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Anatomy Difficulties Please Help!!

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Hello

 

I am a first year PA student and I am struggling with my gross Anatomy class and cadaver labs. It seems like the harder I study for these classes, the worse my grades get. Obviously, I am doing something wrong. One of my problems is that I study by myself all the time because I always feel like study groups study at a fast pace for me. Therefore, I end up studying by myself and not understanding the material:( I just found one study partner and it seems to help a little. I need to bring up my grade for anatomy ASAP. Any suggestions? Thanks

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Get a tutor.

+10 DKP....

Many schools offer tutoring at no cost. Upperclassmen typically get paid by doing federal work-study. Get a tutor, and if the way you are studying isn't working...try something different. My first semester of PA school i struggled until I learned what type of studying worked for me...we will just say the undergrad did very little to prepare me for the intensity of a PA program. Don't be afraid to ask classmates if you can jump in on their study groups. Our class was pretty fluid as far as study groups go for the first 3 months or so while people figured out who they studied best with.

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What are you having trouble with? We get lectures and we go to lab. Our lectures are about clinically relevant information as well as the prof telling us all about the thing we're going to dissect. Lab is just finding all the goodies then remembering what they are and where. I wouldn't mind offering some advice but I need to know where your trouble lies. In the mean time, good luck! And remember, you're almost done with the semester!

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Thanks everyone for your responses. We do have tutors for Anatomy at our school, however it is more like a group study where the second year PA students try to help the first year PA students by telling us what they remember when they took the class. I attend every session and it is somewhat helpful, but I still feel like I am behind and do not know what to ask during the session because the material that the group goes over is the material that I did not have a chance to study for yet. So I am looking for a one on one tutor, however we only have two more finals left,so we will see what happens. For our lab test, our professor tags every body and we have less than a minute to figure out what structure it is. For our lecture test we just have clinical scenarios. My biggest problem is that I study so much, however I do not know how to apply the material that I just studied to the questions that are being asked on the test. Also, I am not able to retain all the information and sort out what is important to know, so I end up cramming the information and not learning anything. I am starting to get frustrated:( Thanks again for all of your input.

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Hmm. It sounds like you are just not on the same wavelength with the class. You need to talk to your advisor and work out a plan to get caught up--being too far behind to keep up with the new material sounds VERY BAD and a recipe for disaster to me. Hopefully you can figure out a way to sacrifice your Christmas break effectively for catch-up. Also consider the college learning center, whatever name it goes by, for study skills help.

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Michell, how did you get through your undergrad/pre-req Anatomy? Maybe you can utilize some of the same methods that worked for you in the past. I agree that tutoring and flashcards are your best weapons. Don't let it become too overpowering ... keep telling yourself, your mind is bigger than the material. You CAN do this.

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Thanks for the encouragement Hemegroup. For undergrad, I used to read through all the material and not have a problem. I made all A's in anatomy and I enjoyed the class:) Gross Anatomy seems to be a whole new ball game and I seem to be losing;however I am going to do everything in my power to keep playing the game:) I will start to make flash cards and utilize a tutor immediately.

 

rev ronin, thanks for your reply. Our Anatomy class consist of PA students combined with PT students (physical therapy) and the class is taught by a Physical therapist. We have over 100 students in one lecture hall and I thought I was the only one who was struggling. However, there are a lot more people in my class who feel the same way that I do and are not doing well, including the PT students. You are right, I guess all of us have to sacrifice a lot of time during the break and catch up:) Thanks guys. If you have any other suggestions, let me know so I can pass it on to the other students who are struggling besides myself:)

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Anatomy is just a matter of continually reviewing the material and brute memorization. I think tutors are more useful when you are trying to understand difficult concepts-- a tutor for anatomy would likely just take away from study time imo. Are you having a difficult time with the exams or cadaver practicals? or both?

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I always learn best when I have to teach someone else. So, I'd get the tutor, but, I'd reverse roles: YOU teach the tutor. The tutor can then correct you, offer tips, reminders, etc. The tutor (especially if it's a 2nd year student) can also help you figure out what's most important to learn and focus on. There's a relevant short article in this month's Science News that basically says the best way to learn is to retrieve the memory of what you've read (self-testing) and use mediators (word association). You can read or hear something over and over and over but if you can't retrieve it and then explain it, you haven't learned it. Hope that helps !

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I am having difficulties in both areas, lab practicals and exams. Swooshie, that is a great idea! I need to teach the tutor and have him correct me. A lot of the time, I may think I understand a concept but may be missing another vital piece of information. Thanks, that does help:) Also I just found a tutor:)

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I know my undergrad cadaver lab probably doesn't compare to what you go through in PA school, but I discovered that my BEST learning came from an anatomy coloring book. Seriously. I am a very visual learner, so separating each component through color-coding helped me to see the structures in the actual cadaver when they initially seemed to melt together. It also forced me to learn one bit at a time (okay, blue muscles. Now green arm nerves.) and made the whole task more manageable. I even had two coloring books since they were so cheap: one was color-coded based on structure type, the other was color-coded based on function or some other encompassing theme.

