Pathology is one of the most interesting courses in medical school, in my opinion. Pathology is medicine – where you learn about all the diseases and disorders of all the different organ systems. With this being said, this can be one of the more challenging classes for medical students due to the amount of information we are learning in such a small time. I personally struggle with this class, so I’m here to share my tips on how I am making it through.
QUESTION BANKS. These are essential for learning pathology. It is not enough to read from a textbook and review lecture notes – you must put these diseases into real-life scenarios and be able to identify them. I sat down with my professor one morning to discuss successful study techniques — this was her main point: she said I needed to be a ‘test zombie‘: wake up, do questions, break for lunch, do questions, break for dinner, do questions, etc. Anyone can read over lecture notes, but in order to test your knowledge and make sure you’re retaining information and learning, question banks are essential. Here are some of my favorite question banks:
- Paid Q-bank subscriptions: USMLE-Rx and U-world
- Textbook Q-banks: BRS Pathology and Kaplan USMLE Q-book
- Free online sites: University of Utah Pathology
EDIT: I just discovered a Q-bank that is free for one year with NO obligations! They didn’t ask for my credit card information or anything. I just signed up and the questions look legit – mine expires November 2017 with no limitations or anything, as far as I am seeing. I hope it is still free when my readers see this! Click here to check it out.
DAILY STUDYING. Pathology is not a course you can cram for last-minute. If you can, good for you. But for most of us, we have to study daily in order to retain all the information that we are learning. I try to study the course material that we learned in lecture for at least 1-2 hours right after the class has ended. After that, I get into question banks and quiz myself all day to learn more and do more research on different topics. I spend a good portion of my day studying pathology through questions and lecture notes.
FLASH CARDS. This is something I am currently working on and will probably need more time over break to complete. As we go through the diseases in class, I make a flash card for each individual disease with the key symptoms, exam tests, etc. When I go to study for Step 1, I will have all these flashcards with all the pathological diseases on them that I can easily quiz myself with. I find that making a flash card with all the important information in one place is much easier and more organized for me to focus on and learn the disease, vs. scrolling through hundreds of slides in lectures with everything all over the place. Plus, writing out the diseases on the card gives me repetition in learning the information, and that exposes me to the information again.
Do you have any awesome tips for studying pathology, or any resources you use that I did not mention? Let me know in the comments below! I am always open to new ideas and ways to study pathology!