One of the biggest challenges of learning medicine is the sheer amount of information students are expected to process and understand. By the time most students take the USMLE Step 1 exam, they will have attempted to memorize the contents of huge books like First Aid—an 800-page behemoth of high-yield pathology—as well as endless information from their course slides and other lecture notes.
We all want to train to become the best clinicians we can be, but education in the health professions is often like drinking from a firehose. Worse yet, most of us haven’t learned how to learn – how to effectively synthesize and retain the knowledge for the long term, both to do well on board exams and to have that knowledge available to inform our clinical practice.When we came into medical school, one of the most common pieces of advice we’d get from upperclassmen was “don’t worry about remembering this; you’ll forget it all by rotations and you’ll have to relearn it anyway.” What a depressing thought – but it’s true! By the time they arrive in medical school, most students have forgotten the majority of what they learned in college courses. Students routinely need to re-learn massive amounts of forgotten information before taking their board exams, and residents eventually forget much of what they learned in medical school outside their specialty. All this translates into vast amounts of time wasted.