Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MCAT- Memorize Crap And Take

Since my 4th year med school work load keeps me busy, oh, on average, 2 hours a week-  I decided a little while ago that this might me a good time to get a job.   Not a real job- just something to fill my time and fill my Laura's-first-grown-up-apartment-needs-to-have-adorable/expensive-furniture fund.  So I'm working as a private MCAT (medical college admission test) tutor.  I make $30/hr, and get to help kids study for the test that I took 4 years ago.  Everybody wins.

There's not a HUGE demand in my town for tutors, so I'll be happy if I make $500 on this gig before I leave town, but that's still more money than I've ever spent on furnishing an apartment before.  I already have students scheduled for $360 worth of tutoring-  moderately sized flat screen TV, here I come!!

Anyway, today I was tutoring a girl, and we were reviewing the "physics" section for the test.  We were going over the physics sound waves- which maybe I can relate to medical practice since (1) ultrasounds use sound waves to make images, and since (2) understanding the mechanics of sounds conduction in the human ear requires some knowledge of frequency/wavelength.  But as we went through the material, we were suddenly talking about resonant frequencies and harmonics.  And then about how a pipe has different harmonics if it is open on one end, or both ends.  What on earth does this have to do with medicine?  I've never used a pipe for anything on any of my patients.  And even if I did, I don't think I'd care about its harmonic frequencies.

My conclusion, which I came to years ago when I was studying for the MCAT myself and has been reinforced through my tutoring, is that the MCAT is built purely to test your ability to memorize mundane material.  Because, let's face it, most of medicine is mundane memorization.  Side effect profiles, protocols and criteria, contraindications and differentials....   when I think about all the mundane information that I carry around with me in the ER, I kind of get why the MCAT is just trying to see if you can memorize weird stuff.  So, sorry tutortees, you aren't going to get a ton of sympathy from me.  Memorize the harmonics, and then move on with life.

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