Friday, July 31, 2015

So you got into medical school… Now what?

"So you got into medical school… Now what?" is a book written by Dr. Daniel R. Paull, a recent med school graduate. His aim was to inform newly matriculating medical students about what to expect and how to survive. For the most part, he succeeds.

The first four chapters are a bit on the dry side because Dr. Paull tries to simplify such complex things as how to live with anxiety in the first two years of medical school. He also spends a bit too much time on how to study. I agree with him that studying in medical school differs from studying in college, and that sticking to a schedule is a sensible way to organize time. However, I think that most people will figure out what works best for them on their own.

The book picks up steam starting with Chapter 5 on how to prepare for USMLE Step 1. I get a lot of questions about USMLE, and with no recent experience, I sometimes find them difficult to answer. Dr. Paull takes care of that quite nicely.

The remaining chapters offer plenty of practical advice on transitioning to the clinical years, clerkships and how to arrange them, studying for the two parts of USMLE Step 2, the fourth year of medical school, and finally how to arrange and succeed in the all-important residency interview process.

Regarding clerkships, Dr. Paull wisely recommends that students ask their residents and attendings for feedback during the rotation instead of waiting until the end to find out that their performance was not up to par. He gives some specifics like asking for feedback about H&P's and presentations and how to improve on them.

The pros and cons of away rotations are discussed in some detail and should help any student who is conflicted about whether to do one or not.

He explains how the National Resident Matching Program works and offers some hints about ranking programs which echo similar comments I have made on this blog.

The book is in trade paperback format and inexpensive at a list price of $19.95. It's also available in a Kindle edition.

My only other criticism of the book is that Dr. Paull relies a little too much on an alarm clock about to go off or going off as a way to introduce a challenge he is trying to help students deal with.

Why should we believe anything Dr. Paull says? Well, he has a bachelor of science degree in physics from New York University, graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine, and is currently an orthopedic resident at the University of Toledo in Ohio. In case you hadn't heard, orthopedic residencies are highly competitive.

Also, I have read the book myself and think most med students will find value in it.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author.


Anonymous said...

This is DrMuchoGusto, twitter. I have not read Dr. Paull's book. I would like to add a few comments in regards to succeeding in medical school. The first 2 yrs of Med school has changed a lot over the years w a lot geared to teaching "high yield" material. The thought behind this was that if you knew this high yield subjects you would have excellent foundation. I seem to disagree. Now you see med students carrying with them review books, cliff notes basically, and all these geared to earning a high score on step 1. After going through it all recently, my advice start reading the real books that give you a solid foundation and correlate concepts taught w cases. For ex, if you are being taught about metabolic acidosis, some review book might give you a laundry list of reasons one might have MA. What happens is that a lot of MS's memorize this list, but don't really have a clear understanding behind it. So it's imp that you study and understand why a certain condition is causing the MA. Later, when you are approaching boards, pick up the review books and it will be really easy to understand. Second, a lot of people become obsessed with a certain specialty they have in mind, for ex, one wanting to go into ophthalmology might only study about ocular pathology n procedures. This is good, but I find it more imp as a student to just gain an excellent foundation in medicine in general as a whole. Do not ever focus on one discipline so early on because you know what you will be studying that field forever once you start residency. What will save you once you start residency is knowing those fundamental concepts solid that you can apply/correlate w the specialty you are training in. Best of luck!

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Yes, teaching to the test. It starts in elementary school and goes right through med school. I have said in a post from 5 years ago that the right way to do the 4th year of med school would be to focus on everything but the specialty you have decided on. [] That of course is not what most students do.

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