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Thread: How to Succeed at AUC

  1. #1
    Macgyver1MD's Avatar
    Macgyver1MD is offline Senior Member 535 points
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    How to Succeed at AUC

    Well tonight I am feeling generous. Since I've been through all of medical school (at AUC) and residency, I will pass along my pearls of wisdom or mindless ramping whichever you choose to call them after reading them.

    #1 - Get Ready for a Change.

    If you are the typical AUC student then you have applied to US schools or schools from your home country and were not successful in gaining admittance. Congrats you were rejected. Feels horrible doesn't it?! Yeah I went through it too. Don't despair as you were accepted into AUC and now were given a 2nd chance. Don't blow this one. Medical school basic sciences is TOUGH, it was at the time the toughest thing I had ever done, PERIOD. Like most caribbean students when you applied to a US school either your grades were not good enough and/or your MCAT wasn't good enough. Both of which is usually due to Not Studying Enough / Preparing for class and/or MCAT. If you want to succeed, you-will-need-to-CHANGE.


    #2 - How to Change

    Great you've agreed to buckle down and really study this time huh? Well considering your study habits kept you from having better grades or doing better on the MCAT, better re-learn how to study and learn quick. When they use the analogy of medical school is like drinking from a fire hydrant, its soooo accurate. The material is NOT difficult to understand at all, its the sheer VOLUME of material you must learn.

    Let me stop there. Remember I said "LEARN", NOT memorize which is two different things.

    When you learn something you understand it, you can manipulate the information. That is what being a doctor is about, applying what you learn. Don't get me wrong, you will memorize a lot of useless info and mostly important info. But here is the key that will help you make it out a star and rock your boards. When you understand a topic you are much more likely to remember it, than memorizing tables or definitions which you will forget after the exam.

    In order to learn how to study and Learn Material instead of memorizing it, you have to understand a bit about the brain. Its like any other organ in our body, especially the muscles. When we overtax our muscles from working out they hurt and the more you exert them the more they will protest and hurt. If you overdo it, you will be less likely to exercise them again for fear of pain. The brain works similarly in that if you use your brain more than usual it will get tired and resist changing its structure to accommodate all this new information you are trying to learn. Like any muscle you have to exercise it consistently without fatiguing it and it will grow stronger. (i.e. your memory and problem solving skills will improve with practice.

    #3 - Reading Material is DIFFERENT than Recalling Information

    Studying notes from class is NOT reading them over and over and over again. If you want to see an example, read any page in a novel over and over for 10x. Think you know it well? Put the book down and in 1 hour write out what you remember from memory and try to copy it down on a blank sheet of paper word for word. I'm sure you didn't' do this, but you get my point. Its difficult to remember all the details and copy it. But how many times have you recited quotes from favorite movies word for word and could someone which move that is from, what was happening in the movie when the quote was said and now remember other funny quotes about the movie,etc. Your goal when studying material is to find ways to remember the material by making it interesting and useful to you in chunks and bits at a time.

    Different people study different ways, but I think that using this method will help anyone improve their memory and your going to need lots of it.


    #4 - Efficient Studying

    Now to the meat, how do you study for medical school? Well to each their own, but here is what I did and it worked great for me. Keep in mind that each day you will have new material from each class you have. On average this is 3-5 classes a day. You must also keep up on the previous material and incorporate the new material each day and be ready for your exam after a few weeks of material is given. Your looking at 3-5 weeks of lectures, 5 days a week x 3-5 classes. At worst your looking at around 125 days of lecture between exams. You must be able to understand all that material and apply it on exams, not just regurgitate terms on a test. Very few classes in medical school rely on strict memorization besides Anatomy.

    Each day Mon - Fri after attending each class I would take notes on what was covered in class to clarify later. Then when getting home around 3-5pm I would rest for 1 hour and then start studying. I would recopy the days notes into an Excel Spreadsheet in a question and answer format. I would use each slide for the lecture and make a question and then beside the question place an answer. I would have to be creative and make as few questions as possible to cover the lecture material. After finishing with that days lecture notes, I would review 2-3 of the previous days lecture notes by asking myself some of the questions I created for those lectures.

    I would repeat this for every class and would have extensive banks of questions and answers covering every lecture for every class. The 2-3 days before exam I would increase my review to include more lecture review questions and on the day before review all my questions. If I had an answer memorized for a question, skip it as you know it. You need to spend your time trying to recall the answers for the questions you stumble most on. Don't' study what you know, study what you don't know.

