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7 Tips to Stay Mentally Sharp in Medical School

December 12, 2018
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  With the critical nature and sheer volume of information students learn in medical school, not to mention the pressure of being in medical school, it is imperative that you develop a set of tools to help you stay on top of your studies and at the top of your game.  

1. Identify how you best retain information.

Are you a visual or auditory learner? Play to your strengths and you will maximize your time and effort.
If you’re a visual learner, try flash cards, diagrams or photos to help you remember information.
If you’re an auditory learner, minimize distractions like cell phones or laptops during lectures. Take notes the old- fashioned way, or even record the lectures to go back to later. You can even record important information yourself (like auditory flashcards) to play back when studying.

2. Go beyond the books.

You can spend hours memorizing textbooks and learning the “what”, but you also need to learn the “why” and “how.” Read journal articles or medical blogs about topics of interest to you. It will help bring together all of the facts and help you learn how to apply them. It’s great to have book smarts, but also having the “street smarts” will be the key to helping you succeed.

3. Have a system.

Organization is key. You can’t memorize every word from every textbook and every lecture, so you must be strategic with your time. When studying any topic, first ask yourself, “What’s most important here? What’s the big picture?” Limit this to 4-5 takeaways. Then organize the information in easily digestible sections. This will help you better memorize and will create an organized structure for the information.

4. Don’t cram.

This goes back to the “what” vs. “why” technique. Cramming helps you memorize words, but not understand the concept. Effective medical knowledge needs to be applied so you must understand the reason behind it. Understanding the “why” will make the “what” stick around in your brain far beyond test day.

5. Exercise.

Studies show that regular exercise can improve memory recall, cognitive ability and also make you feel better. So, hitting the gym or taking a walk, just might be the key to staying sharp.

6. Eat Right.

You are what you eat, so be mindful of what you consume and how it affects your brain. Eating a diet high in vegetables and more wholesome ingredients can help combat brain fog. And eating before an exam can give you the stamina you need to stay alert and focused. Coincidentally, Anguilla and Saint Vincent are rich in seafood, tomatoes, peppers, limes and other citrus fruits, so the food to fuel your brain is just outside your front door.

7. Sleep.

Turns out pulling an all-nighter may have the opposite effect that you intended. Sleep is when most of our memory consolidation process occurs so without enough sleep, we will struggle to remember things we've learned.   Practice these 7 tips and you’ll soon be on your way to a sharper mind and more effective method of studying in medical school. For more information on Saint James School of Medicine, please call 800-542-1553.
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