Thursday, September 20, 2007

Failing

It's one thing to study hard for and subsequently fail an exam. Perhaps the material was exceptionally challenging for you. Fine. You get help, change your study methods, move on to the next exam. It's quite another -- stupid really -- when you just didn't prepare well enough.

I didn't prepare well for my exam this week. It's as simple as that. As I was expecting, I did not do well. In fact, I failed by 4 points (66 -- yes, why not just put it out there) -- a "High Fail" as a classmate would say. It doesn't feel good, but there's no one to blame but myself.

Last week's procrastination was a textbook example of self-sabotage. I'm not exactly sure why I had such a hard time getting to my work, but, at the time, I knew it was a problem. One of my impulse buys on Wednesday or Thursday was a self-help book: Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to go from thinking to doing, by Theodore Bryant, MSW. It coincidently arrived today, shortly after I received my score. I've only read Part One, but already I have a good idea of what my mental blocks are. Don't worry, hon. I'll write all the juicy details in a future post.

For now, perhaps a little tease: (1) At times I tend to have a very negative internal dialog, (2) I think I have a Fear of Success.

So, I will be working on that to avoid repeatedly shooting myself in the foot. There's one more major exam in this unit and I'm confident I can pull my grade up. I've done it in the past, and I'll do it again. However, some things are going to have to change, principally, no more staying home nor going home to "study" after class. It's the library and lecture hall for me. I'm putting myself on lockdown.

Now, some of you may be asking, What happens if you fail the unit?

At my school, you're allowed to sit for a retake examination for that unit at the beginning of the following semester or at the end of the school year. I believe you're only allowed to sit for two retake examinations, so if you fail three units (integrated blocks) within a semester, you can only make up two. If you fail the retake examinations, you have to do summer school, an extremely condensed version of the unit (up to 2 -- so if you need to make up 3 units, you're out) and then sit for a cumulative exam. If you fail that, you are asked to leave.

Once you're asked to leave, you may petition to repeat the year, but I believe it's difficult because you have to wait for a spot to open. Recently, the class sizes have increased a tad, so there are very few spots available for students who need to repeat. Once you begin again as a repeating student, however, summer school is no longer an option. If you fail the retake examinations, you're out for good. But, you see that you get to make about 5 attempts before they kick you out.

Medical schools want you to succeed, so there should be an "Academic Support" department available to you. Use it! Early and often! Even if you're doing OK, but want to be in the top 10. They can give you strategies that may help improve your academic performance. Their favorite tip (and my least favorite): make a schedule.

[P.S. I just took a look back at the Failed post. Looks like "near future" = a little more than a month. Gotta love med school.]

9 comments:

Harry said...

we've been having lectures all week on how you shouldn't fail and must be diligent and what not.

i didn't think anything of it until he said "last week I had to tell 9 first year medics that they aren't going to be doctors"

DC Med Student said...

Oh yeah. There are certainly those that don't make it. I remember during my freshman (or fresher, as you say) orientation we were told, "Look to your left and then to your right. . . There's a good chance one of the three of you won't become physicians -- Welcome!"

Failure, however, is not an option. Study smart!

DC Med Student said...

Oh yeah. There are certainly those that don't make it. I remember during my freshman (or fresher, as you say) orientation we were told, "Look to your left and then to your right. . . There's a good chance one of the three of you won't become physicians -- Welcome!"

Failure, however, is not an option.

Study smart!

stinky said...

Ouch, sounds like you ran into a wall there. Let's pick it up and pass the next test.

You don't sound discouraged. That's a good thing.

The constant exams are hard to bear. The pace of second year is incredible. Like you said in the previous post, it is hard to be "on" all the time.

You can learn a lot from failure. I suggest you remember this feeling and try your damnedest to never have this feeling again.

Heh, the word "should" in your last paragragh carries for me a ton of meaning.

Good luck

DC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DC Med Student said...

Thanks, Stinky. I appreciate the support!

The Lone Coyote said...

Don't sweat it too much. A lot of people blow an exam or two during the first 2 years. And I can say now, though I did not believe it at the time, the first two years of med school are not that relevant to your residency applications. Just try to work when you can and don't beat yourself up for not working.

My keys to success in 2nd year Pathology were frequent use of the Webpath site @ U of Utah, the Robbins Review of Path question book, and some Goljan audio when driving. We also had "learning objectives" and I would read in big Robbins and take notes to learn the key characteristics of each major disease. It's a lot but if you can come at it in the same systematic way for each disease and do a lot of repetition, you will get it down. Hand in there, this too shall pass.

DC Med Student said...

TLC: thanks for the encouraging words. WebPath! I can't believe I forgot about that. I even have a link to it under "Resources" in my sidebar. I forgot what a great site that is for review. Thanks for the tips!

Anesha said...

Hi Nice Blog . In this, the body is studied by regions rather than by organs. This is of importance to the surgeon who exposes different planes after the skin incision and who, of course, must be perfectly familiar with structures as he explores the limbs andHuman Anatomy studycavities.