skipping lectures? hesitating!

Finally started med school classes today! Most of it was great, but one of our lecturers (cell bio) is truly awful. Disorganized, incomprehensible, confusing even to the people who already understand the lecture topics.
This faculty member is teaching about another 10 hours over the next couple of weeks. I know that lots of people recommend skipping class under those conditions and studying from the notes instead. We have very clear learning objectives and are tested directly on those topics.
I just can’t believe that I, a keen and diligent student, am already jumping ship! O experienced OPMers, please give me some guidance here.

Congrats on starting medical school! I’ve found that I do things in medical school that I didn’t think I would. Not do the assigned reading? Not go to every class?
You have to do what works for you. If the lecture isn’t helping, then skip it. I did that with one teacher who was really bad (disorganized, giving irrevelent information, etc) and outlined the book instead. I am an avid class-goer, so I was worried about it too. Your time is precious though, so do what’s most efficient.
Best of luck!

Hi there,
During first year, I attended almost every lecture. I took detailed notes and was often the official note taker for most of the classes. I type very fast and was able to type faster than many people are able to speak.
During second year, I hardly attended a class. I only went to some pharm lectures and most every Pathology lecture. I loved Path because it was very visual. I actually did better on exams during second year than first year when I went to all the classes.
You have to pick your learning style. Most of the information that you actually need is in your syllabi and texts. You don’t have to sit in class if there is no compelling reason. If you have a good note-taking service (we did) you don’t really have to go at all.

the only caveat from a strictly strategic point of view is that you want to know what this teacher thinks is important so that you can do OK on his test, and not get held up with making up for the obstacle he creates. Outlines, class notes, copies of the powerpoints, and so on, should do the trick.

Thanks everyone - that’s great advice!
I skipped 4 hours of classes and worked at home, using the learning objectives, the lecturer’s powerpoint slides, and the textbooks. I can get through an hour of class material in about 2 hours, and feel good about understanding the material…my classmates used the words “dreadful” “horrible” “awful” and “I fell asleep” to describe today’s lecture…
it’s great to have your feedback, or I would be afraid to leave the lecture hall in case something Really Important happened!

Hi there,
This is the same feeling that I experiened second year. The material is pretty standard. As long as you have a syllabus that is complete, your text and you Powerpoint note/slides, you can really get more done at home rather than sitting in lectures.
While you are sitting in lectures, you are not actively learning. When you start grinding through the material at home, you start to actively learn the material. It is no wonder that many first year students believe that they don’t retain anything and start to re-memorize stuff for USMLE.
Remember, USMLE is not a test of memorization though you need to have a good knowledge base to do well on the test. Like MCAT, it is a test of application of knowledge. Once you get the “hang” of study in medicine, you can start to really excell on these types of tests. Resist the urge to memorize large amounts of lists and really hone your understanding of material that is in you syllabus.
Like I said, I became more effective second year because I really set my own learning style which has served me well into practice. Experiment and be willing to change if things are not working for you. Also, be sure that you touch base with your classmates to make sure that you know where the emphasis of the lectures were. Some professors will test from their lectures so don’t get caught here.
Good luck!

I can see that this will be a HUGE dilemma for me! I am very much the kind of student who feels that I HAVE to go to lecture, or else I’ll fail the course. During undergrad, it never failed that if I skipped lecture, (1) I wasn’t studying on my own, and (2) my grades dropped.

Personally, I need that face to face time with the prof, and I’m very much a visual learner. I like having the material presented to me. I’m also very good at retaining what I see and hear in lecture.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day, it seems, to do it all, but I definitely plan on attending lectures next year.

At least you have skipping as an option. Consider yourself lucky. At my school classes are mandatory. You can’t skip and if you aren’t in class you must go to the assoc dean and get an excuse slip which is then signed by your profs.
I had to take a phone call yesterday (my daughter fell and broke her leg) from my daughter’s orthopedist. I walked out very quietly but the prof stopped talking and watched me leave and then watched me walk all the way back to my seat when I returned. How embarrassing. It’s not like I was making noise as I was walking, but the prof obviously wanted me to know I had disrupted her lecture
So consider yourself lucky to be able to skip. Glad you were able to get 4 hours of lecture done in 2 hours.

Amy!!! I trust your daughter is going to be okay? What happened? MY daughter, freshman at VCU in Richmond, stepped funny off her flip-flops on an uneven brick sidewalk and broke her foot after two days of classes. I was pretty worried about her ability to walk to dining hall, different classes in different buildings, etc. but she is doing okay. I hope your daughter has an uneventful recovery.

She fell off her bike. I didn’t even realize her leg was hurt. I helped her into the house and worked on cleaning the blood off her knee. Picking rocks and debris from your kids is not a pleasent thing to have to do. After I finshed cleaning her up and determining that she didn’t need sutures I noticed her ankle starting to swell. She broke the distal end of her fibula. She is a dancer and she dances competitively so this was a worry. The ortho doc said she should heal 100% and can dance in 6 weeks.
When I read your post I felt like deja vu. When I was at VCU a young girlalso a freshman fell on the uneven sidewalk and broke her ankle. I was one of the only people who stopped and helped her. I called 911, picked up her things that had fallen all over and comforted her until the ambulance arrived. This was a few years ago. Are you saying your daughter just did this? When will VCU fix their stupid, uneven sidewalks. I fell 4 years ago and cut my leg all because of the sidewalk. Ggrrrr.
I am glad your daughter is better. Especially since the campus and parking and dining are spread out so far apart. VCU needs to be sued a few times so that maybe they will fix the problems.
BUT on a happier note, MY HUBBY GOT A JOB HERE!!! yipppeeeeeee. He has been living in northern VA and only coming home on weekends for 3 loooong months. Tomorrow he comes home for good. It has been very very very hard on him. I don;t know how much more he could take. So anyway we are much happier now. Thanks for all of you who have been here for me to talk to about this.
Oh and sorry I kinda highjacked your thread about skipping classes.

I’m going to put myself out there with this one–but here’s a dissenting opinion, or at least something to give thought to.
I think there is a certain obligation each of us as students has to attend lectures, if not for ourselves, then out of respect for the lecturer, regardless of our personal opinions of the effectiveness of the lecturer. Ascertaining ways to gain knowledge from even the most difficult of situations is a great skill to develop (one I’m still definitely working on,) and will, in my humble opinion, be incredibly beneficial as a physician.
Just my two cents.

Hi there,
In most medical schools, attendance at lectures is not mandatory and has nothing to do with respect for or lack of respect for the lecturer. Most medical school lecturers, myself included, could care less about who is sitting in class. All I ask is that you sit and be quiet if you choose to attend.
There are noteservices, taped lectures, syllabi and lecture handouts that cover most of the material. By the time you get to medical school, most lecturers don’t care if you attend class or do not attend class but master the material. If you are not a “class attendance” type of learner, then your time is best spent at home.
At the four medical schools that I have direct experience with both as an instructor and as a student, the faculty would not be so paternalistic as to require a student to attend class. The students find their learning style and go from there.


Ascertaining ways to gain knowledge from even the most difficult of situations is a great skill to develop (one I’m still definitely working on,) and will, in my humble opinion, be incredibly beneficial as a physician.
Just my two cents.

Actually the key skill to develop as a physician is how to learn the most efficiently - i.e. QUICKLY. You will rarely have time to indulge someone or something that isn’t meeting your educational needs. Figuring out the best way for you to learn information that you can use effectively - whether that’s always going to lectures, never going to lectures, or some sort of customized setup - is one of the important lessons of med school.