If you’re here, you’re either a student at Ponce’s medical school, or you’re just a special random person interested in practicing some #medfacts–either way, welcome! Here you can download 1000+ pages of typed notes (first and second years, scroll to the bottom of this page), and 12,579+ flashcards (second years), updated continuously for accuracy and sourced from a number of resources to help you in your classes and on the Step. All of these flashcards are fully customizable, so you can focus on studying what’s important to YOU. Before I hand over the links, let me tell you a little bit about how to use these things!
The Fcards: (mostly for second years)
Here I’ll give you some basic study tips for each of the classes at my medical school, and let you know which tags to use in which Fcard databanks. If you already know how to use these flashcards, scroll down to the decks and the class tips–otherwise, read on.
First, before we do anything, you need to download Anki, the flashcard engine, here. Then, you can easily download the decks I’ve created–I put a link to each deck by each explanation. To use Anki, after you’ve downloaded the decks, just open Anki on your computer, and click on the name of the deck you want to study. Click study now, and one side of a flashcard will come up. Say the other side, the answer, to yourself. Then press the spacebar to check your answer! It’s that easy. Now, you harness the power of Anki using your keyboard. Anki reclassifies the flashcards based on how well you knew them so that you review the harder stuff more often–this is great! It’s intelligent flashcard review! So to tell Anki you got this flashcard so right it was too easy, press 3; to tell Anki you got the flashcard right, press 2; and to tell Anki you need to see it again soon, press 1. That’s basically how anki works. If you use anki flashcards every day, it will sort your cards into green review cards to put the stuff you’ve studied in long-term memory, and it will put new cards you haven’t seen before into the new category. Ideally, you would study each deck a little bit every day, maybe twenty cards or so a day of each deck, to really solidify your knowledge. Some of the highest Step scorers are using Anki.
It’s best if you make your own flashcards. While in class, or studying from a book, just click “add” at the top of the Anki home screen, and from the drop-down menu select the deck (subject) you want to add cards to. Don’t make your new cards complicated. Make them as simple as humanly possible, and MAKE SURE to add tags to you can find the cards again easily. You learn better by making things. I’m only giving you my flashcards in case you don’t have time to make your own, and also because they’re a really useful searchable database to quickly pull up the high-yield information that will show up on your tests. Without copy-pasting, because that is plagiarism, I went through and made flashcards of almost all the concepts (not the actual questions) in almost the entire Uworld Qbank, portions of Cecil, most of the powerpoints from classes, and various other resources, so when you need a fast snapshot of a drug, for example, you can just click browse and type in the name of the drug you’re looking for, and all the most important information you need to know will come up. This is nice, because Google often gives you far too much irrelevant information you don’t need, and books and notes are wordy and hard to search.
What if you want to cram a particular topic or block to prepare for a test? Well, you can click on any deck, click custom study at the bottom of the screen, and then select the tags and decks you want to study. For example, if you want to study block4 of Pharmacology, you’d click on Pharmacology, click custom study, select the last radio button–study by card state or tag–use the drop-down menu to select the number of cards you want to study, click “all cards in random order”, and then choose the block4 tag. Because I want these flashcards to be useful to people who don’t have the same block schedule I did, I’ve also tagged all the cards by topic, so if you wanted to study the cardiology drugs you could select the tag cardiology. This is probably the most useful function of the deck for you, and this is probably how you’ll use Anki most often–studying by topic within subjects. If you really want to get crazy, you can edit that Custom Study Session you just made by clicking on the Custom Study Session deck back on the home screen, and clicking Options. In the Search bar, you can type in all kinds of things to get more and more specific, so like if you wanted to study all renal from both Pharmacology and the Pathology deck, you could do that. You’ll have to type in Anki’s special language–I found an easy page to help you do that here. Basically you just have to be smart with your parenthesis and your ands and ors, and you can create any combination of topics you want to study.
Alright! I think that’s it. If you have any questions you can hit me up at school or on twitter @petr3pan. Now, on to the specific decks and their related classes!
Introduction to Clinical Skills:
The coolest thing about this deck is the heart sounds section I made for the first block. For real, you can plug in your headphones, hear heart sounds, read the card to see where the stethoscope is placed to allow you to hear those sounds, and then flip the card to identify the murmur. THIS IS GOLDEN. To use that feature, use the tag “sound”.
The other useful part of this deck is the “development” tag. That pediatric development stuff is tricky, and comes up again and again, and it’s hard to remember, so use this deck for that.
This is also the deck where I put all my Psychiatry Flashcards from the last two or three blocks, under the tag “psychiatry.” Most of Psych is conceptual for me, so to study it you really just need to read and understand the diseases, so I didn’t make a lot of Psych flashcards. You may want to add to this section if you need to do more Psych memorization, and add more specific tags like “block1,” or “anxiety-disorders”, etc.
