Firehose of Information

When people in Medical School talk about the firehose of information that they have to ingest in medical school, it is very intimidating. How many hours do most medical students study?



Ditto this question - I’ve been apprehensive about this too.

Honestly, as many as you can stand. Some of us (including me) also need a little non-study time in order for the things we have studied to arrange themselves in our heads while we’re doing other things. So I study a few hours a day, and that’s it. Some days I accomplish nothing at all. I’m spending a lot more time studying right now, because I’m studying for boards and have no lectures to break up my day.

My roommate, on the other hand, leaves the house with food and two thermoses full of coffee before I wake up, locks herself in a study room at school, maybe comes home for a snack around 3ish, and then comes home usually when I’m going to bed.

I think we’re getting about the same grades. Her method would not work for me and mine would not work for her.

We’re all so different that I can’t begin to tell you what to expect.

  • In reply to:
We're all so different that I can't begin to tell you what to expect.

I agree totally with what Denise said above. Every student in med school has to learn what works for them and what doesn't.

For me, in a PBL format and not a lecture based system, I spent about 8 hours a day with my books; but we only had about 16 hours of in-class time a week (9 of PBL group time; 3 of OMM lecture; 4 of OMM lab). I always tried to allow time for church on Sundays, because itwas important to me.

Students in the SBL, or lecture based, track were in class almost all day, every day. A lot of them spent a great deal of time in the evenings studying their stuff from the days classes.

But, like Denise said and I agreed to: Everyone has to learn what works best for them.

Thanks for the response and insight, but I always wondered how much people are actually talking about when they talk about being overwhelmed with information in the pre-clinical years. For example, how many anatomical terms does one learn. Is it hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands?


It’s not the terms, it’s the integration of information. The only thing I’ve encountered that I found analogous in another career was my son’s NATOPS manual for his training as a Navy pilot. You have to know a whole bunch of stuff AND you have to know how each piece of stuff relates to all the other pieces of stuff.

Facts and terms are easy.

I would say it is the equivalent of learning, by heart, a several-hundred-pages-lon g textbook and being able to lecture from it - for hours and hours and hours - without referring to notes.

Thanks Mary- That is a very interesting and concrete way to put it. It now puts it all into perspective.

Best Regards,


I have two distinct points on this that I will post separately

First directly to your question. Actually, the step prior to what Mary mentioned is the first hurdle. It is having a cognitive map of how to take the information in. Formally, I believe the process is knowledge, integration, synthesis

Imagine going to the supermarket and buying two dozen bags filled with assorted groceries. That is equivalent to gaining knowledge. If you dumped them all on the floor they basically would be a big heap of stuff you’d have to go thru every time you needed something.

So instead, you have cabinets, shelves, refrigerator, freezer, etc so things are stored and organized. So you integrate the knowledge into your system/process

Now, when you cook a meal, you take items from appropriate location and you synthesize a meal (or apply your integrated knowledge).

I don’t know where you are in the process but if you are premed there are a few practical points to help once you are accepted and have time before matriculation. You can start with a medical terminology workbook. You can get used on Amazon for a few bucks. Additionally, you can get a few of the outlines/review books for some of the basic science courses you’ll be in the first 2 years of med school. What these do I find is help set up you cognitive map or how to start thinking and storing the fire hose of info you’ll be getting

Ummm- I would say about six? I tend to do an hour and a half before school and then about five or so in the afternoon. More right before a test, less on a Friday night when (yes, Virginia) I go out.

The best way to cut your average independent study time is to concentrate hard on the four hours of class. With our MTV-generation attention spans, surprisingly few people seem to be able to do this… a lot of people (not me!!!) find it more acaemically rigorous to skip and listen to audio lectures all day with the invaluable Pause button.

It’s great to get such an overwhelming and clear response to my question.