Besides caffeine, there are three study aids that got me through medical school. These resources speed up the memorization process, enhance your learning for long-term retention, and help you understand the required mountain of material you learn during the first two years of med school. They were my favorite resources to use during the basic science courses and while I studied for step one. The more I found myself using them the more useful they became. As I’ve written about before, don’t half ass anything– and that includes your study aids. So try these out, see if they help you, and then commit to using them. Without further ado, here are my three favorite med school study tools…you know, besides note cards of course:
First Aid for the USMLE Step One
This is every medical student’s bible. If you ask a med student studying for step one, ‘if your house was on fire and you were only allowed to retrieve one item’, their First Aid book would be the answer. If you are about to start med school just go ahead and buy it. This book provides a backbone outline of your medical education and its up to you to fill in the details. You can almost always tell the first semester students apart from the fourth semesters based on how much white space is left on the pages of their First Aid book. Just remember, post-it notes are your friends, don’t use ink that will run, highlight in moderation, write small but legibly, and always double-check to see if the information you are about to scribble in your book isn’t already there.
Imagine that instead of forcing yourself to memorize every bug, drug, syndrome, system, and tumor that you could just watch cartoons and all the information would just magically diffuse into your consciousness. Picmonic is as close at it comes. Instead of just listing information and letting you figure out how to inject the information into your brain, Picmonic provides you with tons of notecard sized cartoon illustrations that tell unique and memorable stories. Each cartoon represents vital information about the subject at hand. With pathognomonic pictures and rhyming raps about almost everything that med students need to memorize and differentiate between, Picmonic makes memorizing the minutia of med school both easy and fun. I seriously would not have made it through med school without it.
The only thing worse than not being able to pronounce the diseases you are studying is not being able to understand your professor teaching you. Whether your professor has a thick accent or is just a terrible teacher, Pathoma is the answer to your troubles. It’s the gold standard when it comes to studying pathology. The textbook has clear illustrations and descriptions of every disease process you learn about in the first two years of medical school and the accompanying videos explain the pathophysiology in a clear and concise manner. I honestly don’t know a single med friend of mine who doesn’t use it.