As for the rest of this deck, it’s all factoids we learned in class. Really to do well in ICP you need to memorize the skinny book they give you that has the checklists they’ll use to evaluate you on your practical exams. Read the Bates, too (I didn’t much, but wish I did) and you’ll do well in this class. Practice a lot with your friends, and look up youtube videos on each clinical technique (like prostate exam, breathing exam, etc etc etc).
This class is hard, harder than the Step, because at our school they teach us a lot of exceptions instead of general rules, and without a nice general foundation this subject is mind-bogglingly difficult. I made flashcards of almost all the powerpoints in class, so that should help you remember this crazy stuff, because really and truly, this is all memorization. To study for classes, use the tags by body system, like “respiratory,” or by block–to study for the Step, or look up all the information on a particular organism, use the three main tags “fungi,” “viruses,” and “bacteria,” and the name of the organism. To do really well in class at PSM (or Ponce Health Sciences University or whatever it’s called now) you have to go to class and hear what the teachers plan on testing–they’re REALLY looking to punish people who don’t go by selecting little cucarachas to test. However, I skipped about half these classes, focused on knowing the Micro I needed to know for the Step, and then bumped my class grade up a letter by acing the Shelf. I ended up doing really well in the class that way. I am not recommending skipping class–I am saying, prioritize, and put the Step first. This deck allows you to do both, but it emphasizes the stuff from the Step.
I really like this class, and found its lab worthwhile and stimulating, and appreciate the experience the teachers provided, but occasionally in class we were taught false information. We found this out by verifying outside clinically-researched sources. I’ve tried to weed out any false information in this deck, but if you happen to find some, please let me know so I can change the deck online. Same goes for all the other decks. You can, of course, just change your personal version of it by editing the cards as you practice.
Cards from this deck come from information learned in class, from the Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple, from scientific papers we were given to read, and from information learned from the Uworld Qbanks (again, no questions or explanations are copied and pasted here, or even fully paraphrased–you should buy the Qbank if you want to do well, and use these just to reinforce the information you learn there). We all kind of started to learn second year that having less resources, and learning them thoroughly, is better than skimming through a million things. Also, repetition is key. You’re going to have to see each thing probably about five times before you actually learn it, according to a lot of people smarter than me whose names I can’t remember. I cannot recommend the Ridiculously Simple enough. Get that book.
Use the “immunology” tag to review all of immunology ever before the Shelf. I did well on that, too, and I used these cards.
Hands down, the most important class at my med school. I went to almost every class–a number of my classmates will tell you to skip everything and just study Pathoma, but I just don’t roll that way. I found it really helpful to get the verbal reinforcement and interpersonal interaction so I could ask questions while I made flashcards. You do you. But definitely look into the Pathoma, Goljan, or Robbins–choose a resource that will give you a deep, comprehensive understanding of pathology, because this class makes up most of the Step. Buy your Qbank early: I got an 80-something on the pathology shelf using mostly Qbank stuff. Some people don’t spend enough time reviewing the Qbank explanations, and have trouble remembering them, so this deck should be really useful for that. One strategy I found useful was to study Qbank questions in timed tutor mode in conjunction with the class topics–so while my class was studying cardiology, I was doing cardiology questions. Don’t use timed tutor mode to test your knowledge, though–use the normal timed mode and get into the test-taking brainspace. Then use this deck to study the things you keep getting wrong, or to prep for class.
Best thing about this deck? The tag “photo.” Pathology is really big on identifying images, so for each section I’ve got a TON of images to help you identify stuff! Otherwise, the deck is pretty straight-forward–use “renal” to study renal, “cardiology” to study cardiology, and so on. The tag “neoplasia” has a lot of useful stuff that covers all of these body-systems.
Oh, one more thing. The tag “inflammation.” At the beginning of pathology there’s an introductory section that’s taught that kind of overlaps with immunology, so when you’re studying immunology, while you’ll primarily want to use the microbiology deck, you might look here. Similarly, while you’re studying inflammation at the beginning of pathology, if you can’t find something you think should be in this deck, it might be in the microbio deck.
Varied resources such as Pathoma, Guyton’s, class ppts, and Qbank info played a role here. Again, nothing, except for the pictures, is copy-pasted, and everything is general information. The pictures are either public domain, cited, or taken from powerpoints that should have been appropriately sourced since they came from my teachers. If you see anything here you think violates copyright, let me know and I’ll take it down. Same goes for all the other decks.
The most straight-forward and useful deck of all. If you don’t use flashcards for anything else, use them for pharm. I wish I’d used these cards more, because if I knew every card in this deck, I would have aced the Pharm Shelf, because everything on the Shelf was also in this deck. The best thing about this deck is the very simple way it asks everything about each drug, from side effects to mechanism of action (“MOA” in the deck). These are the drugs from the drug-list at my school, and named in the Qbank from Step1, so if you know these, you’ll be in a happy place.
Special tags in this deck, besides the standard systems tags like “cardiology” and “renal,” include “side-effects,” and “pharmacokinetics,” where you’ll find the most important equations to memorize. There’s also a section on history which you’ll only need if you’ve got Dr. Matta and he wants you to memorize some history. Don’t worry about that otherwise. The “toxicology” section is pretty cool, and the “vitamins” section is indispensable.
