The Best Daily Workflow for Medical School – What Works3 min read
I went from being a bad medical student to being a good medical student after fixing my daily workflow. My daily workflow in medical school is how I study, what I study, and in what order I study.
Active recall and practice testing work. Highlighting, rereading, and underlining, don’t work.
With that in mind, I developed a daily plan for learning in medical school. This strategy prepares me for step, eliminates the unnecessary, and follows my school’s lectures.
As a disclaimer this may not work for you, this is just what works for me. Don’t listen to anyone on the internet who tells you there is a perfect way to study. There isn’t. Everyone is different, there is not a perfect person, there is not a perfect study strategy. I chose this strategy because it works for me and is supported by the evidence.
Also this is not my exam review strategy, if you want to see that go here.
1. Do Anki ‘Reviews’
I am most productive in the morning. I wake up and do my Anki review cards. This takes me 3-5 hours, every day. I do this first because this is the most important thing I will do that day.
Spaced repetition is proven to improve retention over time.
As I go through the cards, using the Anking, I make sure I understand the cards rather than memorize them. This is why it takes me 3-5 hours, but, this is also why I retain the information so well.
2. Watch Third-Party Video
Next, as I have already correlated my school’s lectures to third-party content, I watch the videos related to tomorrow’s lectures.
Yes, tomorrow’s lecture.
Third-party resources are more basic than lecture material. Lecture material is from a professor who’s life is this topic. The professor has more information and presents more information than we likely need to know.
Also, this information is more difficult to understand than the third-party ‘review’ materials. So I watch the third party content of tomorrow’s lecture the day before so I show up to the lecture primed and with a basic understanding of the material. This will help me understand the lecture content better.
3. Do Related New Anki Cards to That Third-Party Video
Anking tags flashcards for each third-party video. I just go to that subsection in Anki and learn those new cards.
Again, understanding beats memorizing every time.
4. Watch School’s Lectures
School lectures can be good, and they can be bad. This is why they are not my main learning source anymore.
With good lectures, I watch them at 2x speed and enjoy them. I don’t take notes, I don’t rewatch them, I just sit and listen. I have built an understanding through third-party materials, now I get to learn exciting things for the sake of learning: new research, procedures, and clinical vignettes. It is usually information that will help me be a better clinician, but not necessarily a top exam performer.
I find when I do this ‘relaxed’ strategy I retain much more information, and spend less time with the lectures, than when I was taking notes. I also enjoy the lectures. I can do this ‘relaxed strategy,’ only because I have built my knowledge base from third-party materials, however.
With bad lectures, I don’t watch them. My time is too important, there are too many good resources out there. I value my time above all other things.
5. Practice Questions
After I have solidified my content base I test myself. Practice testing is consistently shown to be one of the most, if not the most, effective methods for studying.
As I am just beginning my step 1 revision I do only ten questions a day. Five questions of old material and five questions from the new material. As I get closer to step I will ramp up these daily questions.
This strategy works for me. It eliminates the unnecessary and focuses on the important, time-efficient, and research-driven, studying techniques.
Did you notice? I don’t take any notes.
- Anki ‘Reviews’
- Watch Third-Party Video
- Third-Party Video ‘New’ Anki Cards
- Watch School’s Lectures
- Practice Questions