25 Tips for UERM Med Freshies

It’s been exactly one month since classes started in the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center Inc (UERMMMCI) but it feels like we’ve been studying for a sem already.

Seeing new faces in our dear institution is pretty refreshing but at the same time makes me feel kinda old, hahaha! Being a sophomore, I now see myself giving pieces of advice to some freshmen I know. So once and for all, I’ve personally reflected and collected my thoughts on what I would want to share to the freshies out there (and I could not have done this list without the input of some dear friends 🙂 ).

It may be a bit late, but yeah, better late than never. 🙂 These are the things I wish someone has told me when I was a freshman. Here are my 25 tips for UERM freshies:

1. Define your biggest ‘whys’.

This is given. I’m quite sure you have this answered as you practice for your interview then. Again, you should be asking yourself why you even pursued medicine. I am telling you this early that no matter how sure you were when you’ve decided to take this course, somewhere along the line you’ll be asking yourself if you’ve really made the right decision. That’s why this is so important. Having this will remind you that you have reasons that will push you to continue the fight and that, the road to MD, no matter how gruesome it is, is worth undergoing. 🙂

2. Make a compilation of your favorite inspiring quotes.

Along with your biggest ‘whys’, have with you some of your favorite quotes or bible verses. Put them in a place where you’ll always see them, for instance, on your study table or on the walls of your room. As for me, aside from having some on my table even some in my bathroom, I also write some motivational quotes and inspiring thoughts in my planner.  Looking at these gives me a boost as I go to classes day by day. GV all the way! 🙂

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🙂

3. Buy a bigger and sturdier bookstand.

As you have probably noticed, books in medicine are really dense that at times they come in volumes. That’s why you need to have a bookstand that would adequately support your bulky books. Make sure its leg or whatever you call it won’t slip as you place your Netter, Moore, Berne&Levy or your Devlin.

4. Stock up some essentials.

When you go to the bookstore, you have to stock up some important supplies such as ballpens, highlighters, yellow pad, and bond paper.

Ballpens: Although G-tech pen is a personal favourite, I still have to stock up some Panda pens. As far as I know, sign pens are not allowed to be used during exams that’s why I use Panda pens instead since they are pretty convenient – it only takes a little time to completely shade those little circles in scantrons. So have some ordinary ballpens with you, although some departments like Physio and Biochem will give out some ballpens that you can use during exams. But of course, you have to hand them back.

Highlighters: It helps to have extra highlighters with you. No amount of frustration can be compared as you witness your highlighter giving up on you in the middle of the night as you study for the long exams. So it’s better to hoard some highlighters once in a while. 🙂

Oh no, not like this please.

Coloring book. 🙂

Yellow pad: Avoid being a parasite when the professor asks you to get a ¼ sheet of paper by having a stock of yellow pad. You would also need this for your Biochem assignments later on. 😉

Bond paper: Buy in reams. One ream of paper is not even enough if you are to print all of your transes for the first semester. It doesn’t have to be in 80gsm. What’s important is to have your files immortalize into hard copies right? Tip: Ream of Canon paper from ALVA is up for only 160php  it was only 125php before idk why they had a price hike. You know what to do. 😉 (Update: ALVA no longer sells this paper. Sad 😦 )

5. Develop a study habit.

If you already have a study habit developed during your undergrad years, then good. If not, then you should be having one. It is not enough to just listen to the professors during class. In medicine, you would be doing 3 things most of the time, which are read, read and read. And the bulk of the information that you have to study might be quite overwhelming so it would be pretty helpful if you know your best personal method to learn. Here are some things you should consider in developing your study habit:

-What type of learner are you? Are you visual, auditory or tactile? Find out here.

-When do you prefer to study? Afternoon? At night? Early morning?

-Do you like studying alone or in group?

-Do you prefer a quiet place when you’re studying or those areas with background noises?

-Do you listen to music when you study?

-Do you use highlighters?

-Do you make flashcards while you study?

6. Try to be awake during lectures.

It helps to have your full attention to the professor and to absorb what is being explained as he/she delivers the lecture. It lessens the time for you to process the topic at hand since you have listened. But with the comfy chairs in our school, they really are conducive for sleeping.

