Med-School Lectures 101

Updated: May 5, 2020

By Hithin Noble


At Manchester, the lectures we have are especially designed to go alongside our PBL case for that week. For instance, if the case we had is Type 2 Diabetes: the lectures could include discussions on the physiology of the pancreas and functioning of insulin and glucagon; to exploring the impact of obesity and genetics on the disorder, and difficulties self-managing it . Henceforth, by the end of the week, we get a holistic outlook of the disease, and have considered viewpoints of a clinician, academic researcher, as well as most importantly, the patient. Having, just finished my 2nd year, I had found these sources of information invaluable. Delivered by medical professionals and academics, all of whom are highly knowledgeable in their respective fields, they provide a perfect resource adjunct to research of our own. However, initially I did struggle to get the best out of them.

I found lectures rather surreal when I first started medical school. It’s a whole league away from the classroom setting I was used to in my local sixth form. Manchester having the largest intake in the country, the room was packed to the brim: buzzing and filled with the sweaty eagerness of first years- with their spanking new laptops and stationary bought from Rymans. I remember I was nervous- popping my head out of my seat like Alexander the Meerkat, trying to scout out what everyone else was doing. Then the lecturer started, and five minutes in, found myself scribbling away at a rate of knots. I could not keep up. So much of what the lecturer was saying was new to me, and I just did not know what was relevant, so I wrote every word down. It didn’t help that I was trying to listen to the lecturer, alongside the melodic coughing that came with half the room being struck down with Fresher’s flu. I wrote all my notes out at school- meticulously may I add- with all these fancy colours and organised in a binder. I found by the end of the lecture, my notes looked like a toddler had written out their life story, and worse of all- I barely could remember two minutes of the lectures- let alone the whole hour. I had learnt nothing.

Furthermore, reflecting on the first week of lectures, I soon realised that I had the attention-span of a goldfish, and found myself zoning out, like on I was on the tube in London. This wasn’t because of the nature of the lectures may I add- some of the lecturers were so fascinating and intriguing and provided insight to clinically relevant, ground-breaking research. However, I couldn’t concentrate. I found myself just fidgeting around in my seat and making these elaborate plans on having a productive evening. They usually went something like this:

‘I will get back to my flat, have dinner and Instagram and chill. This should really motivate me to crack on with PBL, and then I can sleep satisfied that I had done some work today’

Despite this, I realised that I had to adapt my strategy when studying lectures. Information in medical school should be first properly understood, and then techniques should be used in order for you to retain and memorize this very information. At the time, I found lectures weren’t doing either, therefore wasn’t the most effective use of my time.

Then as the weeks went by, I formed a study routine, and henceforth found a method that really worked for me. Youtube was my saviour, and channels like Osmosis and Ninja Nerd, with their eye-catching graphics, were like my CGP for med-school. I had watched the videos before my week’s lectures, and hence this gave me a flavour to what to expect from them. I used the videos to comprehend the topic, and the lectures to start my process of retaining. Moreover, if there were still gaps in my knowledge, textbooks would be where I usually found my answers. Instead of aimlessly trawling through pages of a textbooks, I now knew exactly what I needed to find. I was able to use each form of resource effectively, and this gave me the confidence to speak about the topic during PBL. Furthermore, I changed from writing lecture notes, to typing them alongside the slides, and this became an extremely useful aide during revision. This was alongside my trusty whiteboard- the bargain of the century- I couldn’t survive medical school without it. Whilst watching a video or reading a textbook or my own notes, I would try and teach myself multiple times, before then moving onto teaching my mates- often annoying them in this process. This was how I studied, but like stated in my Nandos and Medicine Article, we are all different and all study different: so, find what works for you. But slowly, a lot like Fresher’s Week, struggling with lectures were a distant memory.

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