    #5 - Weekends are YOUR TIME

    Study hard Mon-Fri and take Sat and Sunday OFF. Go to the beach, relax at home and recuperate. I couldn't totally relax, and would at least review 1-2 lectures from each class in the evening, but wouldn't use my whole day up. This way you don't miss out on the island and what it has to offer. CAUTION: Don't over do it, but don't deprive yourself either. Usually before tests I would study more on weekends, but still the majority of my times was relaxing.


    # 6 - Do USMLE Questions OFTEN

    The professors try to taylor their exams to mimic the USMLE exam questions often. This is not a guarantee, but is often the case. By studying USMLE questions on the topic your learning about in class, you can reinforce it and solidify it better.

    Also this prepares you for the USMLE style questions early on. Then when 5th Semester comes around you have seen sooo many usmle questions you will start seeing repeat questions, yeah!! This will prepare you best for the USMLE Step 1 and the comprehensive final. There will be times when you will see similar questions on the exam that you may have seen on a USMLE qbook and get some extra points out of it. When I was there the Library had a set of binders called Bio-Test that had hundreds of multiple choice questions on different topics and are a great study aide.

    #7 - People will Decelerate and/or drop out.

    This may be you, I hope not though. You will develop a group of friends and learn together, but chances are some of them will drop out or decelerate and you will loose touch with them. Its a fact of life, get used to it and DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU.

    #8 - Do WELL ON STEP 1

    Do questions, questions, questions. USMLE World, Kaplan Q-bank, Q-books, etc. This will be your best gauge as how well you know the material. If you miss a question, review the material on why you missed it then move on. Don't re-study questions you got right its a waste of time. Do so many questions you start seeing repeats, repeats, repeats and your average improves. Then set a date and take the exam.

    #9 - Clinical's

    If you make it off the island and do well on your USMLE Step 1, congrats. Clinicals is down hill from here. 90% of them are showing up and doing what your asked. You will study some and learn, but it will not be as bad as basic sciences. Though, don't totally give up in clinicals as its important you do well and get good evaluations. You should NEVER fail a clinical rotation for any reason, this looks BAD for residencies. If your having family problems, medical, etc then seek HELP EARLY or get accommodations from the rotation or school and if you must ask to withdrawal or postpone your rotation. Some rotations if you withdrawal you could fail them, so best to just NOT FAIL them. Remember 90% is showing up and doing what your told and learn when you can.

    Some rotations are hard, some are easy. Most are ok. You will have to do skut work, get used to it as a medical student. You will have to get up earlier than everyone else for some rotations and work harder then the residents for some. This is the exception, not the rule. Most are fine.

    #10 - Residency

    Less than 50% of IMG's (International Medical Graduates) will match into a residency program. Its the norm now, and considering US medical schools are increasing their class sizes and there are min to no increase in overall residency spots. Expect this rate to decrease more as time goes on.

    Let that sink in.

    Out of all the US IMG's that submit a rank list for their preferred programs for residency, about 49% in 2012 matched to a program. These are people who made it off the island and through basic sciences and clinicals and passed all their board exams. Then only 1/2 of them actually get a spot in the match.

    This doesn't include the people who take positions outside of the match, but I am not sure how that would influence the numbers. Still its a stark wake up call to IMG's. This means you could potentially waiting an entire year working whatever you can waiting for next years match cycle. And those student loans don't stop being due because you didn't get a position in a residency, have fun making those payments.

    #11 - Final Thoughts

    This is a path not for the light hearted, it is a long road that has many bumps and in the end you are still competing for residencies with US Students. You will have to work HARDER than US Students, LONGER than US Students and accept LESS CHANCE of getting a residency for all your trouble and almost double the tuition cost and repayment. Its not fair, but the way it is.

    Think long and hard before making the jump, thats a lot of STUDENT LOANS that WILL BE REPAYED if you graduate or not.

    PGY-Attending Hidden Content FP

  2. #21
    swiftfoot245's Avatar
    swiftfoot245 is offline Junior Member 512 points
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    Great post. Seeing this before i started AUC would have made my life a whole lot easier.

    I think Moderators should consider making this a STICKY NOTE!!! This post shouldnt just disappear in the large of volume of threads.
    my blog: kwasiroadthroughlife.blogspot.com

  3. #22
    bigjohnshea is offline Member 521 points
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    I also greatly appreciated this post.

    I do have a question about one of the original comments though, about the stat which was mentioned for IMG's matching into residencies. I have seen that same stat before in a report about residency placements. I can't remember who generated it because it was two years ago before I got here. Anyhow I seem to remember that number of 50% including ALL international medical grads who apply for US residencies, and not necessarily Caribbean medical grads, or IMGs who did rotations in US medical schools, or IMGs who went to 50 state accredited schools. I have no doubt the competition is still overwhelming, but I don't want people to have the wrong impression about what that 50% represents. When I saw that stat in the report about 2 years ago it was 50% of every single student from any international medical school who applied to a US residency.

