Now you must realize by now, that I do not have a “Surviving Term 3” post, and that’s because term three is known as “Term Free”, amongst the SGU students. It’s obviously the term where you get to relax a bit, but I wouldn’t completely neglect at least putting in 2 hours of studying each day, just so the material doesn’t creep up on you. The material isn’t light, and it may be easy but I figure why not put in some little time to get that GPA looking right at the end of the day? Most of my days were spent watching movies on Netflix, but I did dedicate those 2 hours or a little more depending on the topic, in term 3. Otherwise, don’t stress over it too much, and enjoy the time you have now in term 3, because the shit will definitely hit the fan in term 4.
As for term 4, you are going to have your day filled with lectures, CPD labs, path labs and then the rest of the day for studying. Eventually, you will have micro labs, which for us was every Friday. It’s just 1 lab a week, that you “prepare” for, but it isn’t stressful and isn’t hard to prepare for either. The idea of the lab is to help you with looking at lab results, cases and coming up with a diagnosis, and what particular microbe you believe is responsible. They do give a definitive diagnosis, but the preparation involves figuring it out on your own.
So your days are going to be hectic. Term 4 isn’t an easy term, it’s a term where it basically separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. It’s the term which has you standing in front of your mirror, contemplating all the decisions you systematically made to reach up to that point in medical school. It isn’t easy and I am guessing, it’s not meant to be. Now, it isn’t the information that is hard, because at the end of the day for microbiology, it’s the microbe, it’s life cycle, what it does, presentation and treatment (which comes post midterm), and for pathology, it’s basically the same. What the presentation is, what’s the etiology, pathogenesis, etc., which I will speak about in detail as I break down each course in this surviving term 4, post. What makes it hard, is the volume of information. Each week, they just pile on a different system, and just keep piling it on without you grasping the previous one as yet. So I will recommend that you feel comfortable with being 2 weeks behind. You are going to have a hard time struggling with this because up until now, you have always kept up with the information as it was given, but unless you plan to have a nervous breakdown because the volume of information makes it impossible to keep up with it, this is something you just need to come to terms with.
So, as with all the other surviving terms post, I am going to just provide the tactics that I used to survive term 4 and to actually make it one of my best terms at SGU. You do not have to follow my suggestions, but it is what worked for me and I am sure it would work for you also.
This course is going to be all memorization. After awhile, especially post midterm, it becomes a little harder to just memorize and organization becomes key. For the duration of the course, I used sketchy micro. For pre-midterm, this was my go to, for building an overall picture of each microbe. It works very well by providing hints, that are pretty clever and definitely will help you answer a few questions on the exam, especially when you are stump and cannot recall the information so readily. So I would begin looking at sketchy micro, as soon as individual micro-organisms are mentioned. As for the viruses lecture, I memorized those slides, word for word, which helped me a lot. The professor provided us in the lectures, with a nice break down of DNA and RNA viruses, and a break down on whether they are enveloped or not, and drawing that over and over, helped me answer a lot of questions on the midterm.
For parasite, as I found and most of us did, the lecture notes to be not so helpful with compartmentalizing the information so that it builds an overall picture. To help with this, Sketchy Micro was used along with Mina’s notes for parasites. Once you are a part of your Facebook SGU page, you can easily get your hands on Mina’s notes. Those saved me a lot of time and frustration, when it came to compiling the information from the parasites lecture. She has an excellent way of just putting everything into one space, rather than how some of the lectures jump from one place to another, but speaking about the same microbe.
So that’s pre-midterm, where everything, even in pathology, isn’t as overwhelming. As soon as post-midterm came around, it was just information after information being thrown at us. So, I started using Quizlet and literally transformed my lectures into flash cards so that I could look at the information over and over again. Also made it easier for when the finals came around, that I could just go through flash cards as a quick review, rather than look at each lecture over and over again. Although pre-midterm I was diligently using sketchy, post mid-term I didn’t but regretted it slightly. I did sit down a few days before the final exam, and just looked at sketchy micro for any of the micro-organisms I didn’t look at. Mind you, I had already looked at the lecture information in regards to those individual micro-organisms, so it was like another way to review the information. I would suggest looking at sketchy micro, progressively throughout the semester, and not compile a set of videos at the end, like I did. How I incorporated it into my studies, is when I came to a micro-organism, I looked at the video. As a final note, make sure to look at it over and over again, repetition is key here also.
