Welcome to our Student Spotlight Series, where we share stories from Sketchy students just like you.
This week, meet Brent: MS2 student at Saint James School of Medicine. A lifelong learner, grandpa, and technically retired, Brent reminds us that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. He shares how his “old school” approach to using Sketchy makes learning fun and helps take the dread out of med school.
What made you start your medical journey?
Well, I'm a lifelong learner. I really enjoy it. You may be witnessing the oldest—and I'm not kidding—medical student currently attending. When I graduate, I may be Guinness book material.
I've studied a lot of anti-aging medicine throughout the years. And one of the common threads that they find to living a long life is to keep your mind active. And I thought, well, going to medical school will probably keep my mind pretty active. And it's something that will stretch me quite a bit. And I enjoy learning. I enjoy learning all about the medical aspect of it too.
How did you learn about Sketchy?
I think I'm such a unique student, you know, being an old geezer—I'm 63 years old, a grandpa and all that stuff—but I'm not that unique in asking other students what they use, what has been effective for them. And almost everybody said they use Sketchy—Sketchy Pharm, Sketchy Micro. And so it was like, I have to get that. Being old school, I bought the book in addition to the subscription. Because I like writing a lot of notes on my stuff. And so I can watch the video, I can look at my book, flip through it and kind of stimulate my brain in a lot of different ways. And it's worked wonderfully for me. I'll be taking Step 1 in a few months and Sketchy has been a great tool for me.
What has your experience been like using Sketchy?
There were several topics going into medical school that I just didn’t know about. When I hit Biochemistry, a lot of these things had not even been discovered yet back in the seventies and eighties. To have very little foundation, and have to learn all this other stuff that's new—I was terrified. So I thought, I'm gonna get myself a tutor for Biochemistry. I went through a service and the tutor was extremely knowledgeable. But his knowledge was way over my head. And it was in a format that just didn't work for me. I had already prepaid for so many sessions, and I didn't know what I was going to do.
I had already received my Sketchy books and subscribed to it because I knew I was going to be looking at that for Microbiology. And so I asked, instead of the Biochem, do you have somebody that might be able to walk me through the Sketchy program, kind of warm me up ahead of time before class. And they got me connected with this student in New York, in Buffalo, who was already finished, going into residency. She had been using Sketchy for a long time. And she was just perfect for me. I'm going to tell you straight up, she dumbed it down to my level, patted me on the head, “good boy,” and all of that good stuff. We met at least a couple of times a week before I started Micro. Step-by-step we went through Sketchy, organism by organism, and she explained if something was really high-yield, or maybe not quite as high-yield, but you need to know it. It was great. I went from knowing so little about Micro to feeling like, “Okay, I can do this,” instead of being just terrified going into it. It worked out to be enjoyable instead of just constantly being behind the curve and feeling dread. I think if you are able to do it ahead of time, there's no pressure for a test. You kind of let it flow in, seep in down deep and build on that. And it worked really well for me. Sketchy has been very, very helpful—a good friend of mine.
How would you describe Sketchy to a new student?
Well, if you would enjoy just reading the script of a YouTube video instead of actually watching it, Sketchy is probably not for you. But if you prefer watching it and having the interaction, that's what Sketchy is. It makes the information come alive and it gives you a picture. So when you're taking a test, the picture just pops up in your head. It makes it much more enjoyable. It's something that will stick with me for a lot longer than just memorizing a list of things on an index card and just throwing it off into the corner later.
What’s next for you?
I've been married for over 40 years. And so my wife is like, “Are you sure you want to be doing this? You really don't have to be doing this, you know, you're kind of retired.” It's like a daily test. And, so I suspect that I will not be pursuing an additional degree after medical school. But, you may want to come out with some sort of Sketchy version for geezers that want to study something else. It kind of goes with the whole persona of Sketchy.
Watch the full interview.