October 31, 2018

Rinse & Repeat | Studying With Intention


I get many messages from students who have issues with retaining reading content after hours and hours of studying. So, I wanted to make a quick little post about my rinse and repeat process. By rinse and repeat, I mean, studying and the content within your knowledge vault being absorbed. Then when needed, I can recall the information successfully.

When I sit down to study any disease process, I focus on one word. Why. Why is this happening? I remember my husband sleeping at the hospital after his CABG surgery and the nurse practitioner walking in for morning grand-rounds. I asked her this very question (why did this happen?), and she sat down and went over coronary blood flow, his occlusions, physical presentations related to said occlusions, and the subsequent events. After she answered the why component, everything else fell into place for me. I no longer had to ask about statins or how inflammation and diabetes affected his cardiac tissue. It was a continuum and revolved around understanding the disease process in its entirety, rather than lists of information without links or connections. The why is a simple phrase, but it comes with layers and layers of understanding. As a person who is still in school, answering why has helped me to pass exams and grow as a nurse. For example, everyone knows what tachycardia is but do you know why it occurs, in relation to hypovolemia? Yes, it is an elevation in heart rate but why is the heart responding in this manner? What told the body to react in this fashion? Well, tachycardia is a compensatory mechanism the body uses to maintain cardiac output when stroke volume is low. Once you understand the compensatory mechanisms of the body, you will then understand the why in many disease processes. When a patient has a gunshot wound and is losing blood, tachycardia occurs because the body is attempting to assist in maintaining cardiac output in a time of crisis. These concepts aren't concrete. What other ways does the body try to assist itself? The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) is one. Don't focus on lists and random facts, focus on understanding how our body truly functions and maintains themself.

When studying, try to link things together like a chain and begin with answering why. I have many books, but I get most of my why questions answered from pathophysiology textbooks. They aren't the most exciting reads, but boy do things click after reading them. Also, stop looking for multiple sources of information (initially) and start with the required reading in your course. Too often, students will YouTube something rather than reading the required course material. You'd be surprised how many students will be failing, and I'll ask them if they've done the necessary reading and they say no. No reading, no full grasp of the content and you are surprised you are having issues? Supplemental material is excellent, but it's supplemental and based on your fully understanding basic fundamentals. If you don't have those fundamentals, you will be lost. Listen, I'm on YouTube, I love when you watch my videos, BUT I'm not you. I'm not in your course, and I'm not your teacher. Do the required reading, then come on over if you have additional questions. Don't blow off reading though. It unlocks so many things. I'll skim a chapter, YouTube for hours and my professor brings up something I ignored when reading and BAM, it all clicks! I get it, YouTube is exciting and you can turn it on and do other things. But some topics require your undivided attention initially.

Stop with the shortcuts, read and get to the why. You might have a crappy teacher, you might be swamped at work, but the course content is there for a reason. It is there, so you understand why and work toward disease management. You can't go backward, focusing on statin drug names and cholesterol levels if you have no idea where hyperlipidemia stems from and it's origin concerning healthcare. The human body is a complex machine, but this isn't rocket science. Stop short changing yourself and sit down and dig deep. Once you have that level of understanding, you rinse and repeat. Meaning, use your foundations to understand the disease processes, rather than being able to ramble off signs and symptoms with no real understanding of why they are happening in the first place. In the end, you must study with intention and not merely go through the motions. Be smart with your time and use it wisely.