Why Do Med Students Use Picmonic with First Aid?

Student to Student: Why I wish I started using Picmonic as an MS1

By Brian Wu, PhD and MS3 at USC

Everyone tells you there’s way too much information to memorize during your MS1 experience in medical school. And worse, that gunners spend every second memorizing every detail!

What about those of us that want to do the best we can in medical school, but still want to have enough time to watch the new Star Wars movie? Whether you’re someone who just wants to make sure they get by, or a gunner who wants to score a 260 on USMLE ® Step 1, Picmonic will make sure you get there. I just wish I’d had it when I was an MS1.

I remember back to when the first part of medical school wasn’t too bad. I was fresh out of college, reviewing the same old material I had seen in undergrad. When we moved to systems, however, I had to learn how to integrate tons of new information quickly, and I wasn’t prepared.

As a visual learner and someone who benefits from flashcards, Picmonic would have been my go-to tool to combine with my medical school notes and resources (Netter, Robbins and First Aid anyone?) to truly master and memorize content.

Here are the top 5 reasons I wish I started using Picmonic as an MS1:

1. It’s a nice break from texts.

Have you ever been reading a textbook and, well, fallen asleep? I have. Countless times. You know what I’ve never really fallen asleep doing? Watching funny movies or reading a comic book (like Calvin and Hobbes, my childhood favorite). Picmonic is a beautiful brain baby of comics, movies, and the medical information you need to know.

2. Picmonic would have allowed me to come back and test myself in a fun way.

I can learn the material on a Picmonic and then use the Master mode in the Picmonic Player to see if I can build the story back myself. It’s not just a flashcard you flip over, but an interactive tool to make sure you really know the material.

3. The pictures and stories are amazing and truly memorable.

Gliptin the griffin keeping those Dipper forks (DPP IV) down to increase insulin? Got it. Won’t forget it. Forever embedded in my brain. The work people put into these Picmonics is ridiculous!

4. It is an efficient tool.

In 10 minutes, I can guarantee that I master a topic. Oh, so your girlfriend needs a few more minutes to do her hair before going out? Perhaps your lecture got out early but you’re stuck on campus for one more didactic session? Picmonic is the best tool to efficiently learn a topic when you have a few minutes of downtime.

5. It’s a great foundation for USMLE ® Step 1.

We already have so much to memorize and learn to prepare for Step 1. Anything we can do to lighten the load and make the process easier is a must.

Although I didn’t use Picmonic during my first years in medical school, I’m using it now for my clinical rotations. I hope you can learn from my experiences though and just get started that first day you walk into school. Why not just load up one on your computer and round up some strangers from your class and be the star of the class? Bring beers!

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