The Guilt of Becoming a Better Student (How I Found My Study Style With Osmosis)
Published on Aug 21, 2020. Updated on Mar 13, 2023.
Here at Osmosis, we believe in helping students learn in a way that makes them better students and enjoy learning. Read how one medical student overcame his dissatisfaction towards medical school, and reignited his passion for learning with the help of Osmosis.
When thinking back on my past two years of medical school, I remember a whole lot of different emotions that came up while sitting through my prehospital years. There was the excitement sitting down on day one with so many new faces, the fear of drowning in content that everyone seemed to already know, the frustration of slides not being posted, but most importantly there was guilt. Guilt in so many forms. Guilt of not having read slides in advance, guilt of not asking good questions, guilt of checking Facebook instead of physiology, all of which ultimately made me feel guilty for being, for the first time in my life, someone who didn’t love learning.
Or so I thought.
For me, starting medical school was a tough adjustment
Maybe I’m an enigma, but I don’t think I’m alone in having entered medical school bright eyed and bushy-tailed excited to love what I was learning, just like I had in my previous degree. Instead, I was crushed by the fire hose of knowledge that is medicine.
I’d loved everything in undergrad—learning the minute details of the Krebs cycle seemed cool even without knowing the “real” value of it, but somehow the lifesaving information I was being pelted with in medical school was killing me with boredom.
That’s what made me feel the worst—that lack of pleasure in learning. Was this a sign that I wasn’t the right kind of person for medicine? I had that fear daily, but I continued to grind through hours of lecture becoming more and more disgruntled that I wasn’t loving my learning.
While not dissipating, my guilt evolved as I stopped reviewing lectures, opting to read or watch video summaries online instead of slogging through 150 slides. Now I wasn’t just a bad person for intrinsically not loving my learning, but I was showing it externally by skipping lectures and ignoring what the objectives stated were important.
How finding a mentor changed my perspective
Luckily, I had a helpful upper year mentor who helped me understand my feelings and recognize that I hadn’t changed, school had! Trying to force my old expectations of school and learning onto medicine would only disappoint me. Thanks to the background of an intense medical school curriculum, what I realized was that I needed to become a better student, in a way that suited me, even if no one was telling me that was the right thing to do. Evolve my learning.
In undergrad, I had sloughed through classes the way you were supposed to, and managed to find ways of forcing in how I liked to learn, like writing essays and short answer explanations about chemical reactions. However, in medical school there isn’t time to waste. You have to learn more efficiently.
When I realized that, I became a lot less guilty about having stopped attending lectures and instead reviewing content, like videos and flashcards on Osmosis.org, that I actually enjoyed. Better yet, I didn’t feel guilty for not studying the way you’re “supposed to” in medical school, whatever that may be.
While I’d been enjoying Osmosis videos for a while, it was only after I accepted that lectures were not my way of learning that I truly began to enjoy what I was learning again.
Find the learning style that works best for you
What’s the point of me writing you a little story of the struggle I had? Well, I sincerely hope that anyone out there who has or is struggling with that same guilt finds this helpful.
That shaken confidence, feeling like you’re an impostor, you’ve changed, and you aren’t cut out for medicine eats away at you way more than long nights of studying. So for anyone reading this, please know that you do not have to feel guilty for doing what's best for your learning. You are a good student, otherwise you wouldn’t be in medical school, and I hope that you remember that hasn’t changed even if school has.
Conley Kriegler is a rising second-year medical student at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and a current participant in the Osmosis Medical Education Fellowship program. Conley takes his interest in medical education from his background with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus in cognition and developmental psychology. He is a huge fan of the outdoors including: cycling, ultimate frisbee, yoga, volleyball, and going on strolls with his labradoodle, Stella.
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