Aside from your clinical experience, as a medical student, you’ll also go through residency. While residency gives you real-world experience, you’re still a student. As such, managing your workload and staying on top of your studies are crucial. While traditional exams might happen less frequently, you should still expect them. Here are six study tools and tips to help make the process easier.
6 Study Tools and Tips for Residents
1. Work With a Study Group
According to an article from Washington University in St. Louis, more than 20 years of research suggests that studying in groups is more effective than studying alone. The interaction that takes place between you and your peers happens in such a way that you take your studying material and make it your own.
This allows you to better absorb and remember it.
2. Study for Short Bursts as Opposed to Longer Sessions
While the findings are scattered, as informED points out, we can only pay attention for so long. Some studies have said we can pay attention for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, but not everyone is in agreement.
Regardless, there does seem to be a general consensus that our attention spans have their limits — and they’re short.
As a resident, you can benefit from planning shorter and more frequent study sessions, as opposed to fewer, longer ones. For example, you might set aside a designated hour each day, as opposed to “catching up” with longer hours on the weekends.
3. Remove Smartphone Distractions With an App
It’s hard to resist your phone — we hear you. Texting and social media are incredibly tempting, and a quick message or scroll through Instagram can end up turning into an hour (or more) of your day easily wasted.
There’s no shame in needing a little extra help. These days, there are several apps that will discourage you from using your phone — or even lock you out completely. One example is Flipd.
4. Take Advantage of Your Best Learning Style
There are three general ways of learning. You can do so by:
- Listening (auditory).
- Seeing (visual).
- Doing (tactile).
Understanding what works most effectively for you can help you study smarter.
If you’re an auditory learner, try reading your notes and books out loud. If you attend a lecture, consider recording it and listening to it afterward. Podcasts might also be your friend.
For visual learners, write things down to help yourself remember them. Color-code your notes, highlight important passages in books and create study guides for yourself.
If you learn best by doing, creating mock scenarios and doing roleplay can help you retain your lessons better.
5. Experiment With Memory Aids
As a resident, you’re going to have to learn a lot, and quickly. Memory aids can help you keep track of everything.
For example, try setting your notes to a song. In other words, replace the lyrics with whatever information you need to remember.
Mnemonics are another common memory aid. For instance, you can take the first letter of every word in a sentence to form a new word, that helps you remember that information. Think “Roy G. Biv” to remember the colors of the rainbow.
A third trick is to associate certain information with a specific smell. Scents are incredibly powerful and can help us recall specific memories.
6. Set Clear, Attainable Goals
Plenty of research agrees that setting goals help you be more successful. In fact, an article in Inc. said that we lose around 30% of our capacity and performance potential when we don’t focus on goals.
On the flipside, a lot of people set goals that they never reach. Look at New Year’s resolutions. U.S. News says 80% of our resolutions fail.
How can you use goal-setting to help you succeed during residency?
The key is to set small, attainable goals — not huge, unrealistic ones. When you set goals you can actually reach, you give yourself more opportunities to experience little “wins,” which helps you stay motivated.
If you need help managing your residency interview or another part of your clinical experience fill out the form below to begin your new life adventure!