Using SketchyMedical during Clinical Year


After finishing my institution’s preclinical curriculum and finishing Step 1, I figured I wouldn’t use many of the same resources again to study for rotations or Step 2. I used many resources familiar to medical students, including SketchyMedical. As a second year student, I had SketchyMicro and SketchyPharm, which are primarily Step 1 study resources. We didn’t have SketchyMedical for Step 2, the resources you young whippersnappers have today. Nor did we have the post-recall quizzes! SketchyMedical was still a newcomer to the study resources scene and older students told me that they only used SketchyMedical resources for Step 1.

In contrast, I retained so much of the information in the videos after Step 1, that I couldn’t let that information go to waste. “How could I integrate Sketchy into my clinical shelf exams and Step 2 studying?” I asked myself. I came up with a strategy to use SketchyMedical before, during, and after each rotation throughout my clinical year.

Before each rotation

Casually rewatching videos - I knew some of the videos pretty well, but I would watch through the ones I felt less confident with. Since I had viewed each video multiple times in the preclinical curriculum and Step 1 studying, this wasn’t as rigorous as my first view of a video.

During each rotation

Active recall - I knew that to improve my test scores, I needed to have a more active recall. I noticed there were certain videos I still had difficulty recalling. I used Anki, but you should use whatever active recall resource that works best for you. I put the memory hooks of SketchyMedical into Anki without pictures. Over the course of the clinical year, I made thousands of cards. Some people like to use pre-made cards, but I learn best by making my own. This is why I stress using whatever active recall resource that works best for you.

Passive review - After Step 1, I became a fan of passive learning. Passive learning allowed me to save my mental energy while learning or recalling tiny bits of information. Since SketchyMedical primarily has videos, I tried to visualize the videos being sketched as I listened to them in the car. If I felt comfortable with the video, I would move on. If not, then I would try to learn each detail of the video at a later time.

Getting asked questions by the professor aka “pimping” - Most students I knew used SketchyMedical, so when our professor asked us questions to test our knowledge, I always mentioned one or two bits of information from the SketchyMedical video. Then, I gave others the opportunity to add to the discussion. If I wasn’t familiar with what they said, I knew I should go revisit the video. This strategy not only helped us look educated but also coordinated as a team because each student shared the same baseline knowledge.

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Studying in the hospital - Most hospital areas have some study space for students. If you are at a desktop computer, you can put your laptop next to your desktop and reference the SketchyMedical sketches as you help residents put in orders or write notes. If you have a tablet, you can be discreet about referencing SketchyMedical sketches as you round. In lengthy surgeries, I would often review the sketches in my head and see if I could recall each hotspot. After the surgery finished, I would reference the sketch on my phone or in the workroom for a few seconds.

After each rotation

I usually wouldn’t reference SketchyMedical videos related to another clerkship until Step 2 studying. At this point, I already had thousands of active recall cards, with many of those referencing SketchyMedical. If I still had difficulty with a video’s information, I would often re-use the same active recall card and reference the SketchyMedical sketch. In addition, at a couple points during my Step 2 studying, I would casually flip through all of the SketchyMedical sketches and review those I was not familiar with.

During my main medical school years, I didn’t get to fully know SketchyPath or SketchyIM but am curious to see how students have perceived these videos.

Do you think my strategies would be useful for you? How do you think you can use SketchyMedical as a study aid during clerkships and Step 2 studying? Comment below! I look forward to reading your responses.

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Barrington Hwang