 

I would start with the simple coloring page, then move on to photos and flashcards (since, no matter how much I wished it were true, the forearm muscles did not conveniently alternate orange and blue in real life... darn), and then look at the real cadaver in lab. It worked for me and it obviously won't work for everyone, but if you happen to be visual like I am you might look into getting a similar book cheaply off of Amazon.

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First make sure you have netters textbook of anatomy. Secondly draw. Draw every sturcture, the nerves the blood. Drawing it is like the magic school bus, you immerse yourself on a level never reachable by just looking. Also, try going on umich's gross anatomy site and looking through their dissections and do their practice test. Great great review both for anatomy and for the clinical gem type stuff. I would love to help more so pm me if you want. Going to see harry potter after a long day of studying gi!

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First off: Remember that you are not the only one struggling with anatomy. In my program, a large number of people are having difficulties managing their time between anatomy and other classes, and therefore are struggling in the class.

 

I have found that the best way to study for anatomy is using a mixed methods approach. In undergrad, I was able to just read through the material myself and do fine on the exam. This is no longer the case. Currently, I do a variety of different studying techniques. First, I record all of the lectures and re-listen to them. This allows me to let the material soak in more so than when I am sitting in class and franticly trying to write down all of the information. After re-listening to the lecture, I read through my notes and make sure it makes sense to me. I also study in a group so we can ask each other questions. This forces us to not only know the material, but also ensures that you can recite it back in a cohesive way. Lastly, as a group, we go to a classroom one day during the weekend and draw out key structures and concepts on the white boards. This is where you can really test that you know all of the spatial relationships between all of the structures that you've been studying and reciting.

 

Hope that gives you some ideas! Good luck!!!

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When i took A&P and Micro as pre-reqs i HAD to study in groups. When i studied alone my grades were horrible. When i studied in groups my grades were great! I dont know what it is about groups but they seem to help. We were responsible for ALOT of information and what i found helpful was to develop pnemonic devices to help remember everything. We came up with silly sayings but it was because they were so silly that we could remember them. They helped to trigger the hardcore info we needed for exams. just my 2 cents.

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Guest guthriesm

Consider taking a learning test- there are tons online that will help you understand what your style of learning really involves.

 

A visual learner- the coloring book idea is awesome. So is drawing, reading, studying diagrams, flashcards, etc

Audio learner- work with a tutor or group and SPEAK what you need to know - the act of saying/hearing is most important; Talk it out with a friend who is clueless

Kinesthetic- do it- draw, write the notes over again, spend more time touching, CREATE study guides (flashcards, notes, etc)

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My weakness is Anatomy as well. I do extremely well in Pathophysiology, but I struggle to get anatomy down. Some things that helped me out that may for you as well:

 

First, like others have stated, draw everything. Over and over and over, you should be able to draw it with your eyes closed... seriously. For me, flashcards only work when learning concepts. I tried to learn blood flow etc., but it never stuck... drawing did. Second, this may not be you but it was me, never get behind. I give up at least 10 hours on my weekends to study AP. I still review my other classes, just have to dip into my free time since it takes more for me. I got behind after the second test underestimating the material and life sucked. Next, I a agree that teaching is an invaluable resource. I went and got a white board for my house and my roommate and I teach each other. (He is in my program.) Teach both people who both know it well and do not, you will learn a lot by teaching. Last, if this is available, understand how your professor is testing you. Talk to some of the other students in the class, as they may see patterns that you do not. Again, my roomate and myself will grill each other with questions similar to the type our professor likes.

 

On the issue of lab take a look at this website as it helps me and others in my class out A LOT. You can review almost all dissections with cadavers not drawings or pictures. You can also go to the quiz section which actually has cadavers for the pictures and has MANY question and categories. I have caught many items on my practicals by reviewing with this website. IF you need some help navigating or understanding the website... PM me and I will help you.

 

http://ect.downstate.edu/courseware/haonline/quiz/practice/u5/quiztop5.htm

 

Finally, take a deep breath. Getting into PA school demonstrates that you can do this, you just need to find your way. I was an A student and making constant B's with my studying is humbling. Anatomy is difficult and draining, but you only have a few more weeks left in the semester. (ours is only one, 15 hours a week). You can do this, update us to tell us how you ended up fine ;)

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YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!! I am in the process of purchasing coloring books and drawing, drawing, drawing and drawing some more:) I never drew one picture, so this will help. I will utilize the websites that were suggested as well and start to teach my tutor what I do know. You guys do not know how much I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to help out and offer your helpful advice. I will keep you updated:)

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Drawing the brachial plexus is the ONLY way to learn the darn thing:).

 

My lab coordinator has a way of teaching the brachial plexus that cemented in my mind in only a few minutes, makes the constant drawing so much easier.

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Should have said those study hours were on top of my nightly hours during the week.

 

Definitely. And always make time for the gym, somewhere in there! Helps release stress and clears the mind.

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