Rish Academy

How to Study Surgery?

What is Surgery?

Surgery is the branch of medical practice that treats injuries, diseases, and deformities by the physical removal, repair, or readjustment of organs and tissues, often involving cutting into the body.

Surgery is a subject that you must understand and practice the subject and not memorize by heart,  like memorizing drug names. So to learn surgery, you should make sure that you know Surgical Anatomy, and Pathology, because they are connected to each other.

However, I would say that surgery is also one of the most important subjects you should study if you’re a student in medicine, nursing or any health-related course dealing with human lives. Because you should understand why a patient is presenting with certain clinical signs and symptoms. Then only you’ll be able to identify the Surgical Emergencies and you can act quickly to save the patient or organ.

How to study Surgery?

Surgery is one of the difficult subjects, yet interesting subject in medical school. Your knowledge in Surgery will help you throughout your carrier, also one day it will be lifesaving.

We’ve explained all of the most effective methods to study Surgery to cut your study time in half and retain more to score highest marks in your exams and perform well in your clinical rotations.


1) Create a suitable environment to study

Creating a good learning environment allows you to maximize your learning efficiency. Combination of effective time management, good reading and note taking skills, Illustration skills, creating effective test taking strategies and your hard work will give you a productive outcome. Identify all of your environmental distractions that interfere with your concentration. STARVE YOUR DISTRACTIONS, FEED YOUR FOCUS! That’s the key to success.

2) Know your Anatomy & Pathology

Remember! Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology are not just for exams, they are for life. You don’t have to be a genius in Anatomy and Pathology, but you should know the basics to understand the clinical presentations in surgical diseases and what happens inside the body in certain surgical cases. So if you’re going to study the Surgical conditions of the Gastrointestinal System in the coming week, just go through your basic anatomical structure of the Gastrointestinal System, surrounding structures, their blood supply, and pathophysiological process in surgical conditions. So, when you go to a surgical lecture and your professor is talking about Acute Pancreatitis, you will clearly understand how the Inflammation of the pancreas causes pancreatitis and how you can diagnose it clinically. 

3) Know teaching style of your professor!

Every professor is different in their teaching style. Some may give you study notes prior to lectures, so you can have a basic idea before you go to the lecture. Some professors require students to learn by themselves using textbooks and through research. If you have such professors, you can ask your seniors to see how they studied the subject. 

Some professors give you homework and assignments based on the theories that are mainly assessed in the exams. So you should focus more on such topics and related questions.

Sample of Pathophysiology Made Easy Flashcards eBook

4) Collect resources to study

There are actually a lot of resources available to you to make your studying endeavors easier. You should use all of the resources and a combination of learning techniques to maximize your studying effectiveness and reinforce the concepts in Surgery. You can take advantage of your textbooks, class handouts, reading materials, lab material your professor provides, and also there are many Online Study Resources & Notes that are accessible to students.

  • Textbooks: Always use standard textbooks for your studies. They provide you the highly reliable resources. Because you can clarify your doubts or read up on a chapter you’re not familiar with.
  • Reading materials: You should always study your reading materials and notes provided by your university. Because they will provide notes from chapters focusing on what you must know for your exams.
  • Google: Google is always our best friend to search on any topic. You can search mnemonics, diagrams, and word associations to make your learning easy. But always make sure that you refer to trusted sources. Because not everything you find on google is 100% true. I always use and recommend websites like Medscape, PubMed, and MayoClinic for high-quality and reliable articles.
  • YouTube: There are many YouTubers who make our learning easy. Many complex topics in Surgery are explained in an easy way on YouTube. This is especially helpful for students who are visual or aural learners. Later you can use youtube videos to see how to perform surgeries on live patients. 

You can get access to our Surgery Study Resources Library to get access to more than 130+  presentations and all other medical resources that will be helpful for your entire career. 


Some slides from the presentations from our Medical Resources Library

5) Don’t memorize the facts, UNDERSTAND IT! 

You can’t memorize the facts without understanding it. You can put all the important points in a flowchart and you can make study sheet for each disease. If you try to memorize the facts, you’ll forget them very easily. So you have to understand the pathophysiological process and clinical presentations that happens in a disease. 

6) Take Notes

You don’t remember everything you hear, but when you write down notes, it will help you retain more information. Sometimes you even don’t understand everything your professor teaches in class. But when you get back to your home, you’ll understand it more clearly when you revise the notes you’ve taken. These notes will be so helpful in understanding the theories in books and the reading materials given by your institute. 

Also, these notes are the secret behind scoring high marks in your exams. You can focus more on these notes before your exams and they will be useful to answer your MCQs from theories that are not covered in your reading materials. 

Professors may also tell you about memorizing techniques they have used, so when you write them down it will be more useful for you to revise the subject. Surgery is a difficult, yet interesting subject. But taking good notes on your own will help you perform well in exams and in your clinical practice too. 

