Pick the Patients You Will Learn the Most From

Name: Christopher Adcock

Med School: UT Health San Antonio-Long School of Medicine

Year: Fourth Year*

Though he is now a fourth year, these questions were answered as a third year.

1. What is your #1 study tip?

A time management plan is 100% more important than what you choose to study. After your first semester of preclinical years, you should hopefully have an idea of “how you study” i.e. lectures, videos, questions, etc. Once you know what works well for you, you need to have a plan with the essential resources you want to cover and the amount of time you have to study before your exam. If you know those two pieces, you know exactly how much you need to study per day to accomplish your study goals.

2. How do you keep yourself motivated or get out of study ruts?

I focus on what is most important to me — my family. As a new father, I know that every minute I’m studying at home is a minute I am losing with my wife and daughter. Identify what is most important to you outside of school and commit time during your week to that. You are made up of so much more than your grades during medical school. If you live that out every day, you will have plenty of motivation to study efficiently and preserve your “non-school” time.

3. What does your daily study schedule look like?

Once I know how much ground I have to cover per day, I start chipping away as early as I can in the morning. My schedule varies, but I may start the day listening to review lectures on my commute and start a question set on my phone to do 1–2 questions at a time throughout the day. If I get through my material, I have no worries by the time I get home in the evening. If I’m really efficient, I “reward” myself and listen to a non-medical audiobook on the way back home.

4. What would your classmates be most surprised to learn about you?

My classmates would be surprised to know that every former college athlete does not automatically end up applying to Orthopedics! I joke, but that stereotype has stuck with me for almost three years now. My classmates would actually be surprised by how much time I spend on other commitments outside of medical school. With the strategy I outlined above, I am able to spend time with my family, serve in my local church weekly, and still manage to keep up with a couple hobbies to maintain my sanity.

5. Who are your mentors?

My dad and my brother. My dad is a family physician in my hometown. I didn’t take advantage of getting to know what he really did on a daily basis for his patients, but at this point in my training, I am really starting to realize how much he truly cares for his patients. It shows when I shadow him now as his patients cannot help but say how much he cares about them and takes time to know them.

My brother has a similar background as I do being a former college football player. Instead of medical school, he is currently finishing his law degree. He has been a great example of establishing priorities outside of his education and using solid time management skills to accomplish his academic goals. His multiple accomplishments outside of his law degree constantly challenge me to pursue my dreams outside of medicine. “

6. What would you been doing if you weren’t in medical school?

I would own my own insurance agency. I enjoy the gratification of making business decisions and seeing results.

7. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in medical school?

Be yourself. People can see through any facade you try to put up to impress them. I find that medical school, especially the clinical years, are much more enjoyable if you simply be yourself and focus on learning by being a productive part of the team. Attendings and residents don’t need the smartest person, but I think they enjoy a genuine one who is willing to work hard and acknowledge their weaknesses.

8. What was your most memorable “first” experience in medical school?

The first time I worked a night shift with fellow classmates. Some of the best memories I have at work are the late night hours where a certain amount of delirium sets in and everything becomes funny and anything sounds good to eat.

9. How can medical students better support each other inside and outside the classroom?

Spend time with each other not talking about medical school. The most memorable times I will have with medical school classmates will not be the hours we spent studying for anatomy practicals or written exams, but the times we got together to share a meal, catch a concert, or just take a break to watch TV. It took a long time in first and second year to get together and not talk about our last test or confusing lecture, but once we did, getting together was a way to relax versus another thing to worry about.

10. If you’ve started rotations, which rotation has been your favorite? Is it what you expected it would be?

Anesthesia. I love being in the OR and the instant gratification of the decisions that are made “behind the curtain.” I had a decently good idea of what to expect after being a student anesthesia tech during my second year, but my rotation confirmed a lot of what I thought I liked about anesthesia.

11. How do you use virtual lectures?

I use OnlineMedED at the beginning of most rotations to review the pathology I learned for STEP1 and set up the framework for my studying on the wards.

12. How was the experience of transitioning to the wards?

I thought it was an easy transition. I started on Emergency Medicine which was a very broad exposure to different medical pathology. I finished my first semester with the “heavy hitters,” IM and Surgery. I embraced the challenge of those 16 weeks and feel like I matured as a clinical thinker the most over that period.

13. What patient will you never forget?

I’ll always remember the internal medicine patient who I would spend time with after rounds. He was admitted for a drug-related infection. I was really drawn to his commitment to remain sober. As a third-year student following only a few patients, you have a lot of time to spend with your individual patients, but you have to choose to spend time with them or you quickly get caught up in other aspects of the day. In the short time I spent with that patient, I found out a lot about his background and motivation to get clean. He was the most gracious patient I have experienced on the wards.

14. What is the best advice a resident/attending gave you?

Pick the patients you will learn the most from or find most interesting. Early in third year, I found myself picking patients based on how much I thought it would help the team or resident who was in charge of the team. I voiced that line of thinking within earshot of my attending and he quickly reset my thinking. Your job as a clinical student is to learn. Pick the patients that you find interesting and learn everything about them and their pathology and management plan. That in itself is helpful to the team.

15. Do you have any tips for being on-call?

Embrace the experience. Bring plenty of food and caffeine. Sleep before if you can, but don’t overdo it. Do not oversleep after call. Force yourself to wake up or you won’t sleep the next night and your whole week of sleep is off.

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