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Lecture hall at 8:30 a.m.

The idea of attending lectures is becoming more and more of a thing of yesteryear with the advent of technology. Medical faculty often marvel at how rarely one takes notes by hand anymore or how textbooks are now often electronic. On any given lecture day, anywhere from 10 to 30 students are sitting in the lecture hall at 8:30 a.m. (generally less on snowy days or right before long holiday weekends like Labor Day).

UMMS affords students flexibility in deciding how they like to learn lecture material whether in class or online. All class lectures are recorded and are posted only minutes after the lecture, making it easy to watch lecture content from the comfort of one’s home, library, coffee shop, or even bed! Students even have access to prior year’s lectures, making it possible to watch all the lectures before the first day of school (for all the over-achievers out there). I will point out though that on several days of the week, we also have interactive group sessions usually in the afternoons that require attendance and are not recorded (doctoring, paths of excellence, patient presentations, small group discussions, initial clinical experiences).

While certain portions of the curriculum are mandatory attendance, lecture attendance is usually optional. As someone who both streams and attends lecture, there is something to be said for going to class. Here are a few things I like about it:

  • You get to see people in your class – with most of the classes being optional in the M2 year and with more individual standardized patient experiences for doctoring rather than whole group discussions, it is possible to be a complete hermit and go weeks without seeing classmates.
  • You are forced to watch and hear things at a normal speed – I have a tendency when streaming to want to watch videos at 1.4 or 2x faster only later realizing that I didn’t catch what was being said at all. For example, just last week we learned about PAH (pulmonary arterial hypertension) and PH (pulmonary hypertension), which sound surprisingly alike especially when watching at a faster speed. However, in class, I can just turn around and ask, “What did he just say?”
  • You get to laugh at the professor’s humorous remarks along with your class-going friends. Sequences later, you’ll reminisce and say “remember that time professor X said ...” These often just don’t translate as well when listening – especially when watching the video at 2x speeds. Some of my favorite recent comments by professors in class,
    • On lecturing: “More glad than usual to be here [lecturing]. I’ve bored myself to death over the last 24 hrs playing Angry Birds and watching South Park episodes after episodes after episodes”
    • On streamers: I’ve been talking this whole time to you on the recording. Now I learn that you are watching this like Sunday morning after the football game… So I’m going to stop speaking to you like you’re presently listening.”
    • On lecturing for the second hour in a row: “I’m tired of listening to myself so I’m going to get the enthusiasm up here. I’m going to be James Earl Jones, I’m going to be Jim Harbaugh…and we’re going to talk about … lungs.
  • You automatically block off time on your schedule for lectures. With there being so many events and cool things to do in medical school, it is often easy to delay watching lectures and become wrapped up with things like research, shadowing, or extracurricular and with quiz-free weekends, it becomes all the more important to keep up with the material. Going to lecture helps me from getting behind on content.

Nonetheless, I appreciate the flexibility of streaming too. On any given week, I will go to class half the time and stream the other half. Sometimes I even pick and choose which lectures I want to go to. I can’t seem to quite make up my mind on which I like more so, in the meantime, I will just enjoy the freedom of being able to choose!

Joy, a native Ann Arborite, is a third-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. In her spare time, she enjoys working on quality improvement issues in cardiac surgery, playing violin & piano, and hanging out with friends.