter how much hard work and time you put in.

Later, students may want to take advantage of unique opportunities for learning — that’s why they came to Stanford, after all. There are so many amazing things that we require or recommend, like doing research or taking elective classes or shadowing or getting involved in student groups or doing things on main campus.

So there’s a constant struggle to balance ‘What am I missing out on?’ with ‘Am I doing too much and not having enough time for classes/exams/boards?’

Are there any particular traits that the most successful students share?

I don’t know that there are. Sometimes I’ll have a student come one hour and talk about their roommate or their study partner and say, ‘Boy, that person just doesn’t spend very much time studying. They can read something once and memorize it or they just go to lecture and pay attention and it’s in their brain. I have to spend all these hours studying.’

And then the next hour, their roommate or study partner will come in and say, ‘Gosh, it’s so easy for me to pick up and memorize stuff, but I don’t have the clinical skills or the ability to connect like that other person does.’

Of course, everything I do is confidential but I always want to say, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish you all would share so you could know that everyone struggles!’

And so I encourage that when somebody is struggling to be more vocal about it and say, ‘I’m struggling with this. Can anybody help me?’

Can people with learning difficulties or challenges go to medical school?

Absolutely. We have had students with diagnoses of different learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADHD, anxiety, chronic illnesses or physical disability, anything that might require accommodations and we make sure they get the accommodations they need.

I am a big believer that just about anybody can do anything they want. Sometimes it might take them longer or sometimes it might require extra support, but if you want something and you’re willing to work for it, I think you can do it.

Photo by Rod Searcey

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles