Peer Tutor Award Winner Kollin Kahler Shares Study Tips for Medical Students
What made you interested in participating in the tutoring program here at AUC?
I’ve always loved helping, especially teaching. I come from a family of teachers and I feel like it’s in my blood.
What courses have you tutored at AUC?
Histology, Immunology, Pathology 1, Physiology 2, Medical Microbiology, Pathology 2, Histology Lab, and Anatomy Lab.
Which part of tutoring did you enjoy the most?
Bringing my passion and enthusiasm for a subject and using that to help a student reach their academic goals. If I can make the material fun and enjoyable to learn, then I think I did a good job.
What is your tutoring style and what strategies work well for you?
I come in with some high energy. I love to teach, and I think my attitude is contagious. I also like to take the material and make a story out of it. I come up with some silly mnemonics and stories, but they work, and people remember them.
In what way do you think tutoring helped you as you prepared for your USMLE Step 1 exam?
I feel that tutoring has played an integral part in my Step exam studying. As I tutor, I’m going over the information a few times and that’s essentially like studying. I’d encourage as many people as possible to tutor, even if that means a small group—it’s a great to stay up with the information.
What study strategies did you use to excel in your performance in Medical Sciences?
This varies from class to class and student to student. I feel like the secret sauce is repeated exposure (tutoring 😊) and recall. I’m comfortable with information when I can close my eyes and repeat the important information without looking. I’ve had many conversations with my wall.
Do you have any tips to offer for Shelf / Comp and Step 1 preparations?
Start annotating your study source early. I personally use First Aid and I wish I would have written out my class notes in there from the beginning. I went and had mine unbound and put into a binder so I can add sheets of paper to it. Find an external study source (B&B, Kaplan, Rx, Osmosis, etc.) and don’t be afraid to use that often to supplement. Try to go through as many NBME questions as possible for the Shelf exams.
Have you been involved in extracurricular activities while at AUC?
Yes! Orientation Advisor, Resident Advisor, Community Action Days, community projects (working with the Food Drive, Red Cross, Rotary Club, orphanage), and research with Dr. Aziz. I’ve helped with the Admissions team by speaking with future students and been part of student interest groups such as the Disaster Medicine Interest Group (DMIG) and the Emergency Medicine Student Interest Group (EMSIG).
How are your sleep habits?
I get about 6-8 hours per night. I try to sleep in without an alarm at least 1 day on the weekend. As exams get closer, I move closer to 6 hours. The first 2-3 weeks afterwards, I get about 8, then I cut down by 1 hour per night for each week closer to exams. Don’t be ashamed of naps and caffeine.
How do you focus on your wellness and self-care?
Have a solid community around you. I have my best and closest friend that I talk with every night for about 30 minutes. He encourages me and listens to my struggles. He may not understand what I’m talking about but he’s great support. My prayer life is essential for me as well. I have to repeat my life verse a lot to remind me to be anxious about nothing and pray about everything. I’ve really had to lean on Christ a lot during school. The church family on campus has been a great support as well.
Do you have any suggestions or words of advice to offer your peers here at AUC?
This journey is a marathon. Stay consistent. Find some people to run with you. Don’t forget why you’re here, we all have a story to why we wanted to be physicians so let that motivate you during those tough times.
What are some memories of AUC that you’ll always remember?
I’ll always remember the family atmosphere at AUC. The class sizes are small and that’s one of the things that originally attracted me to AUC. I feel like I can always approach the professors and administration. The entire faculty is involved in the campus body and I feel like it’s a huge family. I’ll remember the Community Action Days and exploring the island with medical students for service opportunities every semester. Mullet Bay Beach is so beautiful, and I have great memories of relaxing there with my friend after exams.
I’ll remember the staff on campus, especially in the library, that I’ve seen every day and connected with. I’ve always felt that everyone here wanted me to succeed and did whatever was necessary for me to do so. I never felt alone in my studies either. The Academic Support team have always made sure my colleagues and I had the help we needed through course and small group tutors. I’ll always remember how AUC provided me the opportunity to achieve my lifelong dream of becoming a physician.
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