Sunday, June 2, 2013

Why I Ended Up Liking Things I Don't Like

One surprising and interesting part of first year was finding out which classes I enjoyed. The list turned out to be completely impossible to predict. I ended up loving the classes I thought I’d hate (Micro) and not enjoying the classes I thought I’d love (Anatomy, Neuro). I don’t think that my interests are actually that far off from what I expected. Instead, I think that the syllabus, course structure, lecturers, and communication end up being much more important than the content. (As evidenced by the fact that I love reading about neurology and anatomy.)

Lets start with the syllabus. In med school, at least every one I’m familiar with, you don’t really have textbooks; you get a syllabus for each course, which is written by the lecturers and is hundreds of pages long. You’re responsible for the entire content of the syllabus for each exam, down to the most minute comments, figures, and captions. In other words: if the syllabus is awful, the class is awful. There’s no getting around it. I had more than one class where the syllabi were TERRIBLEfull of typos, redundancies, self-contradictions, blatant errors, grammatical errors, figures that contradicted the text, etc. It’s a real bummer when there are so many typos in a single sentence that it takes you 20 minutes to even guess what a lecturer was trying to say.

(Note: if a syllabus is just unreadable, you can always use BRS instead and just accept the fact that you will miss questions over whatever minutia BRS doesn’t cover.)

Beyond the syllabus, general lack of communication and clarity in a course can really bring me down. For example, constantly changing the grading criteria (unless it’s a change that benefits everyone) or failing to provide study resources. These things make me angrier than they probably should (HE INCREASED THE WEIGHT OF THE TEST BY 0.5%! KILL THE BEAST!), but hey—I strategize! I study more for exams that are weighted heavier. I don’t think it’s very cool to pull the rug out from under your students.

Look, med school is one of the few times where course content is actually difficult. Undergrad was mostly an issue of time management; it was rarely difficult for my brain to actually comprehend biology. Nerve tracts, the actions of extraocular muscles, every single developmental anatomy image, HIV, and cardiac pressure-volume loops are another story. When my brain is struggling to make sense of something, a typo or confusing email is certainly not going to help. 

So, in other words I like clear communicationthrough  email, in lectures, and in the syllabusNO SURPRISES. I’ll enjoy any course that meets this criterion, even underwater basket weaving. 

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