Prepping and how I study

I’ve already talked about my improved study techniques but today I’m going to talk about the three things that made the biggest difference in my results!

1 Preparing notes ahead

When i go to lectures I make sure that I’ve done everything ahead of time. If i don’t i’m just waisting my time and the professors time. Preparation is key. I like to make notes ahead of time and take those to class. Some people prefer reading through their notes, I do this when I don’t have enough time to type out my notes but this works great as well.

Along with this I reread all of these notes while going home. I take public transport so I often wait for my bus or metro. Those 5 minutes make a difference. It’s small but all small bits help! The time I need to get home varies but I spend an average of 1hour to 1hour30 to get home. Instead of waisting i try to benefit from that.

2 Visuals (other sources)

For medicine looking out for other sources is a good way to look at your courses differently. Especially if you don’t know the difference between things that are more important and things that are not. I watch a ton of videos and if there are things in my course that other videos emphasize on it means that it’s probably quite important. I personally loved ‘Shomu’s biology’ on youtube because he’s able to explain quite difficult concepts in an easy way.

3 Reading

Not only reading through your own course or textbooks but using other medical books is a great way to retain difficult topics. Different books often explain concepts differently and that is something that may or may not work for you.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Let me know what your tips are in the comment section down below.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe


Changing my study method

The new school year has begun for some of you and I wanted to update you on my new study method since it might help you! I’ve switched it up quite a lot and I’ve finally found a good way to make sure that I know my courses better. Since courses in med school are quite voluminous having a good study technique really makes a difference. I make sure that during class I write down what’s important. I follow the slides that are projected on a big screen and make sure that I listen to what the professor says. That way I can understand the most important concepts in our books.

The studying process is something that’s often pushed back to the weekend. Before studying I read my notes and then start. Everything in these courses is valuable information and needs to be known. There is no such thing as more important/less important (unfortunately 😦 )! Instead of just using one study method I now use a combination of different techniques. This helps me to make a difference in concepts I fully and concepts that need more time.

First method: there are parts of my books that I read multiple times and make sure that I understand what I’m reading. This doesn’t take a lot of time and I do this multiple times per day or even per week to make sure that I still know what the course is all about.

The second method that I like, is making question sheets on a part of my course. I make these sheets for parts of my course that I have trouble memorizing and I’ve noticed that this technique forces me to really actively read and my notes. I only do this for several parts of my courses because writing questions down takes up time.

Last but not least the third technique I use is making resumes of my printed notes. I personally don’t advise going for this technique in med school. I feel like while making these I’m not actively thinking about the subject I’m studying. Making resumes doesn’t only take a lot of time it makes you have less time to revise and consolidate the information – this technique didn’t work as well for me as the other two techniques but I do like to make these before going into my classes.

The key to these techniques is not about the time you put in making them. It’s about actively making them and thinking about everything that’s important. Active studying is more efficient and will help you memorize everything faster.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Let me know what study technique you prefer in the comment section down below!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Book review: The man who mistook his wife for a hat

I recently red the book ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat’ written by Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist. Oliver sacks is quite a famous writer, he has written 14 books of which 7 were made into a movie. This specific book was written in 1985 and it consists of 24 cases in which different neurological issues are being discussed.

The book is divided into four categories that each talk about a specific neurological issue. Part one deals with losses, part two with excess, part three transports (about perception, imagination, dreams,…) and part four the world of the simple (how ‘simple’ people understand remarkable concepts).

I’m going to talk about one of these stories because it stood out to me. It’s the story of Jose, the autist artist. This is written in chapter four – the world of the simple. Jose was a 21 year old male who was said to be retarded and had seizures which caused him to be hospitalized. During his examination he was asked to draw a pocket watch which he drew remarkably well. Dr. Sacks was amazed by this and wanted to learn more about this patient. He wanted to see more drawings and asked Jose to draw some more and again his drawings were really nice.
It appeared that Jose was indeed autistic, but that he was quite talented. He could draw, remember what he drew and he was able make adaptations to his drawings.
This story definitely stood out for me because it just goes to show that there is a whole world to people that often stays unnoticed, even for many many years.
The drawings are included in the book but I wanted to show you an example. On the left we see the picture, on the right the drawing that Jose made.

