What Should You Do if You Just Don’t Understand a Topic No Matter How Hard You Try?

medical student studying

Every single medical student in the history of modern medicine has struggled with at least one topic during their many years of education. Though it may feel frustrating – and in some cases, you might think it’s impossible to learn – there are a few helpful things you can do to reinforce those tricky topics during your study sessions and put you on a path to mastery.

Look Through the Professor’s Recommended Texts

Sometimes, and especially in medical school, the professor for a specific course will include a list of recommended texts on the course syllabus, even if he or she doesn’t teach from or even mention those texts during lectures. If you’re struggling to grasp a concept or topic, pull up your course syllabus and look for those various materials. You might be able to find various online tools or resources that you can use to gain a better overall understanding.

Re-Watch Lectures (or Find Alternative Lectures Online)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many professors are lecturing their classrooms virtually. It’s highly likely that somewhere amongst your resources, you’ll be able to find recordings of all the lectures from your course, and these can be wonderful tools. You can even search for lectures from other professors (or even other universities) online. Sometimes in order to grasp a concept, you need to hear it from more than one angle. Recorded lectures can help you do this.

Email Your Professor(s)

If your syllabus or the texts it references aren’t of much help to you and you’re still struggling to understand a topic, reach out to your professor in an email. He or she may schedule a phone call or video meeting with you, or your professor may be able to point you toward some texts or resources that will help you get a better grasp of the topic’s foundations. Working your way up from the simplest concepts is the best route, and your professor can help you do just that.

Access a Question Bank

Believe it or not, question banks are wonderful tools for students who are struggling to grasp certain concepts or topics in their studies. Before choosing one, take a look at the various features it offers. The goal is to ensure that the software allows you to customize your experience so that you can focus your studies on the topic or topics that give you the most trouble. Even better, that software should also give you answers to questions you miss along with a detailed explanation, references, and a place to take your own notes.

Utilize Your Course Forums & Discussion Boards

Course forums and discussion boards have been important tools for students for many years – even long before COVID-19. They allow students to discuss topics amongst themselves and help one another in a virtual sense, which is important in today’s world. Simply search the forums for posts about the topic you’re struggling with, and if not, create a post to ask for help. Be specific about your needs so that the right people can provide you with the information you need and be sure to cross-check any facts provided to you with internet searches.

It’s easy to feel frustrated or defeated when you find yourself stuck on a difficult topic during your medical studies, but fortunately, there’s no hurdle that a determined student can’t overcome. Use all the resources that are available to you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.