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Univ Audi 1 & 2. 🙂

But please, before you succumb to drowsiness, make sure you do everything you can to be awake. At least you can tell to yourself that you’ve tried. 🙂  Personally, if ever I feel sleepy, I consider doing one of these 5 things:

-Stretch my arms

-Shift my weight from time to time

-Go to the rest room

-Eat or drink something

-Doodle

7. Be proactive.

Make an effort to learn. Big chunk of learning in med school comes from within you, because even though you attend all the lectures and comply with all of the requirements, if you don’t put your mind and soul into it, you wouldn’t appreciate the journey that you have started. You would only see med school as a burden, something that you just wanted to end ASAP. You can start being proactive by trying to read ahead a few chapters  of the book or the previous transes before coming to class which is something I’m trying to work on too right now. If you do so, you would be enthralled with the things you’ve learned and will be learning but later on you’ll be overloaded with info haha! I kid! 🙂 

8. Make a goal oriented time table.

Have the right mindset daily by keeping a goal oriented time table. As for me, I list the things I have to do according to priority in my planner. I allot time for a certain task based from my own pacing and try to beat my set deadline (i.e., by this time I should be done with this, then I’ll be doing that next). I would then feel accomplished and productive once I see all of the tasks with check marks on the side. It gives me a sense of fulfillment no matter how little they may seem. For me, these little victories, even though they are self-imposed, give me an assurance that I am on the right track. 🙂

9. Do your homework & workbooks ahead of time.

Instead of procrastinating, you should do your homework like a week or few days before the deadline. You never know, its due date might also be the same day that you would be having quizzes from other subjects so it pays to be prepared. More particularly, you should do your manuals/workbooks ahead of time. The time you use in rushing to have those answers written is supposedly your allotted time for studying had you been prepared beforehand.

10. Make use of your ISP/ILP wisely.

During ISP, you can do your home works with your friends, or study in the library instead. It can also be the time to do some household errands like laundry, groceries, etc. so that you have more time later for studying. It really is your call. It’s up to you on how you use it.  For ILP, I really recommend that you go to the Anatomy lab. Back then, I consider ILP as the apt time for me to carefully examine other group’s cadavers and to listen to some of my awesome classmates give tips on how to remember such structures well.

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Histo lab 🙂

And if it’s for Histo, it’s the time for me to take photos of some slides that I missed during the usual lab period or I would be studying some anatomic models with friends.

11. Do all of your Physiology experiments.

In your Physio lab practicals, you would be demonstrating the experiments one on one with a professor. Back then with my group, we make sure everyone performs the experiment. If the procedures take time, we divide the experiment then we share to each other how we’ve done it. To be safe, make sure you do all of the experiments, or if not, at least know how to do all of them. The advantage of performing the experiments is that it increases the likelihood that you’ll remember how you’ve done them, unlike if you’ve just read the procedures.

12. Take your minors seriously.

Even though Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry have the greatest weights in your grade, it doesn’t mean that you’ll just forget about your minors. Mind you, if you fail a minor subject, you are not eligible to proceed to the next level.  Some of my classmates would only be studying the minor subjects only 2 hours before the exam. If you have incredible memory, then go by all means. But if not, try to study for your minors first before going to the major subjects. That’s what I personally do and I think it works, hopefully it will for you too. By putting also some effort for your minor subjects, you would also be doing the next tip. 🙂

13. Aim for exemptions.

You can get exempted from taking the final examinations of minor subjects (except for PDR, everyone will take the PDR finals). It is really helpful if you’re exempted because that means more study time for the major subjects. Yay! 🙂 Usually if you can secure a grade of 85 (2.0) and above for minor subjects and Physio (Yup, Physio dept’s the only major subject that gives exemption; don’t even expect for the other two to have such), then you’re a sure candidate for exemption. Here’s a guide to monitor your grades:

97 – 100 = 1.00

94 – 96 = 1.25

91 – 93 = 1.50

88 – 90 = 1.75

85 – 87 = 2.00

83 – 84 = 2.25

80 – 82 = 2.50

77 – 79 = 2.75

75 – 76 = 3.00

14. Give your 100% during ICS,

Remember to put your best foot forward during Integrative Case Study (ICS). It is an activity wherein you’ll be given a case and then you’ll identify learning issues that you need to address to better understand the patient’s situation. Make sure you actively contribute to the discussion during the opening and closing session as this is an activity that would encompass your grade across the three majors. And mind you that 10% can really pull your grade up or down. Bring visual aids if possible, or anything that would help facilitate everyone’s understanding better.

