Cranial Nerves

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cranial Nerves

It is Sunday morning around 10am and as I sit in my wonderfully tiny abode, I am surrounded by textbooks, highlighters, a white board, and various colours of markers. The time has officially come for me to start my studying, and sadly, I could not be more excited.

My course does not start until the first week of December, so "why is she studying?" you may ask yourself..and for an ingenious reply, I say "because I'm Emma Cronk." For the people that know me, I study because I actually enjoy it. I read to learn. I do not read casually, I do not "read for fun" like my little sister who finished all The Hunger Games books in about five days (crazy girl!). I have learned to read with intent on learning something, and I have always been that way. Not saying curling up on a couch with some tea and a great novel is a bad thing, it is just something that I have not been able to do ever in my life. Throughout undergrad, I had to read frantically to keep up to the pace of basketball and my courses, I had no time to grab an interesting read and sneak away into the library, I had to study to make up for lost time in the classroom. As I sit here now with all of my books open in front of me, I can't help but sit back and remember the last time Iactually studied. Yes I studied for my MCAT, which was brutal, and yes I studied for my CPR-C course and Standard First Aid, but when was the last time I was really excited about the material and information was easy to grasp because so? That would be the year 2011. Way back. I say way back because in a couple months that will be four years I still have what it takes to study? Do I even remember how to do it? Do I still have the discipline to get up at 6am and look over my material?

The answers to these questions were answered loud and clear on Friday night when I was studying cranial nerves. Yes...this was my exciting Friday night. I had read in numerous blogs and from asking advice from current and past medical students that buying a white board with markers is the BEST studying tool. It is a form of active studying, rather than passive studying. The difference is huge. For example, you can read a textbook in a stationary position for hours, maybe underlining some key phrases or maybe even highlighting, but are you really learning the material? Has it really sunk in? This is what I call passive studying, as you are not fully engaging your brain about the material. When you are up at a white board, you are moving, you are engaged, you are writing out important phrases and drawing images over and over and over again. You are using your brain's full capacity. You are actively studying the material so your brain can reiterate it on a quiz or exam. For me, writing things out over and over again ingrains it in my mind, and for medical school, you can not just memorize verbatim, you need to be able to understand how all the information ties into one another. So there I am, cracking open my brand new "Essential Clinic Anatomy" textbook for the first time since purchasing it ($15 down from $100..booyah!...gotta love Amazon) and opening the chapter to cranial nerves. For current MERPers and past MERPers, (the course that I am enrolled in before I attend Ross University), they say if you are eager and want to look over material before you begin, study glycolysis, TCA, and cranial nerves. Those will haunt you forever in your medical school path and give students a lot of trouble. Throughout my undergrad and majoring in Biology, my glycolysis background is pretty strong, as well as TCA also called citric acid cycle or Krebs cycle, so I thought I would start with the cranial nerves. All 12 of them. Yikes. Here is my mnemonic:


So rude eh? haha But I found that many medical students need some enlightenment from all the studying they are doing, that almost every mnemonic has some rude connotation! Hilarious and it definitely helps with remembering. If you are ever bored, I promise you, you will get a kick out of googling some medical mnemonics. So what are the nerves?

Accessory Spinal/Spinal accessory nerve

I did that without looking at my notes! That was since Friday night. I think I have them memorized. What I learned from Friday and the fact of studying pretty hard four years later, is that I have nothing to worry about. I learned the nerves and most of their function by writing them on the white board only twice. Fortunately, I have a photographic memory, meaning I can remember the terms I had written previously even when the white board is blank. I remember how to train my brain to study, and by using this white board and coloured markers, I am ready to tackle this material. I got excited knowing it came back to me really quickly, and it felt good knowing I still got it :) For all students, high school, medical, law, or still in undergrad, I fully believe that our brains are structured to learn anything we want to, no matter how complex. If you need a change from the traditional passive studying, buy yourself a white board, get in a group and start practicing. It will honestly change the way you learn material. It definitely worked for me in the past, and even more so now.

Off to dive in a bit deeper with our amazing brain of ours, wow we are complicated beings, but I don't need to be in medical school to know that!

Bye for now,

--E xo