First year was overwhelming. There was a new city to navigate, with new concepts to master, new people to meet, and new professors to learn from. For me, the hardest thing to adjust to was the amount of time spent in the classroom. The excessive time spent in class brought with it additional challenges, such as figuring out how to study. However, once I found a consistent study pattern that worked well with my schedule, things kind of started to fall into place for me. By the end of the Spring term, I was on a pretty good roll.
Now, as I am gearing up for the first round of exams, I find myself questioning if my old study habits will produce identical results to those which I obtained just a mere six months ago. The primary source of this doubt is solely due to the course General and Systemic Pathology.
“Path” truly sets itself apart from the other veterinary school courses. On paper, it is a 16 credit required course that second-year students at the University of Pennsylvania must take. Second-years also go through Parasitology, Microbiology, Surgical Principles and an “Intro to Clinical Veterinary Medicine” course during the same time, which gives a grand total of…a lot of credits packed into one semester.
Daunting? Yes. Do-able? Of course.
Our Path class, though extremely intimidating in nature, is by far one of the most clinically relevant classes we have had to take up to this point. There are gross demonstrations that help students create morphological diagnoses, and interactive case studies online that add another dimension to the class. Not to mention, we sit through a LOT of lectures- but the class certainly has captured my attention.
Historically, my approach to studying for exams is to structure my studying in blocks. Luckily, the course organizer has already separated lectures into categories, which makes dividing up the study time a little easier for me. Integrating the case studies into my review should not be too difficult, as long as I revisit the cases after I have a basic understanding of the lecture material that is supposed to be re-enforced in those cases. Once all that is done, I repeat, repeat, repeat!
I try to look at each class a challenge. I want to prove to myself that I can understand the material and reproduce that knowledge in the form of an exam. More importantly, I want to be able to retain the knowledge for the rest of my career, and be able to apply it clinically. I have found that with enough repetition, the material becomes second-nature!
Of course, this kind of studying is not feasible for every type of learner. It has worked for me, and I do think is a great way to start studying if you find yourself struggling with how to approach a difficult class. But again, you have to do what works for you!