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Is This Testable?

One of the most prized skills of a medical student, honed by endless hours of lecture, is reducing a seemingly never ending presentation and/or outline provided by the lecturer into some sort of format that is actually digestible. This takes practice and is definitely not a perfect science, but is a necessity. My choice method of studying is Anki, so my digestible format takes the shape of Anki cards. For better, or for worse, being constantly bombarded by exams, beginning in our pre-med course work and continuing through the MCAT, medical school, and beyond, we are primed to synthesize information in a somewhat binary fashion: testable versus not really testable. Even if you furrow your nose at this, indignantly claiming that you love learning for the sake of learning, I bet you subconsciously entertain this mindset. Honestly, how can you not? After all, it has been somewhat hardwired into you.

I don’t know if I should be all that chagrined with this outcome though, at least for the time being. This evolution has continually served me well throughout my medical school course work, as my efficiency relies on quickly deciphering what is worth committing to memory. However, as of late, I have been left with a bit of a quandary: if a lecture is not easily broken down into digestible bits, as I have grown accustomed to doing, is it simply a @hitty lecture or am I being too jaded and narrowminded.

On one hand, there is no excuse for a poorly organized lecture. Even if your assigned topic is a bit more epidemiological than mechanistic, you should still come prepared to discuss your ideas coherently, clearly, and in a logical flow. Just the other week we had a lecture on the epidemiology of hypertension. This particular lecture was provided by a physiologist, which I found a bit odd, but regardless, the purpose of the lecture was not entirely clear. All I got out of the first thirty minutes was the fact that hypertension is bad. Well, duh! Beyond that, the second half of the lecture consisted of a broad, sweeping overview of renal mechanisms that both perpetuate and combat fluid overload. Given that we were in our cardiovascular unit, as well as the fact that no specific details were really flushed out, I was kind of at a loss as to what to take away from this lecture. If you are going to discuss something, do it its due justice. In short, this was a @hitty lecture in my mind.

Now, contrast this with the clinical correlate lectures we routinely have. These parallel topics that have been presented, like congenital heart defects for instance, and showcase a physician walking through relevant cases. These are certainly enjoyable, reminding you of why you are busting your ass in the classroom, as well as giving some clinical context to your studies. After such lectures though, you can sometimes be left with the same feeling of what wondering exactly what you are supposed to be cementing in your mind. Rather than these being @hitty lectures (they generally are not), this is most likely a case of my binary thinking rearing its ugly head.

I wish I had the perfect solution to all of this, but perhaps none exists. Medicine is messy and imperfect to begin with, especially since much of it continues to be unraveled. Beyond that, the structure of blocks can be somewhat disjointed, as you have several professors from a variety of backgrounds. Perhaps I just need get back to learning for the sake of learning, fighting my ever growing urge to optimize and perfect my studying strategies. I would love to hear your take on this issue, so please don’t be shy.

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