I went to every class. Most of my classmates didn’t. I found it helpful. They didn’t. Try it, at least.
Physiology, Anatomy, and Biochem:
Only for second years reviewing for Step 1–not for first years learning this stuff for the first time (my resource for first years is below, in the section titled notes–but by all means, if you’re a first year, make some awesome Anki cards of your own!).
This is basically a quick review of first year. If you want to review first year cardiophys, search tags “cardiology” and “physiology”. The biochem section should have ALL the major diseases for Step 1, and all the metabolic pathways you need to know. Let me know if there’s something missing in biochem as far as metabolism goes–for physiology, it’s not really memorization, so there isn’t a lot to go on here. Focus on your Qbank and re-read First Aid and Costanza for that. For anatomy, type the tag “anatomy.” You should find the most commonly asked nerves and muscles–nowhere as in-depth as first year anatomy, but much more efficient for Step 1.
There’s an additional “biostats” tag to help you review biostats. When I took the class I did well because our teacher posts some awesome practice problems online–if you’re at PSM, DEFINITELY do all the practice problems you can get your hands on, and then go through all the biostats questions in the Qbank. That was as close as I ever got to getting a hundred in a class. Use these to review again before Step 1. I almost forgot everything I’d learned a few weeks before the Step, and that was a huge bummer.
Oh this class. A lot of people hated this class my year at PSM. It’s really hard to learn what’s essentially Introduction to Internal Medicine when you don’t have a basic understanding of pathology, physiology, or pathophysiology, so the best thing you can do to help yourself understand this class is get your hands on a review book and the day before lecture give yourself a basic foundation of the topic, because the lecturer sure as hell ain’t gonna give you that. Some people liked the Clinical Pathophys Made Ridiculously Simple, but it was too ridiculously simple for me to be much help. It might be good for reading the night before class, though. I actually enjoyed the textbook required for this class, the Cecil, but I had to stop using it later on because it got to be so huge. I swear, if you don’t read something the night before class will be almost useless to you because of all the details, exceptions, randomness, complications, and the sheer amount of material being hurled in your poor little face.
The good news is that a lot of this overlaps with pathology, so if you’re really, really good at pathology you should pass this class. This deck’s tags go by body system, and for most systems literally all the class material is reflected in these cards, but this is a deck where you’ll DEFINITELY want to add your own cards depending on the doctor teaching you. Find a resource to read from and stick to it–one of my biggest problems with this class was that I wasn’t able to settle on a resource. (I did, however, pass, in case you’re wondering. = P) Try reading the Cecil if you can, but mostly focus on knowing your pathology really well and just trying to use that to help you keep up with the lecturers. They will ask you cucarachas. Be prepared.
This is another picture-heavy deck, and the EKG section is probably the best section in the deck. If you don’t use anything else, definitely make use of that, because that’s totally high yield. Don’t use this deck for renal, at all. I was confused most of the time, and that didn’t make for good deck-building.
Good luck. I actually enjoyed this class, but it’s really hard to know how to study for it. Do your best, know your path, and try to find the cucarachas in class.
That’s it for the flashcards! They’re pretty fun and relaxing, and it’s a much more interesting way to review than just reading the same thing over and over, which my brain often vehemently rejects. If you don’t use them consistently, they’re not as useful–don’t think that if you went over all the cards in a section one time you know them, because you don’t. But even if you don’t use them that much, it’s great to have them as a database to do quick reviews of very specific topics, like psoriasis, or diuretics, so I hope you enjoy. I’ll be adding other decks as I go through my third year.
For first years and second years, but mostly first years:
Becoming Healers was my first year project, with over 1000 pages of explanations in language a third-grader could understand. It tapered off towards the end of first year, so towards the end of each chapter it becomes an unusable mess, but for the first several blocks of school you can use it to help you understand concepts that are confusing. I especially recommend the first half of the Biochem section–a lot of people told me they found it helpful to have things explained to them in baby-language instead of in doctor-speak. It cannot help you with metabolism, as I went to shit at that point: for metabolism you really need to either build a Sherlock Holmes’-style mind palace (google mind palaces now!), or grunt-force write out the processes over and over and over again. The first half of the physiology section is good too, with information sourced from the Costanza, Mosby, and neat facts from Dr. Isidro’s class. If you’re at PSM, you might want to use these notes as a searchable database, especially for clinical information that might be tested in Anatomy class, since most of the information in here is specific to what was taught at PSM my first year.
Becoming Healers II is the general information notes for the beginning of second year. Unlike first year, which is very concept-heavy, especially during physiology, most of second year is rote memorization. However, for pharmacology, pathology, and a few other classes, the beginning of second year is all about concepts underlying these fields, so I wrote up these notes to help you understand things like pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in easy language. These notes don’t really go beyond block 1–it’s all flashcards after that. Check them out, and use them kind of as your friendly neighborhood guide to chill-town studying at the beginning of the year.