Why Even Gifted Medical Students Need to Take USMLE Review Seriously

Medical students who are intellectually gifted and talented often perform individual tasks at a very high level. These students display exceptional memories and learn at a rapid pace. They are knowledgeable about things which their colleagues may not have even heard of yet. But in the USMLE world, a gifted student may also exhibit extreme anxiety more than the average medical student. Here are some truths about giftedness which will further explain why no medical student should deny themselves the opportunity to participate in an adequate USMLE review:

1. Gifted students are often perfectionists and idealistic. They may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth, which sometimes leads to fear of failure and interferes with achievement.

2. Medical students who are gifted may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others resulting in guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.

3. Most of the gifted students are asynchronous. Their chronological age, social, physical, emotional and intellectual development may be at different levels.

4. Some gifted students are “mappers” or sequential learners while others are “leapers” or spatial learners. Leapers may not know how they got a right answer. Mappers may get lost in the steps leading to the right answer.

5. Gifted students may be so far ahead of their colleagues or classmates that they know more than half of the lesson before the school year begins. Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.

6. Gifted people are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, interdisciplinary problems.

7. Gifted individuals often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study and test-taking skills. In the USMLE world, they may not be able to select one answer in a multiple choice question because they see how all the answers might be correct.

8. Gifted individuals who do well in school may define success in getting an “A” and failure as any grade other than “A.” Thus, in their USMLE review sessions or a practice test any result that is not a “perfect” result and does not make them feel they are at the top of their class, may make them feel frustrated.

Thus medical students who are gifted and talented need opportunities to work hard on challenging learning tasks. Participating with fellow students in a rigorous USMLE review is an opportunity for talented student both to learn and to be understood by their colleagues. In fact the most gifted students may benefit from such reviews as much as, if not more, than the “average” or “below-average” student.