Medical Mnemonist Podcast

Elaborative Interrogation and Review Materials for Medical Students

In this episode, Chase DiMarco reviews the study technique known as “elaborative interrogation.” This episode is not an introduction to elaborative interrogation, which has already been covered in an earlier episode. Instead, Chase shares four key tips for students to keep themselves accountable and effectively apply elaborative interrogation at various stages in their medical education.

  • [00:49] Overview of Episode Contents
  • [02:13] Tip #1: Review Materials Consistently
  • [04:41] Tip #2: Practice Integrative Learning
  • [07:24] Integrative Learning for Later-Stage Medical Students
  • [09:13] Tip #3: Schedule Sessions for Elaborative Interrogation
  • [10:59] Tip #4: Use Metacognition When Choosing Study Materials
  • [13:49] Sneak Peek of Next Week’s Episode

Review Materials Constantly in Medical School

Review materials consistently. Students often worry that all the content that they must learn is just too much, and tend to just focus on newer content. However, it is better to consistently “fight against the forgetting curve” rather than having to memorize the same materials over and over due to inconsistent review. Further, Chase reminds students that the reviewing of past materials should involve active learning techniques like flash cards and medical mnemonics, rather than passive learning.

Students should practice integrative learning. Even if a student’s curriculum uses a disciplinary approach, the student should personally branch out and draw connections with other disciplines as they learn. For example, when a student is asked an anatomy-based question, they must think about the diseases and medication that are related to the disorders that they come across. This branching out makes the material more memorable.

Early on in a medical education, students tend to learn more core science and then later transition into more clinical material, before transitioning back to core science during their residencies. Thus, students who retain an integrative approach throughout will better coalesce the different materials from each stage of their academic journey. For students in the later stages of their academic journey, it is not too late to begin practising integrative learning. Chase encourages students to think about questions such as “how would my answer to this question change, if I change the gender of the patient?” Board exams often include such questions.

Use Elaborative Interrogation

The next tip is to schedule sessions for elaborative interrogation. It is not always a good time to practice this technique. For example, closer to an exam, more focus on question banks and getting the exact answers right is crucial. This is why setting aside time, say 20 minutes a day, to practice branching out and thinking more deeply about a topic is important.

What is Metacognition and why Should you Practice it?

Finally, students should practice metacognition when choosing study materials. This means that they should always ask “why” when choosing a specific resource. For example, if a student often watches videos rather than reading a textbook, they must question whether a video is simply the “easier” resource or actually the “better” resource. Students must be willing to adjust their study materials if they realize that they are simply defaulting to the “easy” choice.

As soon as you finish listening to the podcast, open up your calendar and pencil in time for some elaborative interrogation. Think about the study materials that you are using, and decide if these are the best fit for you! For more tips on navigating the academic aspect of medical school, do refer to these further resources:

Sign up for a Free Coaching session with Chase DiMarco, sponsored by Prospective Doctor! You can also join the Med Mnemonist Mastermind FB Group today and learn more about study methods, memory techniques, and more!

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of MedEd University, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist & Rounds to Residency podcasts creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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