Now this is the 13 credit class that you cannot afford to get comfortable with. Even if you ace the midterm, do not get comfortable with the course. This is something you need to commit to, 100% from the beginning to the end and once you do that, it will be more than worth it!
Pre-midterm, you start off with the basics, and just 2 systems before the midterm. I will get my hands on Maham’s, and specifically the “white bread” version of it. It is a power point presentation, that a previous student who’s name is Maham, compiled. There is a pre and post-midterm Maham’s white bread. Literally, just memorize that powerpoint and you will be set. You can always study side by side, with your lecture notes and use Robbin’s for reference, which I did. If something in Maham’s didn’t make sense because I needed more info, I would use Robbins, as Maham’s and lecture notes tend to be the same anyways. I looked at the lecture notes, to make sure there wasn’t some information missing from Maham’s or outdated information, which at times there was. Also, it is good to use for preparing your labs, as you do not want to spend too much time on those, along with the concept maps.
Another thing I did was use Uworld. Pre-midterm, I fell into the trap and used WebPath, but I didn’t find that was really helpful. It only helped with diagnosing but that’s about it really. I only did piece of a system pre-midterm and post mid-term from Webpath. Uworld, is way better and prepares you for the STEP and for the pathology exams! So I would go with Uworld, as your number 1 source. You can try out WebPath and see if it works better for you, but still try to incorporate Uworld as part of your question bank.
This will definitely be your easier course, but as you have to go to it twice a week, answer a weekly quiz, look at videos to prepare for the small group and remember those skills for the final, it isn’t a course to slack on either. All those quizzes online and exercises that you have to submit, which includes 12 quizzes, 2 reasoning skill exercises and 2 OSCE quizzes (which you do as a group but the SOAP notes are the ones individually marked), can help in giving you an easy A or a very high B. I see no reason doing poorly in this course at all because at the end of the day, this is what you will be doing for the rest of your life anyways. So appreciate the down-time for it, because at times you will be frustrated by having to spend time going to the small groups when you’d rather be home studying, but that 2 hour rest helps at the end of the day but it can be fun and relaxing if you allowed it to be.
So that is it basically, the break down is pretty simple and if you follow it, you will do very well. A lot of people stressed themselves out trying to figure out which resources to use, and just became unnecessarily overwhelmed. Of course you will feel overwhelmed at times but it should be the volume of work that’s overwhelming you and not which resource to use to study your material, because that takes up precious time. It’s either your use the notes, or the ones I mentioned above. But do not use multiple resources, it only confuses you and takes up unnecessary time from actually learning the information.
Also, take the time to relax every now and then. If you start feeling too overwhelmed and that you do not seem to be retaining the information readily anymore, take a break. Either take a Saturday off, or whatever. Just make sure to take a break because this period at SGU is 6 months, and the longest. You will get physically and emotionally exhausted. You will start just wanting the semester to be over with, and done with. It literally does feel like a prison sentence at times, but to help you keep going and to keep that spirit up that you had when you started medical school in the first place, you need to allow some rest and relaxation.
Finally, repetition is and always will be the key to remembering information. I went through micro and path information so many times before the final. There is no reason you cannot do the same. You can always start off your studying with a little review of a previous system. Maybe spend an hour and time yourself and once that hour is done, you start studying the new information. You will not remember anything if you just go through it once, so find the time! I did, so I am sure you can. There is time there, you just have to find it. One of the ways is following what I just said, giving yourself a timed period of review, and then move onto studying new information. Or get up earlier, and review for an hour and then the rest of the day be for the new information. Whatever you do, please just find the time because one of the frustrations of term 4, is that feeling of dread and fear, when after putting your all into studying something, having the confidence that you know the information because we can recite it like your favorite tune and then the day afterwards, remember nothing! You will feel like giving up but just go over it again, and you will remember the information for the examination, trust me.
Good luck and if you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to answer any questions!