Psychiatry: Not Too Insane (I Actually Understand This)

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that pertains to mental disorders and their treatments. So in the course, you will learn about all types of illnesses affecting the mind, from something as common as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse to something a bit more uncommon such as schizophrenia and personality disorders.

I thought medical school psychiatry was one of the more interesting second year classes, because it focused less on memorizing details, but focused more on the whole picture. I could mentally picture a histrionic patient much more clearly than the BCR-ABL gene for chronic myeloid leukemia. And as a result, during my practice exams for Step 1, I did really well in the behavioral sciences section.

psychiatry - beautiful mind

A Beautiful Mind, a movie about a brilliant man with schizophrenia, was my first exposure to mental illnesses outside of mental retardation and autism.

Psychiatry in My School

Even though second year of medical school sucked, this course was actually quite enjoyable. It helps that the main professor is a really chill, funny, and likeable guy. He is also a fantastic teacher. (He was one of the two people that interviewed me when I was applying to get into medical school. Looking back, I really lucked out. Thank you, Jesus!)

For example of how he was such a good teacher, he would voluntary give up one night before the exam to go through the main points we should know for the exam. And on top of that, he got us pizza. I am not sure if he spent his own money or if he got the school to contribute for the food. But still, these were above and beyond the duties of professor. (As a side note and just to give props to whom they are due, my pathology teacher would do the same thing if there was not enough time in class to review for an upcoming exam. He would spend his own time to help us review and spend his own money to get the class some food.)

Medical school psychiatry class took place one a week, on a Thursday, from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM. I remember this because classes are always so early. I have slept through so many classes just because I was not used to such an early class. If I could not stay awake for an 8:00 AM class, I wonder how I made it through my surgery rotation, which began at 6:00 AM!

So why did I attended almost every single class even though I was going to sleep through it? Because attendance was mandatory. At least that is what the teacher said. But if you skip classes, I doubt it would affect your score as long as you can learn the materials outside of the classroom.

Looking back, I should have skipped all of my psychiatry classes. Why sleep in class when I can sleep on my bed?

How to Succeed in Medical School Psychiatry?

This is another class I did pretty well in. I think I honored it.

Obviously, my strategy does not include paying attention in class. But I did review the lecture slides and look up anything I did not know. I might have asked for notes from classmates, but it was rare. Once in a blue moon (or very occasionally), I do manage to stay awake in class. On the days that I managed to pay attention in class, I did not have to review the slides. So you have a pick of

  • passing out in class and studying on your own
  • pay attention in class

Once the exams are coming, spend about a day to review the slides again. Then try to find old exams or practice questions and spend a day doing those.

Study Tips

  • skip class and learn from lecture slides by yourself (consider getting notes from someone who went to class if you are totally confused)
  • review slides two days before exams
  • do practice problems a day before exams

Additional Psychiatry Resources

I did not use any resources except for the lecture slides and practice questions. And I think they are sufficient to do well in the course.

Hey, you! Do you want to know how an accountant, without a science background, made it through medical school without any difficulty? Do you want to know how I memorized a sea of information without cracking my skull in half and dumping the books into my brain? No, I did not slave away all night studying in the library either. If you want to know my complete study system, check out The Secret of Studying.

This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.

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