|Image from Google Images|
The subject of Anatomy, to me, seems very boring, dry, and sometimes hard because of the boring nature of the subject. Unfortunately, the question banks don’t really give enough images to fully grasp the anatomical figures in the questions. You probably heard that Anatomy subject is low-yield, but don’t count on it. The Anatomy subject should be given a good amount of attention, especially CT scans. Neuroanatomy is very high-yield and you should be familiar with the overall picture of the brain. Questions can give you a scenario of a dysfunction of a patient, and they may ask you which part of the brain contains the nucleus that is damaged that caused the dysfunction.
The best way for me to grasp Anatomy is to look at the body in all angles. For example, I had a hard time to distinguish the cricothyroid muscle from the other surrounding muscles because the images online doesn’t show an isolated picture of the target muscle. I’m a visual person so, picturing the anatomical structure helps in me answering questions. For example, horseshoe kidney is fused at the inferior poles in Turner Syndrome patients, and it cannot ascend because the inferior mesenteric artery stops it. I had to imagine that in order to grasp the concept.
I found 3D Human Anatomy Atlas 2 by Visible Body; it is a software for both PC and Mac. It’s also an app which is also available for iPhone and iPad users on the Apple App Store and Android users on Google Play store.. The App is incredible and it’s one of the top-rated medical app on the Apple App Store. If you don’t have a tablet, you can still get the computer-based software; however, navigating via a tablet makes things more efficient. The software allows you to rotate the anatomical figures in 360 degrees position so you can see the anatomical figure in all angles. Also if you have an organ or tissue that is blocking the view of your target anatomical structures then you can either fade is or hide it from view. The app also allows you to take screen capture and share it with others. I used the software to draw out the figure for a previous post, Adrenal Glands – First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. If you have the iPad with retina display, the app takes advantage of the sharp display and shows it with incredible precision. The app costs about $40 for the iPad; I’m not sure about the prices for other platforms. When I bought a MacBook Pro with a student discount, I was given a $100 Apple gift card, which I used to buy the app.
Anyways, studying anatomy just from pictures is hard, and I prefer to study smart not hard so, I invested the money in getting what I need to study better. I recommend 3D Human Anatomy Atlas 2 by Visible Body for everybody, especially for people who are visually oriented learners. This study tool worked for me, but I can’t guarantee that it’ll work for you, but try it and see.
Most of us students are not morning people, and I can tell you from experience, that studying at night works best for me. However, studying in the morning is the best because you’ll have full of energy. Some of you probably feel tired in the morning, well that could be for two reasons which clearly would lead to tiredness right after awakening. First, if you didn’t get at least 7-8 hours of “consecutive” sleep then you will not feel well. When I say consecutive, I mean sleeping continuously sleeping without waking up in the middle of the night. Second reasons deals with over sleeping; if you over sleep then you will feel tired. Oversleeping can lead to tiredness because you glycogen stores will be depleted. Remember if you sleep for 10 hours or so, which means you haven’t eaten anything within that time frame so your body has little to no energy.
How to Charge Up for Studying
1. Jogging or other Cardio Workout
Jog in the Morning for 20 minutes; or walk and jog together in 30 minutes. Jogging in the morning is better than taking in all that caffeine which will irritate your stomach and make you urinate more often than normal. Jogging will also help you in vasodilating your cerebral arteries so more oxygen will enter your brain. More oxygen will allow for more metabolism of neurons.
2. Take a Good Shower
This should be obvious for everyone, but to some people it’s not. One of my friends in another state is studying and he told me he didn’t take a shower for over 2 days. As disgusting as it sounds, it’s reality, and common among some medical students. You have to take a shower in the morning to clear off the accumulated oil and to wake your self up. In the obvious sense, you should take a shower after jogging.
Take a multivitamin pill everyday; this is something some people take for granted. Multivitamins are highly important because it has all the co-factors that are required in producing the neurotransmitters and other biochemistry functions, which are important in helping in focusing and enhancing memory and other body chemical reactions.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Fish Oil
Take 1000 mg of Fish Oil daily, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in combination. Omega-3 Fatty acid is very helpful in myelination of neurons for faster brain processing and photographic memory. As you will study that increasing in myelination will lead to increase in space constant. Space constant measures how far along an axon an electrical impulse will travel. So in simple terms, increasing your space constant will allow you to think faster.
Warning: Do not over consume Fish oil. Fish oils are natural blood thinners, so don’t take it with aspirin or other NSAIDs. Also, buy the quality fish oil so it will be cleared off mercury. Cheap fishoils are no good as they have little omega-3 fatty acids with no significance. I tried a lot of those capsule fish oil and they stink and they were a waste. So I tried a pure form with lemon flavor; I usually ordered the Carlson The Very Finest Fish Oil; and it works! However, if you are near a Vitamin Shoppe store you can get their store brand for $7 less.
5. Ripe Bananas
You would be surprised how well ripe bananas can help; it has a good concentration of tyramine. When you study the autonomic pharmacology section you will learn about tyramine and how in helps in neurostimulation. Ripe bananas will definately wake you up.
USMLE Step 1 Fact: Tyramine is high in wine and in cheese, patients who take selegiline, a selective monoamino oxidase inhibitor type B, will have an emergency hypertension reaction.
What I mentioned will work for everyone if done consistently. Don’t expect it to help you right away, give it couple of days to see a significant difference. I have tried so many methods of studying in the morning and the best method for me is what I mentioned; try it and see if it works for you.