Premed Revolution

Advice for Future Medical Students and Future Doctors

The Pancake Theory

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014

The Pancake Theory

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Audio Transcript

In medical school, I ate nearly 6850 pancakes, and you will too. I’m Ben Frederick from PremedRevolution.com and today we’re gonna talk about The Pancake Theory.

It’s something I’ll refer to often and I think it’s an accurate and understandable way of explaining the difficulty of staying on task in medical school.

Why pancakes you say? Well, unless you’re crazy, pancakes are something that just about everyone enjoys. After taking this cover picture, I ate pancakes for a week! There’s no photoshopping there. Everything is real, including the syrup.

Personally, I’m more of a waffle house waffle kind of a guy, but “Waffle House Waffle Theory” doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way way as Pancake Theory..

So pancakes will do.

You may be wondering what this has to do with medical school. Well you’ll have to read the blog post to find out.

And for because I like to try to make you take action on every blog post, tweet pictures of yourself eating pancakes to @premedrev #pancaketheory and I’ll retweet the best ones!

Understanding the Pancake Theory

The Pancake Theory is something I will refer to often. I think it’s an accurate and understandable way of explaining the difficulty of staying on task in medical school. It goes a little something like this.

All you have to do to be successful in medical school is eat five pancakes a day. You could eat them for breakfast. You could eat them for dinner. Heck, you could eat them as a midnight snack! As long as you consume five pancakes a day, you will pass all your classes with flying colors and become an amazing physician.

“This is great!” You’ll say. “I can eat five pancakes a day, no problem.” Afterall, you came to medical school because you love pancakes. You love the recipes. You love the taste. You love the way syrup spills over the top of a delicious short stack that’s hot off the stove.

As long as you consume five pancakes a day, you will pass all your classes with flying colors and become an amazing physician.

Week 1: Enjoyment

The first week goes by and you are doing great. You’ve been eating your pancakes for breakfast because it’s a great way to start the day and you feel so productive. “I can’t believe people think medical school is so hard.” You think to yourself.

Week 2: Rationalization

The second week of medical school arrives more quickly than you thought. You’ve eaten 35 pancakes, five each day, before the clock hit noon. “I can handle this…” You think to yourself.  So you start eating your pancakes for dinner. That way you get to do whatever you want in the morning, and you still eat your five pancakes a day. Maybe you can even catch up on your tv shows before your pancake. You’ve been working so hard. You deserve a little rest and relaxation.

Week 3: Procrastination

By the third week of medical school, eating your pancakes is starting to seem like a chore. That once deliciously golden brown breakfast cakes now stares back at you mockingly. “I’m a little tired of pancakes.” You’ll rationalize, “It’s only Monday. I’ll skip my pancakes today and eat ten pancakes tomorrow. How hard could it be?”

Week 4: Regret

Week 4 roles around and the pancakes have started to pile up. You skipped 2 days last week because you “just didn’t feel like pancakes.” Now it’s Monday and you have to eat 15 pancakes just to catch up. But last week’s pancakes are already starting to get stale. You’re going to need a lot of extras syrup to get those down.

The Pancake… Is Your Study Habit.

Much like Captain Hammer in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog,” I am speaking in metaphors. In case some of you are still having trouble with the concept, the pancake… is your study habit.

In college it works pretty well to study via cramming. You can party all month and then eat a giant stack of pancakes a few days before your exam and do pretty well. The second you start medical school, that all changes. The first step in avoiding the pitfalls found in The Pancake Theory is to be aware that it can happen to you.

The First Two Months of Medical School Were My Hardest.

Anatomy was my first class in med school and it was a doozey. It’s long been known as one of the hardest classes in the first two years at SLU. You learn the entire human body, top to bottom, in 2 months. I had 4 textbooks and a 3-inch thick syllabus, all of which I read cover to cover. There were 2-3 hours of daily lecture and a daily assignment in the cadaver lab. The volume of information to learn was exhausting a the level of detail was insane.

During these first two months, I learned that the studying required in medical school will be more intense than anything that I did in undergrad. If you fall even a little bit behind, it can blow up in your face. That’s why I started forming my study habits by using The Pancake Theory.

A Short Film Documenting The Pancake Theory in Medical School

It’s important to be consistent with your study habits. It will keep you out of trouble and make your life in medical school SOOOO much less stressful. Cramming for an anatomy exam is not fun, and I want to help you avoid that.

The Pancake Theory is Not Just for Medical School.

The Pancake Theory can be applied to almost anything that requires a lot of time and effort to achieve. A direct comparison can be made to studying in college. You may be ale to get away with 3 day cram sessions, but that can all be avoided by paying attention to the pancake theory. If you can start studying for your classes on a consistent basis (five pancakes a day) during undergrad, the transition to medical school will not be a big change. And you will be better for it.

The applications don’t stop there. Medical school applicants are expected to have hours of volunteer expereince, medical exposure, and even research involvement. If you try to cram these things into the last couple months of college, it’s going to be a problem. Not only will it be difficult for you to find time in your schedule, but it may be difficult for you to even find opportunities to volunteer, shadow, and certainly to get involved in research.

Furthermore, which do you think looks better? Consistent action in volunteering and medical experience accross your four years of college, or having it all crammed in the last 3 months before you submit your application?

My Final Thoughts on Pancakes.

As you go about building your application and taking classes in undergrad, be mindful of The Pancake Theory. It an be easy to let yourself fall behind. Just remember, an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but five pancakes a day MAKES you a doctor… HOORAY!

Share your dedication to pancakes with your friends and family to help inspire them to start taking consistent daily action on the things that are important in their lives.

Send me pictures of you living The Pancake Theory! @premedrev

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