Schermafbeelding 2017-07-30 om 10.08.55
There are many more extraordinary stories written in this book. It’s an easy read making it is a book that will appeal to a lot of people. Difficult concepts are all explained in the book making the book fit for anyone interested in knowing more about brain related issues.
For those wanting to learn or read more about neurological problems, there are also a lot of references to other scientifical books. Especially Loeria (neuropsychologist) and Jackson (neurologist) are writers who are often referred to.

For me this was such an interesting book that I was able to finish it within the day. It is therefore no surprise that I strongly advise you to read this book.

Lots of love
A doctor in spe

Medical stationary gifts

I recently saw a picture on Instagram that had bone balpens and while I was searching for these I came across these amazing school/college supplies. Most of these would make great gifts and they can be found on various sites such as Aliexpress, Amazon and Etsy. So without further ado here are some great gifts for medical students.

gift renew.png

1. Sticky notes
I found these great sticky notes on Amazon, these are pricier than your regular sticky notes but they’re unique and quirky. There are quite a few options to choose from so definitely check these out!
Link: Amazon

2. Memo holder
This is definitely the most unique gift out on this list. It’s a brain shaped memo holder made out of concrete. These are made in the Netherlands and you can find these on Etsy or on the manufacturers site.
Link: Manufacturers site
Link: Etsy

3. Pen
A funny gift for students who are tackling anatomy and learning all bones in the human body. These balpens are quite affordable and can be found on Amazon and on Aliexpress.
Note: since Aliexpress can sometimes be unreliable I’ve tried to filter out two companies that have sold the most and had the best reviews.
Link: Aliexpress
Link: Aliexpress
Link: Amazon

4. Erasers
I found these cool brain shaped eraser tops on Amazon but you can also buy these on Etsy. They come in different colours and are a great addition to your medical stationary.
Link: Amazon
Link: Etsy

5. Tape
I never knew about DNA tape but it’s a clever take on regular tape. You can use this to decorate your note books. This tape also comes in a spinal tape version and you can buy both of these together on Amazon.
Link DNA tape: Amazon
Link spinal tape: Amazon

6. Markers
These come in many different shapes but two stood out to me. The first were pill shaped markers. I personally loved these from Amazon because of the bottle they came in.
The second shape were syringe shaped markers which you can find almost everywhere.
Link pill markers: Amazon
Link syringe markers: Amazon

I hope you enjoyed this stationary as much as I did! Let me know in the comment section which stationary item you liked most.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

When breath becomes air 

I’ve tried re-writing this one a few too many times but that’s only because I felt like this review didn’t do justice to the book. It still doesn’t but here we go.

The book ‘When breath becomes air’ is an autobiography written by Paul Kalanithi. It’s the story of a neurosurgeon who gets diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He starts thinking about ‘living a meaningful life’ and he wonders what it takes to achieve one. As he starts cancer treatment he tells about his struggles, his thoughts and his feelings.

The book is magnificently written and it’s ending is bittersweet. It’s book that definitely deserved the attention it got. There were a lot of things I loved about this book but I mainly want to talk about what I learned from it.

  • I learned that life is short, full of unexpected things sometimes the worst things in life come together with the best and if you’re lucky you’ll be around to see the good. If not it’s up to you to create good things in the middle of bad ones!
  • I learned that humans often live life as if life is endless. We even postpone the thought of death itself until someone around us dies. When you think about it there isn’t a single person in the world who is completely ready to die at any given day. There is always something more we want to do, something more we want to realize.
  • I learned that when bad things happen and we get knocked down, we need to keep going and keep pushing.
  • I learned that the best way to live a meaningful life is to give it your absolute best every single time no matter how hard life gets. It’s often easier said than done but it’s all we can do.

I hope you enjoyed this blogpost! I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s a remarkable story that left it’s imprint on me and I’m sure that you’ll find it as special as I did.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe


Preparing for retake exams

As you all know I’ll be on vacation but for students who need to retake exams I wanted to write this blogpost. Retake exams are not fun and you often have less time for retake exams, than for exams you take during the year. It’s important in medical school to pass retake exams or you won’t be able to follow all courses from the following year.

1. Look at what went wrong first
Since you have retake exams it means that something went wrong the first time. Therefore it’s important to take a look at your exams and see what went wrong. There are feedback moments, there are professors who will help and guide you through the process. They will be able to tell you what went wrong and thus what you can do better next time.