15. Sleep before you take exams.

Do not ever take an exam without any decent sleep. Please help yourself. That wouldn’t bring you any good. You wouldn’t want to fall asleep in the middle of taking the exam and then cram in the last few minutes when you wake up. It’s a horrible feeling. If staying up late for cramming is really unavoidable, make sure to have at least 3-5 hours of sleep. But never without it, please.

16. Do well on your 1st LEs.

When I was a freshie, I asked some upperclassmen for their advice, they told me, “Galingan mo na 1st LE pa lang.” And true enough, first long exams are the easiest (except for the Nutrition part (4th or 5th LE I think), that’s the easiest for Biochem 🙂 ).  And that is something that you would only appreciate later on as you take the succeeding LEs. So secure a good grade by acing your first long exams, and of course, it would be nice if you’ll always strive to ace your exams. 🙂

17. Reward yourself every after exams.

After the LEs, you should reward yourself with all of the hard work that you have done by eating out with friends, watching movies or your favorite series, going to spa or the much awaited sleeping on your comfy bed.

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🙂

Whatever it is, you should have something to look forward too. 🙂 It also helps you become motivated to get things done. As early as now, start practicing delayed gratification.

18. Budget your allowance.

Most of your allowance will be spent for food, I tell you, especially if you live in a place where cooking is not allowed. If you’re in a tight budget, you can always tell your friends to eat in a less expensive place. If you have some spare, it wouldn’t hurt to lavish yourself with some good food once in a while. 🙂 And of course, you just have to watch out what you eat. Too much of anything in your tummy won’t be of any good to your health. Then there’s also your budget for laundry, your groceries, your photocopying expenses, and the like.

19. Don’t feel bad if you’ve flunked the exam.

I’m telling you right now that it’s okay to have a failing score. I guess it’s pretty normal once in a while. What’s more important is to reflect on why you’ve failed and try to work on that aspect later on. Did you lack the effort in studying? Were you distracted when you were studying? Did you fail to cover all of the topics? Did you fall asleep in the middle of the exam and ran out of time in answering? Remember that failure is just an event. Failure is never a person.

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So don’t feel that bad, know that you can always do better next time. 🙂

20. Join organizations.

I do believe that medical students are talented people. Your batch is filled with dancers, singers, writers, athletes, musicians, and leaders; you just have yet to see them. If you are one, don’t be afraid to join organizations of your choice. If you are worrying about how it would affect your study schedule, you don’t have to. If you really love doing something (i.e., singing, dancing, playing basketball, being involved in socio-civic issues, etc.), making time for it is out of the question. Plus, it would make you a holistic person! Keep in mind that there’s more to med school than just studying! 🙂

21. Take note of your ‘firsts’.

You’ll be doing a lot of ‘firsts’ in med school (i.e., first dissection of cadaver, first taking of blood pressure, first blood extraction, first ‘tuli’ mission etc). Putting them in your planner or in your journal would make your road to MD a memorable one. Personally, this is also a habit of mine. It just makes me feel proud of what I have come to accomplish whenever flip back the pages of my planner/journal. 🙂

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22. Take a lot of photos.

You will be a sophomore student in no time. And this is no joke. Later on you’ll find yourself saying that time passes by so fast. And you can’t remember already how you were doing last school year. My advice to you is to take a lot of photos.

Take photos of your seatmates while they’re asleep, your group mates during ICS, your classmates during Biochem forums, your friends when you guys eat out, and the like.

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KO. 🙂

One biochem forum freshies should look forward to. :)

One biochem forum freshies should look forward to. 🙂

Start collecting memories that you would want to keep. 🙂

In addition, you should also take more pictures of your Histo specimens and Gross Anatomy structures as you would only get to see them for a limited period of time (i.e., available histo boxes of slides change per LEs, and gross anatomy structures degrade overtime). But let me remind you that you should treat your cadavers with respect. It is not appropriate to have cadaver/gross specimen photos posted on your social media accounts. You should only use those photos for the sole purpose of learning and not as something to brag about to other people. Please remember that.

