Monday, January 14, 2013

Second Semester of Naturopathic Medical School: Plan of Action

For some reason I still cannot fathom that it's 2013. I totally remember starting 2012, and now over 365 days have passed, wow.

I was planning to post my mistakes of my first semester of Naturopathic Medical school before writing this post, but I was more excited to write this one, so please excuse the order.

I've met many brilliant people in life so far, and a gift they commonly have is a photographic memory, or they seem to understand and remember things effortlessly. I used to be slightly jealous when I'd put in endless hours while their brilliancy carried them through all tides, but I accept that we all have our own gifts. Along with our natural strengths come our weaknesses to balance us out, and I've learned throughout university where my weaknesses lie. School has encouraged me to fine tune those weaknesses if I want to enjoy my education, and my prime 20's. So, I'll share my plan with you!

Plans for Year 1 Semester 2:

Review after every class within 72 hours
  • During my undergrad I volunteered as a Study Skills Peer Educator, and it was honestly one of my favourite experiences. One of the key things I remember learning and sharing with likely all of my students was that if you review your lecture material within 24-72 hours after hearing it, you will be able to recall that information much easier, and it will be easier to store within your long-term memory upon review. Of course the effect is stronger the sooner you are able to review, but I've given myself leeway of 3 days as I try to re-establish this routine
Use one day each weekend to do (absolutely) required readings for the next week
  • I find that all I need is one full day off on the weekend to not do schoolwork, and the other day I don't mind allocating a few hours of my brain time to school. So I feel this will work for me especially since during the evenings of our long days (Monday to Thursday), I'd really just like to focus on getting through the day, and preparing for the next day
  • The reason absolutely is bracketed is because some of my courses this term will require preparation - for example, Asian Medicine Point Location and Hydrotherapy. There are some courses that I may just want to take a look at what will be covered so that it doesn't feel as though I'm in the middle of a tornado during lecture (ie. Anatomy)
  • I should also add that in case I fall behind on my weekly review (ie. there are many assignments), I will also use this day to catch up on the reviews I didn't get to do. That way, rather than feeling I have to catch up on the backlog of reviewing during the week, I can focus on each day, and remind myself that on my weekend day, I have those extra hours for that purpose. 

Have a plan of action for each class
  • I had planned to have a plan of action, but didn't sit down and put pen to paper to make it official. A huge issue I noticed during midterm AND final exam time was that I didn't become efficient until it was crunch time. Each time I thought to myself - if only I had started using this strategy earlier. So, this time around, I will have a plan of action for how I intend to do well in a realistic manner for each of my courses.

Implement Study Methods of Another Successful Medical School Student - Alex (Medical School Success)
  • Shortly after receiving my acceptance to CCNM, I was trumped by the question of how I would be able to handle the workload. So I did some research on other medical students who accept that life is a constant work in progress, and were continually trying to improve themselves. That's when I came across Alex's website, and have been a devoted follower since, as through his website, he provides practical advice about how to be successful in med school (in addition to the application process), and is humourous. So when he released his first e-book, I was supportive because he has been so generous with his advice, and I knew the tips in his e-book would be helpful. Although Naturopathic Medicine is a huge component of my life and is a field I've grown passionate about, I don't want my academic work to consume 100% of my brain power because there is more to life and education
  • There are several strategies I've learned from his e-book that I intend to implement this term:
    • Use a laptop instead of printing notes: If you could see the piles of paper I recycled after exams, you'd feel guilty even though it wasn't you who printed them. I'd like to go paperless because I'd like to reduce the footprint I leave on our home, beautiful Mother Earth. I'd also like to paperless because commuting with binders/folders and textbooks, and flipping through notes became a huge hassle. One of the huge selling points of Alex's method for me was that I'd be able to modify my computer files as I would in real life. The only thing I'll be missing is papercuts.

    • Cater studying to course objectives: This approach was stimulated by Alex as he strongly encourages studying practice questions in order to be successful for applying and knowing whether you understand the relevant course material. Each course comes with a syllabus/outline, which entails the main concepts you are expected to know for that subject. When you think about it, an exam is a compilation of questions from multiple topics, some of which test your surface knowledge, whereas others test your ability to apply that knowledge. So I've decided that for each course (on my weekend study day), I will answer the course objectives for the week that I learn them.

Why Didn't I Do These Things Last Semester?

That is indeed such a great question, I ask myself that a lot. But alas, we can't live in the past, so we'll learn from it instead.

  • I didn't have a plan of action for each class until it was exam time, when I had to be efficient with my time and buckle down. That is why I am going to make a plan of action at the beginning of this term, which will guide what I spend my time on and why
  • My mind was scattered because I wasn't confident in my ability to handle the workload. It was just something I had to experience so I would learn that it is possible for me, and tweak my learning process as necessary based on my mistakes
  • There was a lot of class time, and many assignments - not leaving much room to waste time. To add, I wasn't completely comfortable with skipping class to get my work done, because if I'm paying a high tuition, I want to be learning within every moment I've paid to be in class
  • I had a difficult time balancing my self-care, and sometimes prioritized the wrong things. For example, I worked out 2-3 times a week, and sometimes I would have an assignment due the next day following a workout. Although I became better with starting assignments before the due date, I still underestimated how long it would take to complete the assignment, and would consequentially lose sleep, and eat junk food because it was late and my adrenaline would be pumping - which would put me back at square one

It is my hope that you've read some strategies here that you might want to give a try, and maybe you've had the same experience as me - we can improve our habits together. Overall, I hope that I will be able to relax and focus more in class as a result of feeling more organized. Also, I hope that when exam time comes, this system will allow me to review rather than be catching up. Who knows, maybe I'll even get fewer to no migraines!

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