The human mind is well-suited to remembering stories, but awful for remembering long lists of facts with no emotional import. In particular, the human mind remembers where items in a place or image are located extremely well, particularly if what’s in the picture has a strong emotional impact.* This fundamental property of the human mind makes a lot of traditional sources used in medical school dreadful for learning the material; case-based learning is much better. Additionally, this is the reason why Sketchy Micro is so useful.

When you’re wading through a long, boring list of conditions in First Aid and you can’t remember one of them, give yourself a story to pin the disease onto. Head over to YouTube and type in the name of the disease. Try to find a ~5 minute video with a patient talking about it, and crank that sucker up to 1.5x or 2x speed. Stay away from any videos that are meant to be USMLE review. Ironically, you’re much better off with a hard-hitting story about a patient and their family as opposed to another boring list of facts about the disease, and a lot of the USMLE reviews out there are very poorly-presented lists of facts. Here are a few examples of good videos to watch:

The only educational video that’s worth watching is this absolutely absurd 1 minute video on Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome and also this clever set of mnemonics for lysosomal storage disorders from a med student studying for the boards.

(H/t to my classmate G for this tip).

* Joshua Fore’s Moonwalking with Einstein offers an entertaining take on how competitive “mental athletes” use techniques like “the memory palace” that leverage this principle; Sketchy Medical and Picmonic basically use this technique.

 

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