Medical school is a time for intense concentration. There are reams of Latin words to translate, endless structures to visualize, and countless mechanisms to understand. In order to absorb all of this information, students need to get into their “zone,” a mental and physical space that allows for efficient internalization of material.
Getting there can be a challenge, especially if the material is somewhat dry (which, of course, is never the case in medical school). There are a lot of factors influencing entry into the zone, both in terms of the physical study space (i.e. average decibel level, amount of natural light, acceptance of social interaction, etc.) and in terms of the mental state of the participant (i.e. hours slept, interest in the material, blood caffeine levels, etc.).
The difficulty for schools, whose mission is to help students learn the given information, is that each individual reaches his or her zone in different ways. To give each student the best chance to succeed, schools have many study spaces to choose from, each with distinct traits.
With finals upon us, I thought it would be useful to profile the most popular study spaces for medical students on the University of Minnesota Medical School – Twin Cities campus. Consider this a sort of consumer’s guide to finding your absolutely perfect zone with some thoughtful analysis of each environment.