Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do not pass "Go".

I realized last night that I had stopped trying to learn new things and had entered the final phase of the study cycle: damage control.

I realized this because I was looking at some drug info and noticed that lots of drugs, for example the antibiotic gentamicin, are nephrotoxic. That is, they give your kidneys a good hard pounding and that can be enough to stop your kidneys working.

This is a useful thing to know. But rather than continue on and try to learn more useful things, my reaction was to immediately pick up some past exams and try to figure out exactly how many different types of question I might be able to avoid answering simply by writing down, "gentamicin nephrotoxicity". This is damage control at its finest.

Gentamicin nephrotoxicity appeals to me for several reasons:
  1. Each word is polysyllabic and hence sounds very learned.
  2. The mechanism is either poorly understood or outrageously complex, hence I don't have to bother to try to remember anything.
  3. Lots of people take antibiotics, so it's broadly applicable.
  4. By singling out a particular drug it gives the illusion that I have carefully considered this specific scenario rather than used a blanket Get Out Of Jail Free card.
The other thing I've been doing as part of my damage control is spending lots of time praying to the Exam Gods that I get asked questions about stuff I know and understand (for example: physics, the Napoleonic wars, vintage sci-fi) rather than stuff I don't (for example: the content of lectures).

If I had spent half the time studying that I have spent worrying, I wouldn't have had to spend half the time worrying that I have.


Anonymous said...

Either you are so confident in your anatomical knowledge that you need not study for tomorrows exam or you have given up on it completely.

PTR said...

I think it's actually that I am much more worried about next week so I have kind of overlooked tomorrow...