Learn How To Learn

Medical school. Inundating us with knowledge. Some of which is interesting. A lot of which is tedious. All of which is important.

Yet in the course of medical education, it seems that we’re still forgetting to instill a very fundamental principle – the art of “learning how to learn.” Medicine is ever changing and the general fund of knowledge is doubling at an astronomical rate. In fact, I have to accept that much of what I learned in the basic sciences a year ago is either flat out wrong or obsolete information. That’s pretty scary. 😯 How can one possibly manage to stay up to date?

Simple – med students need more concepts and less content. By learning how to learn… actually knowing which resources to consult to get our evidence-based answers and sifting through extraneous information to find relevant information… the pursuit of new knowledge becomes far simpler.

In my limited experience, clinicians are much better at emphasizing this form of learning compared to their doctorate counterparts. While both are undoubtedly important components to the healthcare system, clinicians and researchers focus on very different details. These inconsistencies make it difficult for medical students to ascertain what information is “high yield” for diagnosing and treating patients versus impressing their research mentors.

How do we best ask new medical students to learn an inconceivable amount of human biology in 1-2 years? You teach them how to learn!

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  1. Very interesting post Rishi! I would guess that having medical schools incorporate clinical work, from day one, in parallel with a systems-based science curriculum might help give students a foothold to discern what’s important. Just my thoughts! 🙂


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