7) Prepare Good Flashcards

Surgery is one of the largest and most important subjects in medical, dental, and nursing courses. You can make different flashcards in the form of questions and answers or diseases and Surgery etc. Flashcards made in the form of questions and answers will help you before the exams. 

Make flashcards from chapters that are more important and topics that you tend to forget more easily. So it will make the revision much easier than going through the textbooks again and again.

Also, flashcards have a visual impact on your brain that will help you retain more information. Small theories like “Complications of Cholecystitis” or “Pathophysiology of Acute Pancreatitis” can be very good flashcards for your last-minute preparations. To support your theory, if you draw diagrams and illustrations, those images will retain in your brain for years. 

During my studies, I used to make beautiful flashcards that explains the Pathophysiology and clinical presentation of each disease. I’ve made it a high-quality PDF eBook, so you can download online and print it yourself. 

Click the button below to download Pathophysiology Made Easy eBook. This eBook has 12 chapters and 234 pages.


Sample of Pathophysiology Made Easy Flashcards eBook

8) Prepare Study Sheets

Making up study sheets for each exam can be very useful like flashcards. Using other resources like lecture notes, textbooks, and flashcards, you can make a note on one page that should cover every important point of that chapter. So it will help you revise the note in a short time before the exams. 

For example, if you’re making a study sheet on Perianal Lumps, you can add more sub-sections like Perianal Abscess, Perianal Hematoma, Haemorrhoids, etc and you can add the clinical features and treatment on one page. So you can compare and understand the diseases more quickly.

9) Create Mnemonics

For me, mnemonics have played a great role in my medical career and great memory aids. In Surgery, you have to remember diseases that are very similar, so using mnemonics will help them remember separately. There are so many mnemonics available if you search on google about the topic you’re working on. Using Mnemonics will help you remember numerous facts in a short period and you can use this simple technique for any subject in medicine from Anatomy to Surgery.

You can create your own mnemonics and write them down, so they’ll help you learn the particular chapter faster and easier. During my medical school period, I used a lot of mnemonics. You can download them as a single eBook. 

Click the button below to download Rish Academy’s Medical Mnemonics eBook. The book has 12 chapters and 97 Pages. 

10) Use word association to remember facts

When you study Surgery, you will come across many unique and difficult words that may be hard to remember them. Word associations will help you a lot in that process.

For instance, you can connect the words Thrombus and Embolus as,

  • Thrombus is Tight – Thrombus is fixed at a place.
  • Embolus Escapes – Embolus dislodge and travel to a distance place.

I absolutely love these easy methods like mnemonics and word associations to study any subject. My friends always make fun of me for creating interesting mnemonics to remember hard topics, especially in pharmacology. But we never forgot them even after the exams. They’re long-lasting methods to remember any chapter. 

11) Learn what type of learner you are 

Figure out what learning style suits you well. This is not only for Surgery but also for any subject in medical or nursing schools. Do Mnemonics, Flashcards work for you? Are you a verbal learner? Most students are a combination of learning styles, so you have to figure out your suitable learning style to be more effective. Then maximize your study efforts in your own way to score high. If rewriting notes don’t work then don’t use them. If flashcards help you remember, then do that!

12) Record the Lectures

I recommend this for every lecture, so you can listen to something you may have missed during the lecture. So if you’re allowed to record the lecture, you can try this method.  Recording your lectures will help you revise them again. You can listen to them in your free time to boost your knowledge. This will definitely help in the process of memorizing the important theories, discussed in the lectures.

But do not focus too much on recording and listening to it again. Listen to the lecture and try to make a note during the lecture itself. Because if you try to make a note after coming home, you’re spending your time twice. Because time management is very important in medical school. 

13) Study actively

Studying Surgery is not just like reading a storybook. Active study techniques are very important, especially when it comes to learning about surgical conditions that happen inside our bodies.

It takes so much of your time when you study a complicated subject like Surgery. So you have to listen to your professor lecturing and use reading materials, books, flowcharts, short notes, etc.

14) Work in groups

You don’t always understand the facts at the very first time, especially in complex subjects like Surgery. So for some students working in groups can be of benefit. Sometimes having your friends give you explanations for complex surgical conditions or quiz you or discuss past papers can help you retain more and more. At the same time, having a group of friends for studies will keep you motivated to study. Peer teaching has been found in studies to be very effective in helping retain more material. 

15) Repetition

The more you learn, you’re more likely to forget many complex mechanisms. So what you should need to keep everything that you’ve learned on your mind is to repeat what you’ve learned again and again. You can revise your notes daily, weekly, or monthly, but repetition is essential to sharpen your knowledge. 

16) Quiz yourself

Test your knowledge again and again. You can make your own questions with your friends and quiz each other or use past papers or model papers provided by your institute or teachers. This is a must-do activity if you want to score high marks because you exactly know what you’re supposed to study. 

17) Review your mistakes

Truth is when you do self-review and when you make a mistake, if you correct it with your reference materials then you’re very unlikely to forget it. So always pay extra attention to what you got wrong.

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