    Is that accurate? Was that the same statistic you intended to reference?

    Also, speaking as a student who struggled for the first four semesters of basic sciences, failed two courses and is now getting straight A's, I can tell you this. I tried every study method under the sun, I studied relentlessly for four semesters and still failed two courses last semester. I'm repeating those two courses now, and taking a few 5th semester courses as well, and I have yet to get a score less than an A this semester. God willing that will continue. What changed? I finally admitted to myself that there may be a problem outside of just my study methods and my effort. I was diagnosed with Inattentive ADD and am now on medication for it. There are a lot of people who abuse medication in every medical school. What I'll tell you is, if you need it, there is no shame in taking it and using it responsibly. If you get here and are struggling and cannot figure out why, explore this as an option, but only take this option if it is warranted. I got an Dx from both my primary and a clinical psychologist. It was not a short process.

    Best of luck to all my colleagues.
    Keep your eye on the prize.

  4. #23
    mnhockeyfan is offline Newbie 511 points
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    I'm currently applying to medical schools and have researched AUC as an option. They have roughly 80% (or something close to that) of their students match (mostly PGY1, some PGY2). The reason its 50% overall is because of the not-so accredited schools in the caribbean.
    PreMed74 likes this.

  5. #24
    bigjohnshea is offline Member 521 points
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    That makes much more sense. You wouldn't happen to have a resource for that? Not that I doubt you are being truthful it would just be nice to check it out.

    My first semester was January of a year and a half ago. We lost about 12 people out of 120 that semester for various reasons. Failing out was not a big one. There were only two people I can think of who failed out in first semester. The majority of that attrition was for personal reasons. We had one guy who transferred. There were three more who we lost for grades within the following semesters, but many students who fail a course early in basic sciences realign their mentality successfully in one manner or another. It is a small percentile of students who get into the fourth and fifth semesters and then end up failing courses let alone failing out of basic sciences. For example, we had 7 students fail Neuroscience last semester (a fourth semester course), all of whom failed by one or two questions overall. That could have easily swung the other way. Another example is Pharm2, a fifth semester course. There were only two people who failed that course this semester, and again by a narrow margin. So 80% success in matching makes sense given the trends I've seen over the last year and a half.

    I don't know what the rate of attrition is during the clinical years at AUC, and I don't know the number of students who go through all of basic sciences and clinicals at AUC and then fail to match at all. Perhaps someone who knows these stats can chime in. I doubt it is a significant number.


    Mnhockeyfan, if you have any questions about the school, the island, etc. and would like to communicate with someone more, feel free to PM me or shoot me a message on Bigjohnshea@yahoo.com.

    Hope to see you hear next semester.
    PreMed74 likes this.
    Keep your eye on the prize.

  6. #25
    mulberry is offline Member 539 points
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    please make this a sticky! i hope I can review this thread when the time comes!

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    AZgirl is offline Newbie 510 points
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    For Macgyver1MD or someone else who seems knowledgable about the AUC system:

    I spoke to a guy in AUC's finance office today and he said alot of students take too long of a break after 5th semester before starting 6th semester and their student loans begin to be due back. I'm wondering why people are taking longer than the traditionally scheduled 4 months. Are they not passing step 1? Does AUC allow all students to sit for USMLE step 1, or are they preventing some from taking it (i.e. by pre-screening with a pre-test that must be passed first, etc.)?

    Where do most AUC students go for their clinical rotations? For example, are one third going to NY and one-third going to FL?

    Do the exams at AUC seem fair based on the curriculum taught? Are the teachers quality?

    Also, roughly what is the cost of an off campus one bedroom apartment that is close by AUC (in US$)?

    Thanks.

  8. #27
    Ubuntu is offline Senior Member 519 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZgirl View Post
    For Macgyver1MD or someone else who seems knowledgable about the AUC system:

    I spoke to a guy in AUC's finance office today and he said alot of students take too long of a break after 5th semester before starting 6th semester and their student loans begin to be due back. I'm wondering why people are taking longer than the traditionally scheduled 4 months. Are they not passing step 1? Does AUC allow all students to sit for USMLE step 1, or are they preventing some from taking it (i.e. by pre-screening with a pre-test that must be passed first, etc.)?

    Where do most AUC students go for their clinical rotations? For example, are one third going to NY and one-third going to FL?

    Do the exams at AUC seem fair based on the curriculum taught? Are the teachers quality?

    Also, roughly what is the cost of an off campus one bedroom apartment that is close by AUC (in US$)?

