I’m back! For those of you keeping track, this is my first post since July 4th. I’ve been so buried in my school work that I just didn’t have the brain power to put together any blog posts. Not only did I have to learn how to be a student again, but this was my first experience doing it online, while utilizing extra programs required to lockdown our computers and make sure we weren’t cheating. But I‘m not going to get into that. No, this is about the surprising life lesson I learned from the different studying techniques that got me through this exhausting summer session.

The two classes testing my memory skills were Medical Terminology and Public Health. Most of my mental power went to memorizing hundreds of medical terms. At least that was the goal. Since this was a summer class, the schedule was much more intense because a full semester’s worth of class had to be condensed into 8 weeks. 

What I learned the hard way is that there are two ways to study:

1. Memorizing flash cards: This was the approach for my Medical Terminology class. In fact, our instructor even created pdfs he called ‘flashcards’ for us to study. It really helped simplify what we needed to study.

Print outs of just two chapters of flashcards.

That was the good news. The bad news, there were over a hundred terms to learn…for one chapter! We typically had to study 3 chapters per week. And the musculoskeletal system had over 200! Nevertheless, I had my moments when I caught on and got it right.

Screen shots of two of my many quiz results.

And then other times this happened…

Yep, I got it wrong. Not because I didn’t know the term, but because I didn’t make it plural! Gotta love the details! So when it came to my Public Health class I made sure to know the details before my midterm. That‘s when I learned about technique number two…

2. Reading and absorbing information: After receiving a disappointing ‘C’ on my Public Health midterm, I had a chat with my professor, and she told me that memorizing flash cards was the wrong approach. Would have been helpful to know this before the exam! She went on to say that it’s best to read through the material and understand the concepts, as well as ask questions. Why is this happening? Who does it affect? And so on. Theoretically, learning information this way should remain in my long term memory, so I can remember the information when I take the exam. And it worked! I did much better on the final. Although, looking back at my old quiz results, I‘m realizing I didn’t retain a lot of what I learned back then.

I guess it was just too much to cram into my brain in such a short period of time.

At the end of these very intense 8 weeks, I got an 84.67% in my Medical Terminology class, and an 87.8% in my Public Health class. Not to shabby for someone who hasn’t been in school since my nutrition class in 2006!

My long winded point to all this, is that I learned how to be discerning with my study techniques based on how these classes were taught. In the process, I couldn’t help but see the real life parallels with communicating in conversation. Sometimes the flash card techniques will work, particularly in the office when it’s just about the facts. How much, when, where? Just get the job done! Other times, it’s more of a conversational approach that’s required. Going slow, listening, observing, asking engaging questions that moves the conversation towards the point of building a connection. It really comes down to communication, and how to do it most effectively with the people you‘re with, or the teacher that‘s grading you.

Now, I’m going to finish enjoying my short summer break. Hope you get a chance to enjoy the break as well! Take care.

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