With the large volume of study required for medical school, it's a wonder that it even gets done. Some students are night people and study after the kids are in bed. Others are morning people and hit the books at 5am before the school run begins.
Here are some strategies used by different student moms.
- Anytime, anyplace, anywhere! Carry a book or notes with you at all times. You can sit learning drug names while waiting for your coffee or appointment. A group of moms used to meet at a local ball pit for group study sessions, studying while the kids played. Moms soon adjust to noise levels, think of it as good practice for focusing when there are many distractions nearby. Not wanting to advocate studying while driving, but one mom taped formula sheets over her car and when there was a red light, she would quickly read one and test herself on whether she could remember it at the next stop. (Of course, be safe and don't break the law!)
- Short and sweet - Don't rule out half-an-hour study sessions. You may feel that you need a long session to learn, but you'll be amazed what you can learn in 30 minutes. Thirty minute blocks of study here and there soon add up.
- Take breaks - allow yourself 15 minute breaks after about 50 minutes of study. When you start re-reading the same thing over and over again, or your mind wanders - take a break. Put the laundry on, do a quick household chore, check email, do some yoga or glance at a trashy magazine. Do whatever you like, as long as you keep it to 15 minutes or so. You'll return refreshed and your brain will be alert again.
- Make Your Study Area Yours - wherever you are, make sure that your study area is comfortable and has what you need close by. Get the books you need, pens, calculator etc. That way when you have time to study you won't waste it sorting out your study area or getting distracted.
- Plan - organize what you need to do. Any assignments that must be done by a specific date get them done first. Some moms do them immediately just in case a child gets sick or some other crisis occurs. You can be way ahead of the game! Leaving things till the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Sort out which topics most need your attention. Make sure the subjects you dislike get more attention than those that you love! You could learn anatomy like a pro and fail biochemistry because you never quite got around to learning the dreaded citric acid cycle! The disliked topics often have a habit of showing up in exams.
- Don't be too hard on yourself. Time and time again we hear medical student moms wishing that they could do better, get more work done and get higher scores. Remember, you have sooo much more going on that other students. Don't compare your grades with others; just be happy with what you have. A pass is a pass! When the going gets tough, remember you can do it!
Good luck! Join us in our study methods discussion.