Many medical school students have doubts about behavioral sciences, feeling it isn’t necessary or that it isn’t exactly “real” science. However, behavioral sciences are an extremely important branch of medicine, especially related to psychology, psychobiology, and even neurology. Understanding the importance of behavioral science as an interdisciplinary subject may help you find the motivation for studying this subject. Whether you like it or not – behavioral sciences are part of the curriculum in a majority of the medical schools around the world, and to become a doctor you will have to pass the course. To help you get better at studying behavioral sciences, we have prepared this list of tips and tricks!
First things first – what are behavioral sciences?
Behavioral sciences is a very wide discipline, often intermingling with others. At its basics, behavioral sciences are about the exploration of the cognitive processes within human and animal organisms, as well as the behavioral interactions between them. Through observation and controlled experimentation, behavioral sciences are striving to create models and patterns of human and animal behavior.
Even though behavior is not something you can take out of the human body and see, the knowledge of certain patterns may help determine conditions and diseases, especially related to psychiatry and neurology. Behavioral sciences are also very strict, as they include very rigorous formulations and methods of observation to achieve objective conclusions. Behavioral sciences are divided into two main categories: neural and social. As a medical student, your main area of interest will be neural behavioral sciences – those regarding information processing.
At your medical school, you will be most concerned about the processing of stimuli by neural networks. Understanding the rudiments of behavioral science will help you better understand your patients and their various issues, allowing you to handle noncompliance better, but also such phenomena as doctor shopping, functional pain, addiction, psychosomatic complaints, and more. These concepts are very often part of various clinical examinations in medical schools, so understanding behavioral sciences behind them is very important if you want to pass.
Tips on studying behavioral sciences
One of the best methods of keeping up with the subject is simply reviewing the material regularly. For most lectures, you will be assigned a text to read – be it a chapter from a research paper or a part of a textbook. Always read the material, as your teacher will be discussing it in earnest during the lecture. While the teacher won’t have time to cover all of the material that was in the reading, you will have already read all of it. Your teacher will explain the more complex concepts found in the reading, but you can always ask the teacher for help if there was something in the material you did not understand.
Revise regularly – to keep up with the volume of information at a medical school, daily reviews will be necessary. However, you don’t have to study exactly behavioral sciences every day – you still have other subjects to worry about! Instead, plan ahead and make a schedule. Think about what you will be studying every day of the week and stick to that plan. This way, you can make sure you have enough time to study every subject – including behavioral sciences.
As you study, keep checking which method of learning works best for you: visual, auditory, or tactile. If you work best with visual aids, make yourself graphs and mind maps – these are excellent tools that are quick and easy to make. If that doesn’t suit you, try repeating the material out loud. Discuss with other students the same material and share your findings and what you find hard to memorize. You can also try pacing as you revise, or even bringing your textbook with you on a treadmill. For many students, chewing gum may help with distractions that would otherwise take their eyes off the task.
Another great way to keep up with behavioral sciences is to test yourself frequently – you can do that easily with QUPI! QUPI is an extensive databank of medical questions, consisting of over 10,000 practice questions from a variety of subjects, including behavioral sciences.