2. Make a good schedule
I made a timetable for my vacation. I have already spend a good amount of time relaxing. It’s important to make a timetable that you will follow. You need to divide your time well and make sure that you keep to your schedule. You don’t want to retake these exams again next year.
When I had retakes I would study for three days and take one day off. That’s how I stayed positive and kept on studying during my vacation.

3. How to use your notes
Before studying make sure to have all of your notes present. Do not rewrite them because that is just a way to procrastinate the actual study process.
If there are mistakes on your notes write those in red so you don’t make them again.
If you don’t have notes, ask your classmates for help! I miserably failed the easiest class last year and I was lucky enough to borrow someone else’s notes.

4. Too many retake exams
Students with 7-8 retake exams often end up taking all of their exams. In the end they fail with 45/100 which is really sad in my opinion. If you know you won’t be able to pass all of your exams, or you have too many try to prioritize your classes!

5. Don’t get demotivated
It’s important to keep your goals in front of you because they will motivate you for me a simple inspiration board works. When I’m really not feeling it I’ll take a day off (this is usually planned in my schedule). Taking a day off will help you get motivated back again.

Last but not least I hope that you do well on your retake exams! If you have some tips for retake exams leave them in comment section down below because they can help other students ;). If you liked this article press the like button down below.

Lots of love
– A doctor in spe

Review: how doctors think

As some of you might know I wanted to read a lot of books this summer. I personally liked going for books related to the medical field hoping that I’ll learn from them. I recently made up my entire book list and I’ve already started reading some books. The first one I’ll be reviewing is ‘How doctors think’ and was written by Jerome Groopman M.D. This book has received the quill award for health/self improvement.

The title of the book is quite self-explanatory and though I’m not a doctor yet I figured that this book had to contain some valuable information on the topic. I don’t mean to spoil the book but the book reveals it goal in the first chapters. Students who eventually become doctors struggle with the transition from books to real cases but even older doctors make mistakes. The book gives a ton of anecdotes on the subject to try and show what went wrong with the diagnoses and how doctors can avoid making mistakes.

There are a few things I liked and learned from this book
… I liked the cases that were discussed and that there were a lot of them. Each case was different but the general conclusion was the same
… I liked that there were reasons given on how doctors make small mistakes. However it’s obvious that every human makes mistakes. The thing is that we can all learn from others’ mistakes and thus we can all learn from this book
… I liked the structure of the cases. Each case had a lot of explanation that accompanied it. There was a clear structure.
… I most definitely liked the advise that was given: think in the other direction when somebody comes with complaints. They have headache? Don’t think that it’s just due to tension look further!
More importantly I feel like this book is good for students starting residency. It’ll show you how patients reveal very small clues that are often misinterpreted. Small things like words or signs that make a big difference. It can also show you how confidence can form an issue. Leading to confirmation bias is the enemy here!

I would advise any medical student to read this book because it shows that small things that patients say can mean an entire spectrum of things and that it’s important to try and look for a correct diagnoses instead of assuming the first solution or the most common solution is correct. It’s important to keep all possible diagnoses open and think further than you normally would when diagnosing patients.

Though I’m on vacation definitely leave a comment in the comment section down below telling me what you’re favorite books are.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe ❤

A medical compendium 

I recently found out about a kickstarter campaign that I thought you might find quite interesting. Two medical students from the Netherlands called Veerle Smit and Romée Snijders decided that the books they used to study medicine were often confusing and contained a lot of information without giving a proper overview on the subjects. They decided to make a Dutch compendium in collaboration with medical students and specialists and eventually published their book ‘compendium geneeskunde’ in september 2016.

At this point you might wonder why I’m talking about this campaign because the book is already published and it’s not really something that could interest international med or premed students since it’s written in Dutch.

Well… The goal of their kickstarter campaign is to change that. They want to raise money to make a complete English (and thus international) version of their book. The book will have the same structure as the Dutch version. It will be a compendium consisting of 4 books. Each book contains different chapters and at the end you’ll be able to test yourself on the information you just read.


If you happen to be a medical/premed student or if you just want to know a little bit more about basically anything medicine-related I would recommend supporting their kickstarter campagin and buy a 4-part compendium. The prices of these books are amazing and you’ll receive the first ever English version which in my opinion makes it a bit more special. I’m leaving the link to this campaign everywhere on this page 😉 so definitely go check it out!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Motivational quotes

The last motivational video I put on this blog seemed to be a succes! So I decided to make another one only this time I’ll be giving you my favorite medical/inspirational/motivational quotes. I’ve listed a few that inspired me 🙂 .

