Learning Medicine

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Body and Disease

Today marks the beginning of the last and biggest block of the Duke Med 1st year curriculum: Body and Disease.

This block encompasses the disciplines relevant to the abnormal body: pharmacology, pathology, immunology and microbiology. In essence, we're doing the entirety of a '2nd year' med school curriculum in five months.

My strategy for this block is the result of insights from the last blocks.
(1) What your PhD professors think is important is quite different from what clinicians think is important
(2) Lecture is an outmoded, passive and inefficient information delivery mechanism. Do I really need to have someone recite bullet points for me?
(3) I, like many medical students, learn best by reading books.

So basically my strategy for this block is to spend as little time at school as possible. I'm going to read textbooks and review books for each of the disciplines we're studying. Now that we're Pass/Fail, I'm going to just aim to pass my class exams. Don't get me wrong. I'm not slacking. It's just that, I'm willing to take a hit on my class exams if it means I have more time to study things more relevant and important to my career. Things like Step 1 review or clinical cases and problems. There will be some overlap with class and my own studies, but I'm not even going to bother with lecture notes. I'm going straight to the sources.

My books

Pathology: What else but Big Robbins?I'm reading this online via MDConsult because it's free through Duke. Plus online reading is faster for me and for making Anki Cards. Also, I'm using Goljan's Rapid Review Pathology to get in some more high-yield nuggets.

Immunology: Basic Immunology by Abbas and Lichtman. We're getting 2 weeks and 14 lectures of immunology. That's just surface stuff. I have some background with immunology, but I want to get the big picture in conjunction with clinically important information. So I'm not going to crush Janeway. Rather, this excellent, concise and very readable text will guide me through immuno. I can consult Janeway or Abbas' Cellular and Molecular immunology if I want some clarfication.

Pharmacology: Katzung's Basic and Clinical Pharmacology This is a really solid book with lots of clinical correlates and good pictures. Again, I've got the online version (free) so I'll be reading that and making lots of cards for all those drugs. I can't wait!

Microbiology: Lange Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology I've been reading this over the past few days and so far so good. It does what a good review book should: get to the point in a clear and logical way, with the help of visuals and tables. I like it and I think it's much better and more efficient than slogging through some undergrad microbiology text.

On the side: Along with studying from these primary sources, I'll be doing my Step 1 review with Gunner Training. I really like this resource and it's helped me a lot. The people who put it together know what high-yield information gets tested on the Step 1 and so it helps me supplement the more basic stuff I get from class and textbooks. It guides me and enhances my learning. I'll be doing the relevant sections of GT as I go through my textbook studies. That's the best way to use GT, in my opinion. I don't think it's a great primary learning tool - not in the way a textbook is at least - but it's excellent for review and supplementation.

Anyway, time for bed. That's enough nerdiness for one night.

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