Today on the blog I’m going to share with you my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE study tool in medical school. Seriously, this was the best study tool ever, and I rarely missed pharm or micro questions because of it. You may have heard of Sketchy Medical from your med school friends. Or if you are active in the online med IG community, you probably saw a few med students screenshotting their Sketchy scenes in one of their #studyspo pictures. These videos saved my life in medical school so today I’m sharing my Sketchy Medical review PLUS tips on how to use it to maximize your learning experience.
So when I first heard of Sketchy, it was called Sketchy Micro because at the time they only had videos related to microbiology. Now Sketchy has rebranded into Sketchy Medical, which includes Sketchy Micro (all the micro videos) plus the new Sketchy Pharm (all of the pharmacology videos).
I first got introduced to Sketchy Medical when I was in Haiti during the summer before my second year. I met medical students from other schools and one of them told me about Sketchy Medical and Picmonic. Picmonic is another video tool that uses images to put things into memory. My friend played the Picmonic E. coli video for me and then she played the Sketchy Micro E. coli video and truthfully, only the Sketchy one stuck. I’m not trying to bash Picmonic in anyway, but the sketches were random, the plot lines made no sense, and it just seemed all over the place.
But for whatever reason the Sketchy video made sense, the story line drew my attention, and even though I never took micro before (my school does micro during second year), I could literally tell you all the high yield facts about E. coli off the top of my head. When I got back to the states, I told my classmate about Sketchy and she said some of the older students at our school recommended it. I was impressed to find that even though several weeks have passed (and I still didn’t start micro yet), I STILL remembered the Sketchy E. coli video and from that point on I was hooked.
5/5/17 Update: Sketchy Medical Recently released Sketchy Path… Unfortunately this isn’t useful for me now. If you’d like I can watch a few and maybe post a brief review. But for now this review is solely for Sketchy Pharm and Sketchy Micro components of Sketchy Medical.
SKETCHY MEDICAL REVIEW: MY OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
- Easy to use
- Memorable videos
- There’s a review option that you can use to quiz yourself on the facts of a video before moving on to the next one
- The Sketchy Micro videos are relatively short
- Aligns with First Aid including those minor details you may have missed when reading
- The memory hooks are constant throughout the entire Sketchy Micro & Sketchy Pharm (for instance, red stools are always representative of bloody diarrhea) which helps with memory retention
- Sketchy Pharm Videos are much longer than Sketchy Micro videos. They are still just as useful, but I had to dedicate more time to watching them
CHANGES I’D LIKE TO SEE:
A bunch of people like to print their Sketchy scenes and take notes directly on the picture. I wish Sketchy would offer PDF images of each scene for those who want to take notes on their iPad or an optional spiral bound notebook with those color images for people who want to take notes by hand. However I guess this is really not that big of a deal though since you could technically screenshot or print the images yourself.
- UPDATE 5/5/17: Well looks like my Sketchy friends took up this idea… It’s been out for a while but I haven’t found time to update this post. If you haven’t heard, Sketchy released a workbook for their pharm videos… This book is about $35 and can be found on their site. I haven’t seen the book in person but it appears to be paper and spiral bound… Please know you’re paying for convenience. If you’re on a budget but have a printer and some ink go ahead and plan a day printing your sketches and get them spiral bound for $6 at your nearest FedEx/ Kinkos store. Personally I think that after paying $100+ for a course, a workbook should be free (especially because I know it is not costing them anywhere near $35 to print each book). Pathoma (another study resource) is around a similar prince point for equally amazing content AND the book is included. Anyways, if you want convenience and want to support Sketchy then by all means get the workbook. I’m sure they’ll eventually release a Micro version but I can’t imagine paying $50-$70 (what I’m assuming the cost will be for both books) IN ADDITION to the cost of the course. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve only seen positive reviews on the Pharm book, however, for some people Sketchy alone is breaking the bank so I want my budgeting students to know that there’s options and that even without the workbook, Sketchy Medical is still an amazing resource!
- If they could tell you what pages all the information was found in First Aid then that would be AMAZING! First Aid is organized kind of weird in my opinion. For instance on one page you’ll have XYZ bacteria but then a few pages layers the same bacteria is repeated in a table with new information. If Sketchy could consolidate this for each video and say for example the Strep Pyogenes Video (aka Pie Genies’ Bakery for you Sketchy Masters out there) could be listed as “Strep Pyogenes: Pie Genies’ Bakery (FA 2017: pgs 122-123, 147). This way if you wanted to take notes or follow along in First Aid (which I did sometimes), you knew exactly where to go.
- I would like to see an updated review method. The way the review works is that there’s a picture of the final sketchy scene and a red dot over the images that have a fact associated with them. If you hover over the dot it reveals the vital fact associated with that part of the scene. It works well on my laptop, but sometimes I can’t see the red dot if it blends into the scene. I’d also like to have improved review on mobile devices since this feature didn’t work well on my iPhone.
