Improve Studying with a ¨Winner´s Brain¨

I stumbled across this article from Harvard Medical School called ¨Cultivating a ´Winner´s Brain´¨ which has several applications for pre med students.

When procrastination is a problem, the issue may be that the task at hand seems too big to accomplish. The authors suggest that people first envision or “map” the multiple steps necessary for reaching an ultimate goal, and then concentrate on achieving each step.

How many people have had trouble starting a large task? The key is breaking the project down into steps. Whether it´s a huge lab report or studying for a final, this is how to tackle it.

Multitasking — can take a toll on the brain. In a study of 14 participants who underwent fMRI, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that when people try to juggle two tasks at once, a bottleneck occurs in information processing. The posterior lateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is involved in decision making, delayed one task until the other was complete.

This backs up Study Hacks´ idea of hard focus.

The article also notes that sleep, nutrition and exercise are all vital to keeping your brain healthy. Do all of these things! You will be happier, plus you´ll do better in college!

Pre Med Resources

495524570_415c91b283_mThis is the best list of relevant websites, articles and blogs regarding the pre med journey that you will find on the internet. Bookmark this. I’ll be updating the list as I find more useful info.

Pre Med Basics

MCAT Links

Perhaps the most dreaded part of the pre med journey. Be not afraid.

Medical School Application

Best Books for Pre Meds

These are books that I have either read and used or heard great things about.

Pre Med and Med Student Blogs

Pre Med Forums


Health Care Reform Primer for Pre Med Students

‘”I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

– President Obama in his address to congress last night

Health care reform is dominating the American public discourse currently, and with good reason. As future physicians, you have a responsibility to understand these issues. It will affect how you practice medicine in the future.

But where to start? A couple months back, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of unraveling this whole debate. It seemed far too complex for me to understand. My lack of understanding led me to fear taking a position.

That changed several weeks ago when I started to do a little research. What I found is that the issue is not as hard to comprehend as I originally thought. What I’ve prepared here is a series of articles that answer the most common questions regarding the health care system and efforts to reform it.

  • First check out this article titled “Your Handy Health Care Cheat Sheet” over at the Washington Post. ,
    • Alec MacGills says“ What follows is an attempt to boil the health-care debate down to 1,000 words — a summary you can take to the beach or on the plane or, if you already know it all, send to your Aunt Millie. Love the proposals or hate them, people can try to make sense of them. There is no excuse!”
  • A lot of misinformation is being spread about health care reform. You may have received a chain email with comments regarding “A few highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill.” Check out Factcheck.org’s article regarding the false claims in the email.
    • “Our inbox has been overrun with messages asking us to weigh in on a mammoth list of claims about the House health care bill. The chain e-mail purports to give "a few highlights" from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate.”
  • The Wall Street Journal opinion section has a good article outlining some alternatives to the reforms proposed. "”How to Insure Every American"
    • “We must stop punishing Americans who buy their own plan by forcing them to purchase their care with after-tax dollars, making it at least one-third more expensive than employer-provided care. Individuals should be able to take their employer’s plan, or turn it down and select insurance of their own choosing without any tax penalty.”
  • For the official government site regarding reform, check out healthreform.gov. In particular read the Reports section. Lots to read, but lots of good info as well.

 

  • I highly recommend watching or reading President’ Obama’s speech last night. Watch the video here or read the full text. Just don’t read the youtube comments. Ugh.
    • “You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom; and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.”

Yes, health care in this country is complex. But with a little effort you can start to understand it. Pre meds have the added motivation knowing that questions regarding reform are going to be asked in a medical school interview. But if that’s the only reason you want to learn about health care reform,  you should question why you’re going into medicine in the first place.

Winter Term Sucks: Here Are 4 Tips to Make it Better

Winter TermIt’s cold. It’s dark. You have a frustrating group lab project hanging over your head. You hate life right now…it’s winter term.

Trust me, I can relate. While I was in school, this was my least favorite time of year. The lack of daylight and cold weather piled on top of tough coursework made life miserable at times. But I learned a few things to help get me through the hard times. Here’s a few tips:

1. Exercise. If you’re an outdoor exerciser, this can be difficult if you live in a place with cold winters. But if you can join an intramural basketball league- do it. Indoor soccer, running on a treadmill, broomball, yoga. Something to get you moving. Not only is it good for your physical health, but it does wonders for your mental sanity as well. Basketball games gave me something to look forward to, and during the game it was a great way to release the stress pent up inside.

2. Get away from school. Try a mini vacation. Grab some friends and take a weekend where you spend a couple days somewhere, anywhere away from school. When I was in leadership positions at school our staff would often take winter retreats. Some of my best memories are from those retreats, and I always came back refreshed and ready to tackle the stresses of life as a pre med student.

3. Take one longer term project/paper/assignment and finish it within the next few days. This one’s hard. But the benefit is worth it. If you get it done now, it’s one last thing to worry about at the end of the term. When you finish it you may be surprised how much it was weighing on you. That’s one last stressor hanging over your head for the end of the term.

4. Look forward to the future. The work you’re doing now is going to lead to a wonderful future as a physician. Think about the experiences you’ll have in med school, imagine what it would be like to practice as a doctor and talk about these dreams with your friends. Discuss how much fun it would be to practice together. It’s fun and it gives you some hope that the sacrifices you’re making now will pay off in the future.

Yep, winter term sucks. But Spring Break is soon! Take heart fellow pre meds, "The night is always darkest before the dawn."

(Source Pic)

Pre Meds- Are You Ready for a Commitment to a Life of Medicine?

It’s a question you need to consider deeply on a regular basis. It’s a question to which you cannot provide a fake answer. It’s a question that may provoke hours of thought and conversation, which may or may not provide an encouraging answer.

It’s easy to dismiss the question. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ve already thought about it enough.

A physician recently told me that of his graduating class, 50% would have chosen not to go to medical school if they knew what it was going to be like. Of course, that means 50% were very happy they decided to go to medical school. But a 50/50 chance seems like a big risk for such a huge decision. My guess is that many had misconceptions about what medical school or the practice of medicine is really like.
Continue reading Pre Meds- Are You Ready for a Commitment to a Life of Medicine?

Exam Success Tip: Find Old Tests


Tests are hard. Studying for tests is hard. Tests suck.

And science courses use tests to determine your grade. Instead of writing papers (with the exception of lab reports), you take tests. And tests suck.

It’s especially troublesome if you don’t take tests well.

So here’s the best test-taking tip I can give you:
Continue reading Exam Success Tip: Find Old Tests

Find a mentor. Now.

Good will hunting

I just watched Good Will Hunting. What a great movie. Will Hunting is a troubled young genius in need of some direction in his life. Who to turn to in such a time of need? Robin Williams of course!

Maybe some of you can relate to the burden of superior brainpower and the subsequent need for guidance. Maybe you can’t read/memorize books in a few minutes like Will, but hey, you want to be a doctor so you must have something up there. Which brings to the best advice you’ll ever hear from me.
Continue reading Find a mentor. Now.