It’s no secret that medical school can be mentally and physically exhausting. For this reason, it’s essential to indulge in other activities to unwind and decompress from the whirlwind of clinical duties, classes, and reviews. While a combination of managing your medical courses and extracurriculars can be hard to juggle, there are certain strategies you can adopt to make the most of everything. Keep reading as we look at how to balance multiple classes in med school.
How Many Classes Do You Take in Medical School?
Let’s consider which med school subjects all medical students are expected to complete in the US:
Preclinical classes are those you typically learn in a seminar or lecture format outside the hospital. Many schools teach these classes on a separate campus from their teaching hospital. The coursework includes the following subjects:
- Medical Ethics
- Epidemiology/ Biostatistics
Following your preclinical years of med school, you’ll have to transition to hospital-based learning. Here, students make rotations around various areas of medicine, learning how medical specialization works. In America, clinical rotations start in the 3rd and 4th year. Most medical colleges cover rotations in these topics:
- Emergency Medicine: unscheduled patient care or emergencies and accidents
- Pediatrics: providing healthcare for young adults and children
- Anesthesiology: pain relief during surgeries
- Family Medicine: general practice, i.e. healthcare for individuals of every age
- Ophthalmology: eye-related diseases
- Dermatology: diseases related to hair, nails, and skin
- Radiology: diagnosing diseases with imaging techniques, such as CT scan, MRI, X-ray, etc.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology: illnesses related to female reproductivity and care during pregnancy
- Urology: sex organs or urinary tract diseases
- Neurology/ Psychiatry: behavioral or learning disorders and brain-related diseases
- Surgery: learning operative procedures to help treat illness or disease
These subjects are much better understood when observed rather than learning the content in a lecture-based format. Still, some schools teach the material with lectures based on how they’re structured. You can probably tell by now that the medical school course load is both extensive and heavy, explaining the high cost involved in training doctors.
5 and 6-Year Medicine Programs
If you’re pursuing a longer medical degree that is 5 to 6 years in length, you’ll also have to cover some extra subjects preceding preclinical ones:
Such courses usually have an aspect of foundational teaching, which means they are prerequisites for getting a medical education in the US. Six-year courses also have an ‘internship year’ near the end. This refers to an additional, unpaid study year where specific rotations are repeated so students can focus more on procedural-based techniques.
You might have to obtain a set number of credits to graduate from certain medical programs, expecting students to take extra classes in addition to the core curriculum. Electives are dependent on the college and are different from your regular courses. Some elective examples include:
- Abdominal Ultrasound in Gastroenterology
- Clinical Hematology
- First Aid
- Tropical Medicine
- Molecular Biology
Why Do Medical Students Have to Take Multiple Classes?
In medical school, all the information you learn from your courses is invaluable because it is applied in real life. Study areas such as anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology are used to understand, diagnose, and treat illnesses. Learning the extensive course load is necessary to become a competent doctor.
When you take multiple classes, you can delve beyond the basic lecture material to satisfy your queries and curiosity regarding everything you’ve been taught. This extra detail could make a considerable difference to you and a patient in a clinical situation. Medical school is a path of lifelong learning, building the basis of professional knowledge for your career. Safe to say, it isn’t for the weak!
7 Tips on How to Manage Multiple Classes in Med School
Here are some tips on how to study for multiple classes as a medical student:
Make a Study Schedule
We always recommend creating a study timetable for medical students to stay on track and reduce distractions. With a schedule, you’ll be able to complete your lab work and homework assignments while learning essential medical concepts and difficult terminologies.
It’s always better to study with breaks rather than trying to focus on material for four to three consecutive hours. Limit your study sessions to 40-30 minutes if possible since studying for an extended period typically leads to procrastination.
Find a Study Method that Suits You
Managing multiple med school classes can be challenging, so it’s crucial to adopt a study style that works for you. This way, you will be much more likely to achieve your desired grades. You can employ several effective study techniques to study medical school content efficiently. For example, you can make flashcards or watch videos online. Do some research and figure out your learning style to make studying enjoyable.
Break Down Big Tasks into Simpler Ones
Undoubtedly, there will be days when you have a lot to accomplish and wish to complete every goal. In that case, making a list of things to do every morning and getting a clear picture of what needs to be done is in your best interest. Let’s be honest; juggling several tasks together will get you nowhere, and you should break them down into smaller chunks.
Break a three-hour study session into 40 to 30 minutes with a 5-minute break in between. Not only will it increase your efficiency, but it will also help you retain information for longer. Set a time limit for the next time you are working on an assignment or revising material, and take short breaks when necessary. When you break down big tasks into bite-sized ones, your mind remains fresh and helps you complete tasks quickly.
Study in Various Work Hours
Balancing anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, and histology simultaneously is no easy feat, which is why it’s essential to set time aside for each subject. For instance, consider dedicating Monday for biochemistry and pharmacology, Tuesday for histology and anatomy, and so on. This strategy will help you stay on top of your studies and plan better for each day. Continuously reviewing your lecture material and studying a little bit daily will take you a long way. The stress of last-minute cramming won’t be present as information will be in your mind for long.
At times, a med school professor may use a medical concept or terminology in class that’s complicated to understand. The best way to clear your confusion is by recording the lecture. You can listen to it a few times at home to grasp the concept and prepare for the exam.
Additionally, certain people have difficulty concentrating in class, so a recorded lecture is a sensible learning approach. While listening to the lecture, identify the important points and make notes.
Take Practice Tests
Medical students are required to pass the USMLE Step 1 and 2 if they want to practice medicine. Build confidence and familiarize yourself with the test format by taking multiple tests whenever possible.
Join Group Study Sessions
No one better understands how to balance medical school and life than your peers. Seek out a group of friends you can study with, as this can boost your motivation and productivity. Study in groups and discuss topics you find confusing to accelerate your learning. You can also compare notes and quiz each other, sharpening your mind and helping you think on your feet.
How to Manage Stress in Medical School?
Managing the medical school workload and life in general stresses most students out. Go through the following tips to understand how you can prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed:
- Stay healthy by maintaining a good diet and exercising
- Try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night
- Find a relaxation activity or technique that works for you, such as meditation, yoga, or even intensive martial arts
- Make the effort to connect with peers, family, and friends and have a good time amidst all the chaos of med school
- Get in touch with a therapist or counselor if your stress or anxiety is becoming unmanageable
- Spend some time working with the community to remind yourself of why you chose this field in the first place
- Journal at the end of the day to help dismiss every little worry or thought
Wrapping Things Up: How to Balance Multiple Classes in Med School?
The challenging journey through medical school can be daunting for many. Still, preparing for this journey beforehand can help you manage multiple classes and other commitments in your life. Time management for medical students is essential if you want to achieve good grades and succeed in your career. For more tips on how to excel in medical school, go through our comprehensive article above.