10,000 Hours to Greatness

“Do not be wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3: 7-8

They say it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to master anything.  That’s about 417 days, assuming one practices 24/7.  Assuming not, then it’s about 2 years worth of practicing diligently.

Maybe that’s why medical school is divided into two parts that are 2 years each.

1st two years: Basic Sciences.  2nd two years: Clinical rotations.

So far, I’ve completed the gruesome first two years, and I’m sure that I’ve logged in at least 10,000 hours of poring over books, notes, PowerPoint’s, wiki, pubmed, etc.

My $300 office chair was completely peeled at the arms and seat by the time basic sciences were over.

I went through at least 3 or 4 sets of pens, mechanical pencils and highlighters.

I replaced the light bulb on my desk lamp twice.

I went through two laptops and filled up two mega-external hard drives and a few flash drives to boot.

Sleeping an average of 4-5 hours was par for the course, and therefore I couldn’t live without my “Clear Eyes.”

My body was so used to facing anxiety every 3 weeks for block exams that the constant pounding of my heart and my sweaty palms has grown to become soothing…a part of me, so to speak.

The separation between my family and friends became more than geographical and my lack of a social life was palpable.

And holidays? A moot point.

In short, welcome to medical school.

And yet, although I’ll never want to go through this again…I served my time, quite literally…I definitely know that every second was worth it, because now, after 10,000 hours, I’ve become an expert…at STUDYING!!

Last month, I briefly mentioned in anecdote about witnessing colleagues, and even some friends being dismissed from the medical program because of one failure too many.  The reason is never simple, and it varies as widely as the type of students that get dismissed.  It has NOTHING to do with intelligence or aptitude.  Medical school is not for the geniuses of the world.  It’s for the tenacious souls of the world.

And yet, some very tenacious souls get dismissed anyway.

One thread I find that links it all is their study habits.  Not the amount of hours they spend studying, but the quality of studying that is done in each hour.  And hence, that is where I focused my advice giving when my friends came to me for help.

This month’s post isn’t about listing the best ways to study.  Not only is that information readily available on the web to tailor the type of learner you are, but more so, it is a de facto trial-and-error…for EACH class.

Rather, I would like to encourage you to ask God to reveal to you that most efficient way TO study.  It makes the difference between landing on that moon, star, or somebody’s roof.  It makes the difference between retention for the exam or retention for your future patients. It matters!

If you’re going to be logging in thousands and thousands of hours doing anything, don’t you want to be sure you’re doing it as efficiently as possible?

It is a gruesome process and can be very frustrating, and you may get burned-out every couple months or so.  However, your discipline will pay off… for STEP 1 and more importantly, for the wards.  And even more importantly still, for God’s glory.

Hyacinth Norris commented on my last post and said these words which I whole heartily agree with: “By merely passing, to whom are you giving glory?”

Good luck on your journey to GREATNESS.

~~If you have trouble coming up with a good study plan for school, send me a message and I’ll be glad to help.~~


6 Responses to 10,000 Hours to Greatness

  1. HealthOU says:

    Great post Tacha,

    The need for EFFECTIVE study tactics is such an important part of succeeding in medical school I also have seen a fair share of classmates who have been dismissed, not because they didn’t have the smarts to make it, but because they simply missed one question too many. Its just that easy. Getting into medical school is a challenge, but succeeding and staying in is a journey in itself.

    Nicole H.

  2. HealthOU says:

    You are so right. One question too many is very scary, and are the types of stories that freaked me out at first. However, like you said, it’s a journey worth fighting for. Professional school is worlds away from college and requires alot more discipline and sacrifice. But one thing I want to admonish is that there is no ONLY way to do it. That is the reason I didn’t list hard study tips, because it may not work for all. In fact, tis another mistake i witness…colleagues focused on doing what others are, even though it’s not working for them. I’ve seen ALL kinds of interesting study habits, mine’s included, and some work and some don’t. The traditional route has never worked for me, and yet I find myself flabbergasted at the very unorthodox methods that work for some of my classmates.
    To each his own…

  3. Jennifer Jean-Pierre says:

    Hey, this blog is very interesting. Im studying for the mcat as well and its been very crazy, However i feel like im getting closer to God as i study for this Mcat. I do need to ask him to show me the right way to study, but so far, things have been going okay, things could be better though. Any suggestion?

    • HealthOU says:


      Keep at it. Like Tacha mentioned in her blog, its not an easy road. It takes lots of dedication and LOTS OF ACTUAL HOURS. Just like with everything else in this life, god has the answers and He will show you how to learn and retain and do well. there are sooooo many different options for how to study and retain. One key thing though is repetition, frequent reviewing and associating new information with something you’ve already learned. Hang in ther, do your part an success will be yours in Jesus name! We are prepping a post on study tips soon, but like TAcha said, its so indvidual and what works for one won’t work for everyone.

  4. Natacha P. says:

    Thanks for the reply Nicole. I concur!

    Jennifer, one thing I can definitely advise that is a staple for ANY exam, that I probably should have posted, is to drown yourself in practice questions!!!
    Study styles vary based on how you acquire information.
    But alas, the only way for one to know whether you’ve truly learned is to regurgitate the information.

    When you get to med school, each prof will have a different style of exams. The only way to beast the class is to learn and practice in the style of your prof.
    For national exams, practice questions are also key. It helps defunk the mystery of the exam, b/c there really is only so many ways one can ask a concept.

    You may think you understand the concept, until it is asked, and you realize that you totally missed the important points while studying.
    Also, practice questions help you with your pacing(timing) and for anxiety of the unknown.

    So, my BEST advice for you is to subscribe to an online question bank (Kaplan, etc), and do NO LESS than 2 -3,000 practice questions! Focus on your weak points and redo the questions you got wrong.

    • HealthOU says:

      Yes….QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS!!! Thats the only way to know if you have the information down for sure. I concur with 2 – 3000 and redoing the ones you get wrong. For standardized tests frequent practice is KEY. You’ll be so familar with the test from doing so many questions that you’ll sale through the exam, and it will build your test taking stamina.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: