How I use Quizlet to study for the Medical Placement
Quizlet is proud to partner with real students to showcase authentic voices on our blog. This guest post is by Malaika Haider, a medical student at University of Manchester in UK.
Looking back on my preclinical years, I’d describe them as sunny with occasional light spells of rain. I knew the clinical years might bring in the frequent cloudy day, but no meteorologist could have predicted my first year in hospital would be spent under the perpetual black cloud of a global pandemic.
However, the lack of a stable clinical environment served to further the importance of self-directed learning in medical school. As third-year students, it’s our responsibility to balance clinical time in wards with online learning.
Full disclosure: At the start of the academic year, I struggled to find this balance. I was so excited to be on the wards seeing patients, that I felt guilty for heading to the library to work on my assigned reading. I also realized that my current study techniques just weren’t efficient enough for the clinical years. We have less time to learn so much more.
Maximal Gains in Minimal Time
Poring over a Grey’s Anatomy textbook was not only mentally draining, but I’m sure I spent more time people-watching and scrolling through Instagram than actually retaining any information.
Quizlet excels at incorporating the two most effective study methods for retaining information: active recall and spaced repetition.
Rereading a long page of notes doesn’t actually provide much utility at all. That’s why I find the Learning Assistant on Quizlet so incredibly useful. By analyzing my previous answers, I’m constantly challenged on information I usually fail to recall. That’s why I personally like to select the “let’s find out” option when using the Learning Assistant so I can identify gaps in my knowledge and focus on them rather than waste time on topics I already can recall.
The Learning Assistant often switches up the question style, from flashcards to matching to writing out an answer. This way I’m not memorizing a pattern, I’m actively retrieving information. And this makes all the difference.
The progress bar also lets me know when I’ve last studied a set and where I am in my learning journey so I can plan out my spaced repetition schedule.
The nature of clinical placements is unpredictable; my days are dictated by circumstances I can’t control or predict. Some days on the wards I’m not doing very much at all but other days I’ll spend a full morning running around inserting cannulas. If my time had to be flexible, so did my study methods.
Space is a rare commodity on wards, especially when you add in social distancing limitations. I rarely have the luxury of a desk with enough space for a laptop and a textbook. With the Quizlet app, I can sync my progress on both my laptop and my phone so as long as I have a chair or even a corner to stand in for five minutes. I'm always learning.
I’ve also found the Quizlet app to be a helpful tool for long commutes, whether that’s waking my brain up in the morning with some flashcards or killing time when I’m waiting for the train home. High yield learning means even a spare 15 minutes is valuable study time.
As someone who once swore by a paper, pen and a good old-fashioned notebook when studying, I couldn’t be more thankful to my past self for making the switch in the clinical years. I was suddenly dealing with a high volume of information that I needed to condense quickly. Fortunately, chances are that some kind soul on the internet has already done it for you in the form of a diagram on Quizlet.
From flow charts showing you how to treat hypertension in adult populations to tables showing you electrolyte concentrations in IV fluids, visual learning is a huge part of clinical medicine.
I’ve found that copying out diagrams by hand is time-consuming and honestly not helpful in review. With Quizlet, I can import my own image, blur out the information I need to remember and practice filling in the gaps myself.
I’ve found this feature particularly useful with interpreting X-rays too. I just upload an X-ray and use the point feature to note any relevant features. Then I can practice identifying it straight from the image.
Another benefit over paper and pen is the ability to constantly add new information or update old guidance. Medicine is a field that’s constantly evolving. New research means we have to change the way we approach a disease or a treatment. Making amendments to old sets is easy and I can add and delete as needed.
These are just a few of many ways that I’ve incorporated Quizlet into my study routine. If we’re learned anything from the past year, it’s that unpredicted circumstances require flexibility and adaptation. I predict that the perpetual black cloud will dissipate to sunny skies really soon!