Monday, March 25, 2013

Pavlov's Med Student

It seems like every time someone asks me the question, "So, is med school what you thought it would be?" my answer always involves some variation of, "It's more work than I thought - but the exams are the worst. I'd probably love it if it weren't for all the exams."

And that's true. I love the learning, I love figuring out new ways to solve problems and commit material to memory. Figuring out how to learn each subject (because for me at least, I can't learn Biochemistry the same way I learn Anatomy, or Microbiology, or Physiology...) is a challenge, and when it works out, it can be fun.

Except for exams. Some people like the challenge of exams. I hate them. Mostly, I hate preparing for them - and the 5-10 minutes that we have to wait, exam upside down in front of us, while they read us the SAME instructions at the beginning of each test. Once I'm in the exam and cruising, I calm right down and am able to get to it, blocking out all anxiety. For the Wheel of Time readers out there, I'm in the void. So taking exams isn't that bad, it's just the horrible anticipation - going to bed the night before, waking up early that morning for a couple more hours of review... Yuk.

Enter Pavlov:

Most people know his experiment (I know, it's way over-referenced... bear with me here.), but if you don't, here's the gist of it: Pavlov rang a bell, then gave a dog a treat. He repeated this a million times until eventually the now extremely obese well-fed pup would drool whenever it heard the bell ring, anticipating a treat that may never come. It was conditioned to like the sound of the bell because it knew food was coming.

My application isn't too far off. I'm going to treat myself to some extra special food at some point each day after an exam gets done - regardless of how the exam goes. IF exam, THEN food. One of my favorite new places is known affectionately by me as The Cone. They have EVERYTHING - Koegel-style hot dogs, home-cooked meals, gyros, sandwiches, burgers, salads, appetizers, and - best of ALL - 24-HOUR BREAKFAST FOOD OF ALL VARIETIES. Scrambler skillets, omelets, specialty pancakes and waffles... It's amazing. Here's the menu. They're open all day, every day, and have an early-bird special that's perfect for people like me who get up between 5:00am-6:30am each day: two eggs, hashbrowns, breakfast meat, and toast for $2.99. Whoop whoop!

So here's to hopefully starting each exam day with a little drool on my pillow and hunger-grumble in my stomach when the alarm sounds, rather than the traditional romping of nervous, buffalo-sized butterflies. And to The Cone, for its brilliance in culinary artisanship and diner excellence.


Susan said...

Great idea-hope it works. If it does they'll have to instruct students on the how to's at the beginning of the year!

Jo said...

I noticed in one of your old posts that you mentioned how you use an iPad to take notes. How well has that worked out for you? And how do most people in med school take notes - with a laptop, paper & pen, printed slides, ipad?

I'm trying to figure out what type of laptop/tablet to get next year for med school so any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Justin said...

@Jo - I actually love taking notes on my iPad. It works out great for me. We get huge PDF documents of our coursepacks, which vary from about 200 to 1600 pages in length. Once that is loaded onto my iPad (which can take forever - fault of the coursepacks, not the iPad), I export each class period's notes to Dropbox so I can have a searchable backup on my computer. I would say probably half of the students annotate on an iPad and half still lug around the papers. Keep an open mind though - I know some people who thought they'd love the tablet annotation and hated it so much they switched back to paper, but I also know some who never thought they'd be comfortable enough with technology to use an iPad and now wouldn't be without it! It's all about finding what works for you. I love having my notes available on any device via Dropbox, and backed up so that if anything happens to my iPad, all I lose is the iPad.

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