EXAMPLE OF SKETCHY MICRO
Here you can find a short playlist of some Sketchy Micro Videos (note: this isn’t my playlist… I just found this with a quick google search). I’m sharing this so it will give you an example of the videos and you can make an informed choice if it’s for you or not.
SKETCHY vs. COMPETITORS
Okay so Sketchy isn’t the only visual learning aid available. I mentioned it earlier how I watched comparable Picmonic videos. Some people like Picmonic because it covers ALL of first aid (I think Sketchy is working on doing this and if not they should… SKETCHY ARE YOU READING THIS? IF SO YOU REALLY SHOULD CREATE A STEP 1 COURSE, K THANKS! – SINCERELY, ALL MED STUDENTS WHO WANT TO ACE THE USMLE STEP 1).
My issue with Picmonic was that it was all over the place for me. I tried using it during second year to learn the blood flow of the brain stem but the images and story lines didn’t make sense. It was just too much visual stimulation. Personally, the organization of sketchy works best for me. I have friends who swear by Picmonic but I personally don’t recommend them.
To make the best choice for you, try watching sample videos of each and see what you like more. I have friends who use both (Sketchy for micro and pharm and Picmonic for everything else). It’s really up to you and at the end of the day, you should pick what’s best for you and your grades.
TIPS FOR STUDYING WITH SKETCHY MEDICAL
Okay so you’re either 1 of 2 students reading this right now. Student 1: Has not taken micro or pharm (or is in the middle of it) and needs something to supplement their studying during the school year. Student 2 has finished his/ her preclinical years and is researching study resources for Step 1. Truthfully, I think Student 1 will benefit more from Sketchy Medical only because those memory hooks will be solidified over the course of the pre-clinical studies. So by the time Student 1 starts studying for Step 1, they will be REWATCHING the videos and not seeing them for the first time. Repetition is key with memorizing and memory hooks. Student 2 can definitely benefit as well, but he/ she will just have to ensure they manage their time well since there are a lot of videos. Depending on the amount of time Student 2 has for their dedicated Step study period, they may want to prioritize the videos from the topics they need help with the most and save the rest for if they have time at the end. Which student are you? Here’s what I’d suggest for each one:
- STUDENT 1: currently in his pre-clinical years
- Every med school curriculum is different. My school doesn’t have a pharm block and instead has a pharm thread throughout year 1 and year 2. We don’t even see Micro until year 2. Other schools do things differently. Either way, I’d suggest watching the relevant videos as they come up in your med school curriculum. So if your teacher mentions Strep in class then make sure you watch the strep videos. If you are learning the sympathomimetics, then watch those videos after your corresponding lectures. By the way, the videos are a REVIEW OF EVERYTHING. So depending on how your curriculum is designed, there may be things in the videos that aren’t relevant to what you’re learning in class at the current moment. It’s okay, just keep watching the videos as you learn the topics in school. Even though all the facts may not be relevant at first, they will be relevant for Step 1. You can either ignore the “non-relevant” facts for the time being and focus on what you need to know for your exam. Or, because the videos are so easy to watch and have digestible information, you can just save the “non-relevant” facts for later (this is what I did) since they will be relevant eventually. By using Sketchy with their curriculum, Student 1 will see all of the videos by the time they study for Step 1. So now, they can use their dedicated study time to simply re-watch the videos they forgot or re-watch their weaker subjects.
- STUDENT 2: currently studying for Step 1 or about to study for Step 1
- If I were in this situation, I would prioritize my weaknesses. I am good with bacteria and fungi and I’m weaker with viruses, protozoa and antibiotic drugs. As a result, I would prioritize watching the videos corresponding to my weaker subjects first. If you’re studying for Step 1, make sure to leave time for UWorld and other studying tools. You shouldn’t spend every day of your dedicated period watching Sketchy Medical for 10 hrs. Perhaps watch one or two videos as a warm up to your study day, or at the end of your day to wrap up.
How to get Sketchy Medical?
You can purchase Sketchy Micro, Sketchy Pharm, or both here. There’s also options to get group or institutional discounts. Personally I used both and recommend getting the combined plan.
Okay well that’s my Sketchy Review! Seriously, this was my ABSOLUTE favorite study material. My friend and I used project the videos to the huge flat screen TV we had in our classrooms and just watch them while we ate snacks. After we finished a set we would quiz each other on the details before moving on. I have friends who screenshotted the scenes and took notes on the pictures on their iPad. Others printed out the notes and had a “Sketchy Workbook” where they took notes on the videos. Personally, I randomly jotted down notes in First Aid but honestly, I don’t know why I did that because the info was almost always there already.
What are your favorite study resource for medical school? If you like these reviews then let me know with a comment down below! I’d be happy to review more resources and books on the blog!