Learning Speeds In Medical School

Heroic measures in cardiac arrest

In the classic fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise wins the race against the hare by slow and steady persistence.  There are some students who quickly grasp concepts and facts, and have a steep rising learning curve.  Others are slower, but with persistence, can not only achieve the goal, but achieve a greater degree of knowledge and understanding than quicker learners.  Their learning curve may rise slower, but end up higher.

I was a relatively slow reader in medical school.  It sometimes felt like I was miles behind and would never catch up.  However, I eventually learned that understanding key concepts, as opposed to simple rote memorization of isolated facts, can quickly reduce the gap.  Once one has understanding, the facts are more easily organized and remembered.

If you are having difficulty keeping up,  you may not be as far behind as you think. Sometimes, understanding a few key points quickly closes the gap.  I suggest trying to understand, rather than simply rote memorize, and bear in mind that slow and steady adds up down the line.

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Which do you prefer, eBooks or print books?

Posted on November 6, 2011, in Rapid Learning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love reading your posts. This one was especially relevant to me because I just recently dropped out of nursing school. I had ‘A’s and ‘B’s but always felt so far behind. Just as you describe, I am one of those people who learn (especially read) slower *because* I want to master and fully understand the material. It was literally making me physically sick to rush through hundreds of pages of dense material just to reach some arbitrary milestone.

  2. Thanks, Curtis. Through the years, I have learned the value of doing a little bit each day, rather than cramming at the end. It truly adds up. Perhaps it is not too late to enter the clinical world. The problem you have experienced with slow reading is far more common than you might think. It may help to look to a shorter book that gets right to the point of clinical relevance and emphasizes understanding.

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