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One Student’s Journey

By Anita Savell
By Anita Savell

One Student’s Journey

Having been immersed in the life of a first-year medical student for what has felt like decades, it seems strange to think that just one year ago I was anticipating what medical school would be like.

I imagined lectures full of Latin words I didn’t know, trying to memorize mountains of information, and getting up early to study after staying up late to study the night before.
After experiencing the first year of medical school, I have revisited those expectations. While there are plenty of Latin-laden lectures, finding a few root words helps make the content more accessible. For example, seeing a midsagittal cut of the brain for the first time and being bombarded with words like corpus callosum and septum pellucidum was a bit of overwhelming. However, I quickly learned that corpus callosum meant “tough body” and septum pellucidum simply meant “transparent” septum—and those translations made sense based on the physical appearance of the structures. There was a logical approach to naming and brute force memorization was not required.

Techniques like learning etymology, drawing out structures and pathways, and asking “why” have allowed me to avoid the memorization I worried about when entering school. Instead of memorizing, I focus on using logic to learn and work through problems so that I retain the information for years to come. This learning approach also helped me avoid my last pre-medical school fear: studying from dusk ‘til dawn. When learning instead of memorizing, pieces fall into place more quickly. Thankfully, I have yet to pull an all-nighter, though I am sure clinical rotations (starting in just over a year!) will quickly change that.

This summer I will be heading off to a clinical research program in North Carolina and look forward to reporting back on the experience. Thank you for coming along with me on my first-year journey!

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