23. Make an effort to know your classmates more.

Until now, I still do not know all of my classmates’ names. But I make an effort to know them once I encounter them. I start by introducing myself, asking their names, and warning them beforehand that I’m bad with names so I might forget but I would probably guess a letter or two of their names correctly, about 50% of the time (i.e., Alam ko may letter (insert letter here) yung name mo e). Don’t be shy to start the conversation. Practice your people skills as this would be pretty useful come patient interaction later on. You could start the convo by asking them on how they study, the subject that they really find interesting, their usual eating place or what their PDR color is, hahaha! 🙂

24. Enjoy med school.

When I was still working as a research assistant, I was fond of asking for some advice from the doctors whom I have worked with. All of them told me one thing in common, “Enjoy med”. True enough, I really did enjoy the past school year. 🙂 When people ask me how my first year was, some of them were taken aback when I say that I really enjoyed it. It was like they were expecting my answer to be something like, it was stressful, it was hard etc. They probably thought I was too bright that I found it easy but I’m not, and mind you, it wasn’t that easy. But my understanding is that, the hardship – it’s already given the very moment I entered med school. It’s like a package that you cannot get away with one without the other. To simply put, I cannot have that MD at the end of my name without working hard for it and without undergoing the difficult process. And it was a conscious decision, something that I wasn’t forced to do, something that I have accepted, something that I have chosen. In a vernacular way of saying it, “Ginusto ko ‘to”. More so, it is a dream. I constantly remind myself that this is the journey of being someone who I really wanted to be. This is it! 🙂 What’s not to enjoy when you get to see your dream unfolding right before your very eyes? Right? Remember, no matter how rigorous it may seem, there are things that would make you enjoy med school. You just have to open your eyes to such realization. 🙂

25. Pray. ❤

Most importantly, you need to pray. Pray for guidance as you start and end your day. Pray for the wisdom to understand the things you have to learn for the day. Pray for friends who will keep you sane. Pray for classmates who are in the same phase as you are. Pray for your family who has always been rooting for you. Pray for good health despite lack of sleep and stress and inadequate fruit/vegetable intake. Pray for strength to deliver whatever it is that is required of you. Pray for courage to get back after a failure. Pray for peace of mind. Pray for renewed spirit. Pray for an enduring heart.

Pray.

Pray.

Yes, medicine is hard. The succeeding years of your life will be nothing but further hardships. But those are nothing to a God who continuously provides you the strength, courage and wisdom you need to withstand all odds. Believe that once God has tapped you to be where you are right now, He will bring you through it. You just have to put your trust in Him and believe that things are going well according to His plans. 🙂

 

This entry might be a bit lengthy but I hope that you found it worth reading. Good luck on our first long exams! Let’s all give our best! See you around! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “25 Tips for UERM Med Freshies

  1. Additional Tip: 🙂
    You NEED NOT BUY all of the recommended books, even if they will give out a paper with a list of ‘required books’ to buy. You don’t. E-books will do. And if you can’t handle eye strain, you can always go to the library to borrow some books. Because honestly, as much as I would want to read my books, most of the time I ran out of time to do so, thus, I ended up only reading the transcription of the lectures. But if you insist, you may buy Moore for Anatomy and Berne and Levy or Ganong for Physiology. PLEASE, DON’T BUY A BOOK FOR BIOCHEMISTRY. TRUST ME. You don’t have to. But if you are only to prioritize one book, that would definitely be Netter (Atlas of Human Anatomy). Most used book, in my opinion. 🙂

    Like

  2. What are the criteria for exemption in Physiology? What if I got 85 above ave but I failed one of my LEs? Will I still be a candidate for exemption? Thank you.

    Like

      • What do you mean by exempted? Does it mean you’d get an automatic 100% score for the next exam?

        Like

      • Hi, Aezy! Nope, that’s not how it works. By exempted, it means you have the option if you still want to take the exam or not. If not, the percentage for your final exam will not be included in the computation of your grade. 🙂

        Like

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