  • Skill is achieved through practice. Work hard and dedicate yourself to being better every single day. – Will Smith
  • She was unstoppable, not because she not have failures or doubt but because she continued on despite them. -B. Taplin
  • You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give. – E.O. Wilson
  • Medicine is only for those who can’t imagine doing anything else. -L. Grazette
  • I’ve got a dream and it’s worth more than my sleep.


I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Whenever I’m feeling a little down these lift me back up. Somehow they make me smile and help me focus on my goals. Leave your favorite quotes in the comments down below! I’d love to read them :).

Lots of love
– A doctor in spe

Challenge update

I’ve noticed quite a few things on this challenge. The main one is that I didn’t follow the perfection plan 100%. I get tired and lazy too and sometimes I really need a day off. But while trying to attain these habits I benefitted a lot.

1. I am way behind with studying
I’m not sure how but somehow I got way behind on anatomy. The thing is that I focus a lot on small details and I don’t want to move on if I don’t know everything just yet. As a result I’m way behind on schedule and I’ll try to get on track asap.

I currently make mini to-do lists and cross what I’ve finished. I have a lot of courses that follow quickly during my exams so I need to start cramming – which is something I wish I could’ve avoided.

2. Social media
I still use Facebook, mostly for educational purposes. For example talking to my mentor or planning a session for physics or chemistry. It’s still very hard to leave all the other things alone though! For some reason people reach out to me to answer questions so I end up having about 10 messages about courses in the evening.

I try to track as much of this challenge on Instagram if you want to ‘follow’ me during this period. I don’t always update pictures but there are a few @Doctorinspe. I try to not pay too much attention to making these pictures look nice. I’ve got better things to do with my time than organizing food and taking pretty pictures. Also I use an app called daymine which automatically sets the date and time so I kind of oblige myself to keep up.

Another thing I did was check the news quite often. There are rector elections currently and both parties are a bad choice for our university -in my opinion. I even felt ashamed of the arguments they used. I can’t believe that these people might become our rector.

3. Healthy food
Since I live at home I’m bound to eat whatever my family is eating and I do respect that. I don’t expect my mother to make something different just for me. This however means that if we’re having french fries I need to eat that too. Yesterday it was mothers day and my mom made a cake, two batches of cupcakes and brownies. Needless to say I couldn’t resist (shoutout to my mom who cooked on her own mothersday).

I also craved chocolate a lot! I made sure that the chocolate I ate was pure (and I do check the label to get 70-80% chocolate) but I have to admit that I also ate Kinder Bueno which is very sweet (but soooo gooooood!).

If I don’t have enough time for breakfast I’ll replace it with a smoothie. It takes me under 5 minutes to make one so I know what I’ll be drinking during my exams.

4. Working out
The past week I went bicycling once and went for a run once. Before sleeping I also did some yoga.
I’ve pushed working out to the weekend which was not a good idea at all. I always assumed that working out took a lot of time but when put in perspective it honestly is not that bad! It usually takes me 15-30 minutes per workout session which is completely fine if you ask me.

5. Sleeping habits
Creating good sleep habits felt weird. I used to have a natural clock which woke me up very early. Even as a kid I’d wake up early in the morning but during high school and university my clock shifted and I would sleep through because I didn’t have anything to do. I set my alarm at 6:00 but because of the pressure and stress I always woke up earlier. My natural clock wakes me up before 6:00 a.m. so I’m quite lucky. If I’m really tired, I’ll wake up at around 8:15.

All in all this challenge was obviously a lot of work. Putting in a 100% everyday was very exhausting and I came to class feeling tired. The thing is that it made me realize the importance of hard work. Everyone can achieve everything they want as long as they are willing to put the effort and hard work in it. It’ll be a struggle but it’ll make the end goal worth it even more. I’m going tot keep trying to put this much effort in everything I do. This challenge will be going on until I go on a hopefully well-deserved vacation.
During my vacation I’ll try to upload something but I prefer to enjoy my vacation. Especially after all of the work I’ll be putting in now. I hope you enjoyed this article :).

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe