This is a very important topic to me and I would not be where I’m at today without a study group.
You can easily get lost in your own work and forget what it’s like on the outside.
It is very important to get that honest and brutal advice.
When I first came to France, I had no family here, knew no one and did not speak the language very well.
I was lost.
I met some people in a study group during my first year of medical studies and later on some of these people became my best friends and colleagues.
People who, throughout the years, have helped guide me, hold me accountable and give me advice and resources.
Every week we will get together and share our frustrations, weaknesses, strengths and how to move things to the next level.
So what is a study group?
“…a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.” – Napoleon Hill
The word “alliance” makes it look like you are at war.
You are at war with yourself and other students to become the best student in your class.
And when you form an alliance, you are more likely to conquer whatever you are trying to conquer.
There is also the planning part of it. You are not just getting together and fumbling around.
You are making plans and figuring out how to do things.
You are the average of the five people you spend your time with.
Joining or forming a study group will put you in a position to increase the overall average of who you are.
When you are with like minded people all in one space and all focused on a single goal, amazing things will happen to you.
Like going to a gym. It is hard to do it by yourself.
Maybe at first you are all excited. But after a few months, you get to that point where you come up with all sorts of excuses not to go anymore.
But when you do it with a group of people, it is much easier because of other people encouraging you and you encouraging them. This is why crossfit is such a popular sport.
I was always at my fittest and motivated to go to the gym when I had a gym partner with me.
What a study group is not
- A cult
It is not a cult. It is not something religious. It is something that is formalised.
- A gossip group
It is not a gossip group.
This is very important because most of the time when medical students get together, they are mostly into the same stuffs and they start to talk. This is human nature. You start to gossip and a lot of time can be wasted just talking.
I have been in a lot of study groups and sometimes 30 minutes will go by just talking about stupid stuffs.
You can do that with your buddies when you are not studying.
- A party
A study group is not a party!
In one of my first study groups, we met up at a friend’s house to study but end up spending most of the evening just playing games on his playstation.
It was fun but nothing ever got done.
There was no value whatsoever for the others and I.
- A pity party
You don’t meet up in a study group to cry about stuffs and how late you are in your studies.
You can bring up specific subjects that you are having trouble with but you need to do it in a professional manner.
This will help you get something out of the study group and not be a sounding board for you just to cry on.
What a study group is
A study group is a formal, structured and focused group.
It is consistent and runs on a regular basis. You can put it on your schedule and you know when it is going to happen.
It is also extremely productive in an encouraging environment.
It might not be positive for you because you will be getting brutally honest advice but it will inspire you to keep pushing forward.
It is not like with your mother, father or best friends that will sugarcoat everything and tell you only things that you want to hear and make you feel good.
You need to be brutally honest to others and others must be the same with you.
If you are slacking off and are learning things the wrong way, you need to be told so. It is not always good but it is something you need to hear.
You get accountability in a study group.
If you are behind in your review plan, you will be motivated to catch up with the others.
The others in the study group will encourage and inspire you. You will feed off each other’s success and push forward together.
You will get outside feedback because you can easily get lost in your work.
I used to get sidetrack in my studies learning complicated things that will only earn me few points in the exams. My study group buddies told me what I needed to focus on to get maximum points.
You’ll grow together and become successful together if you are in a winning medical study group.
What is a study group like?
3 people is the maximum number for a study group.
More than 3 and you won’t have enough time for each one to benefit from the study group. In 1 hour, each person will get 20 minutes.
The people in the study group must not be your friends or people you usually hang out with.
The people must share the same values and goals as you.
When I created my own study group, I looked for people who had a burning desire for success.
My number one criteria for including people in my study group was “Are they willing to do anything to be the best in class?”
My second criteria was “Are they willing to dissect and be dissected”?
If someone turns out to be easily offended and too shy to tell what he thinks the others should do, then that person was not a good fit for me and he was soon out.
If possible, always include smarter persons than you in the group. They will pull you up with them.
If not possible, then find the hardest working ones because they will in turn motivate you to work hard too.
“If you are a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, then you need to find people who is +/- 2, i.e. 3 to 7.”
If you are 5 and the other is a 10, then he or she will eventually leave the group. There is no benefit for him or her to stay. They might feel like they are not getting a lot out of it.
I was in a study group with a girl and I always felt that I was the one providing information and receiving nothing back in exchange. I eventually left to find somebody else.
The persons in the study group must be doing the same studies as you. No sense learning something that will not help you in your studies.
Structure of a medical study group
The study group needs to be only an hour long. Everybody will get 10 minutes to question the others and 10 minutes of feedback or tutoring on a difficult subject.
3 minutes —> Wins (Duration: 3 mins)
The first 3 minutes are dedicated to wins to start the study group on a positive note and to get everybody fired up.
You can talk about difficult subjects you have mastered or if you have stuck to a difficult review plan, then share it with the others.
1 minute for each member. You must not “brag” too much though.
This “wins” section will help you stay on track each week. You do not want to be the only one to not have a win for the week. And if you do not have a win, then the other members will help you get one for the next week.
1 question —> 10 seconds (Duration: 42 mins)
Then comes the 1 question, 10 seconds round robin style. You ask a question to the person to your right and he has only 10 seconds to start answering it. It must be a short question.
Like what is the definition of Diabetes. Or Causes of Endocarditis.
Do not ask questions that will take the other person one hour to answer.
Either the person knows or do not know the answer.
If the person does not know, then the next one answers. If the next one does not know, then you give the answer.
The answer needs to be short, in list form and to the point.
No need to start telling a story.
If everybody answers in 20 seconds, then 42×60/20 gives you approximately 126 questions for you to learn from.
5 minutes —> Hotseat (Duration: 15 minutes)
For 5 minutes, each of you will be in what is called a hotseat.
The hotseat is a focus on only one person at a time and the person presents a medical case study or difficult subject that he or she has been having trouble with. The other 2 members try to come up with solutions for that person.
The rest of the group is completely focused on that person’s problem.
When you get 3 brains all working on one problem, then breakthroughs are easier.
Where do you find members for your study groups?
The best way to find members for your study group is to go to places where you can find them easily.
In your class.
On your college facebook group.
People studying in your library.
On medical forums.
On medical groups on facebook.
- List 10 people in your extended network already that would make a good member. (think of acquaintances, old friends, friends of friends, people on Facebook)
- Craft a simple, short email to each person.
- Make sure to follow up promptly with each response.
Qualifiying Sentence (Example: I found you via my friend Joe on Facebook)
Tell them about the group you are putting together and tell them you think they would be a great addition. (Example: I’m putting together a new study group of medical students to help each other. I think you would be a great fit for the group.)
You can also include a bit more about a study group, mention you have a document with the guidelines if they wanted more information, or actually include the document attached.
Your achievements and successes, or other members of the groups listing their achievements (Example: I am very good in Endocrinology but have trouble reading ECGs). Once you start to have amazing people say yes, use their great achievements to get even smarter members in the group.
Write an end greeting explaining how great it would be to keep in touch with a contact number or facebook profile link.
Create a structure and guidelines for the study group
Medical students need structure. They need to know what is expected of them before they commit.
Send me an email and I’ll send you the exact english pdf I used when I started my study group.
Do not be afraid to get rid of members who are not serious!
Create a Study Group Calendar
Now that you have 2 members in addition to you, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Set a specific day and time of the week for the study group and stick to it. Like 09 00 every satuday morning.
Set up a calendar (e.g. google calendar) and on it note down the subjects and questions preparations for each member and for each study group.
You can share a google calendar with the others.
Study group on 02 October 2016.
John – Endocrinology
Paul – Cardiology
Jack – Pneumology
How to prepare questions for the study group
You do not need to need an entire week to prepare questions for the study group.
You can just bring your book and go through each chapter looking for questions as you go.
Like if you see a paragraph on vaccinations, just ask a simple question: “What is the effective vaccine to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease”?
You can make up questions as you go.
Or you can bring a medical book of multiple choice questions.
There are many free sources for medical questions on the net too if you google them.
Do not try to cheat though!
This will defeat the purpose of the study group.
If you are able to answer quite easily the questions, then the person asking the questions must ask tougher ones.
How many study groups should you get into
I recommend you limit yourself to 3 study groups only.
You need to maintain a balanced study pleasure life.
Where to meet up?
You can meet up at a friend’s place, a quiet corner in a class or even on skype or google hangout.
GO TAKE ACTION NOW!!!
I know it may not look that important to you but a study group will definitely improve your grades in your medical studies.
P.S. I have created a FREE, 7-Day Course on How To STUDY LESS, RETAIN MORE!
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