    Thanks.
    I left the island in December and don't know a single person who left the island and has not passed step on their 1st attempt. Obviously there may be students out there, however from the 100+ that I know of, there has yet to be anyone. Also, I don't know anyone taking more than 4 months to take step. Anywhere from 1-4 months is what most people seem to be taking with a majority taking between 2 and 3 months. As for the rest of your Qs I'm sure they're posted all over the place but then again I'd love to procrastinate from working on this presentation so....

    For clinicals students go to NY, England, Miami, Michigan and Cali for the most part. With that, i'd say the majority end up in the east coast and a good number doing some of their time in England. Michigan takes around 30 students over the course of a year and Cali is a whole different situation right now. There are students there right now but no one really knows what's going on for the future.

    When i was on the island, again I left in Dec, i thought the exams were fair and the majority of the teachers were great. Obviously, some were better than others but you'll run into that anywhere.

    Apartments vary depending on what you want. 900-1500 seems about what people payed. You could pay more or less depending on what you want.

    If you have any other Qs just PM


  9. #28
    bigjohnshea is offline Member 521 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZgirl View Post
    For Macgyver1MD or someone else who seems knowledgable about the AUC system:

    I spoke to a guy in AUC's finance office today and he said alot of students take too long of a break after 5th semester before starting 6th semester and their student loans begin to be due back. I'm wondering why people are taking longer than the traditionally scheduled 4 months. Are they not passing step 1? Does AUC allow all students to sit for USMLE step 1, or are they preventing some from taking it (i.e. by pre-screening with a pre-test that must be passed first, etc.)?

    Where do most AUC students go for their clinical rotations? For example, are one third going to NY and one-third going to FL?

    Do the exams at AUC seem fair based on the curriculum taught? Are the teachers quality?

    Also, roughly what is the cost of an off campus one bedroom apartment that is close by AUC (in US$)?

    Thanks.

    I agree with most of what Ubuntu said.

    There are lots of hospitals to do your clinicals in, but all the locations are scattered amoung California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Britain. There are only a few of those places where you can still do all of the cores and electives in one place, New York, Florida, Michigan and California (for the time being) are those spots. I say for the time being in California because Ross recently outbid us for the clinical locations at Bakersfield so AUC is negotiating to fix that. I believe they will find a common ground since all the money is basically coming from the same place, that being DeVry.

    I have only once heard an actual story of someone failing Step one from AUC, but the most recent statistic sent out today is 98% first time pass for all the students who took it this year, which out of two semesters implies 2% first time fail, which indicates roughly 10 or 15 students who failed on the first testing. There are exit exams here in fifth semester. You need to pass an NBME Comp (or it's equivalent in Shelf exams for Physio and Path) which is essentially a Step exam cut down to 50% of its length, with a passing score of 64%. So keep in mind, our is 98% percent first time pass rate for students who passed an NBME comp with alleast a 64%, which is not a passing percentile score as far as I understand on the Step. I have never heard of someone actually lapsing over the 6 month grace period due to the step but I guess it's possible. My plan is to study for two months, schedule the test for three weeks later, take it and hopefully start clinicals three weeks after test day in Britain, or somwhere in New York or Michigan. There are always spots open for clinicals somewhere, you just need to be willing to go to that place.

    Rents are as Ubuntu said, although I will caution you, you may get lucky and have a good landlord who gives you your deposit back, but it is not likely, and there is no real recourse. In my experience most students get shafted on their deposit, so I would be very wary of how fancy a place you choose to rent and how much you are asked to put down. PM more if you want more details. Also utilities are not cheap here. If your apartment has central air and a large refrigerator, depending on your energy use you should expect to pay between 250-500$ a month for utilities. If you have a wall unit AC and a small refrig, you might be seeing bills for power in the area of 150$.

    Quality of professors varies as it does at any school, but the majority of them are pretty good. There are certain departments that have a bad rep, not entirely unwarranted. Physiology/Neuroscience is the chief offender. PM me if you want more details about the professors.
    Keep your eye on the prize.

  10. #29
    bigjohnshea is offline Member 521 points
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    Mulberry,
    I think you sent me a PM but it has no content. Email me if you wish. Bigjohnshea@yahoo.com
    Hope you're doing good.

    Edit: actually I got the message in my email, but I can't respond. Email me if you want some info about your question. Sorry, not sure why the PM doesn't come up.
    Last edited by bigjohnshea; 07-23-2012 at 09:22 PM.
    Keep your eye on the prize.

  11. #30
    AZgirl is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Thanks Ubuntu and bigjohnshea! The answers were both helpful and appreciated. It's not letting me PM people and I don't know why, but I was wondering if the island is safe (like high or low crime, theft, etc.) and if students have transportation options to a grocery store or if you bought a car while there.

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