This presentation is intended for a small group of students (5-20) who will soon matriculate in medical school or a graduate program in one of the biomedical sciences. It is also appropriate for students who have recently begun such studies and seek assistance in dealing with the challenges of their new endeavors.

Hopefully-Helpful Insights for Students Entering Medical School and/or Biomedical Graduate Programs

I. The Bigger Picture: Why are you here and what do you expect to get out of this seminar? A. The value of the broader perspective. Trees, forest, and beyond.
B. Adult learners. YOU are in charge of your education.
C. Young professionals - engaged in life-long learning.
II. Who am I and why does it matter to you? A. My background, experience, perspectives.
B. The value of reading the preface to any book.
III. A Different Game A. The rules and goals have changed.
B. Implications of the fact that YOU are in charge.
IV. Common sense and other things your parents taught you (and you might teach a younger sibling). A. Just because it is obvious does not mean you know it and know how to use it.
B. Budgeting and balancing your time.
C. Getting enough sleep, taking care of yourself, etc.
D. Pacing and spacing your studying.
V. Some new ways of thinking about things? A. Metacognition - thinking about how YOU think.
B. KSA - Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. Learning the facts is nice but: 1. NO one can learn it all, especially given the new realities.
2. There is limited value in learning a lot if you are not able to use it.
3. In most situations the skills you acquire are more important than the facts you learn. And the attitudes (perspectives) you employ in applying the skills are even more important.
C. Words matter 1. Learn and use them with precision and don't let the new ones intimidate you.
2. Be sure you label things, including yourself, correctly.
D. Perspectives on tests. 1. They are only a part of the bigger picture and while, in the short term, they may be very important, in the long term, they are not as important as you might think.
2. Don't let the goal of passing tests distort your focus on the long term goal of learning KSA.
3. Tests as learning experiences. Analyze the results and try to understand why you missed a question. HINT: It is not always due to lack of knowledge.
4. Simulations - learning in a protected environment where it is OK to 'fail' (occasionally), so long as you learn from your 'failure'.
5. You must retain and use what you learn, long after you pass the tests.
6. The distinction between studying harder and studying smarter.
7. Sometimes YOU define what is important, with reference to YOUR own coordinate system.
E. Analysis and Diagnosis - some thoughts about problem solving.
F. The value of analogies - more than one way to skin a cat.
VI. When things do not go well. A. Probability is not just a math topic. Value of making realistic evaluations of the consequences of your 'failures'.
B. Do not be afraid to consider worst-case possibilities.
C. Recall the bigger picture. Always be prepared to step back and reconsider, sometimes from a different perspective.

Copyright, Educational Assistance, 2009

Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009