Success Types for Medical Students: A Program for Improving Academic Performance

John W. Pelley, PhD. With Bernell Dalley, PhD.

First Edition 1997, Texas Tech University Division of Extended Learning, Lubbock: 243 pages ISBN: 0-9665049-0-9

Reviewed By Guy M. Nehrenz, Ed.D., RRT.

     Medical students are constantly searching for ways to put information into a form that is both efficient and helpful in studying for in-class exams and boards. A few attempts have been made to write self-help books to assist students in better study methods. Success Types for Medical Students is a book that may have touched on an excellent method of developing study tools to help medical students and other health sciences practitioners during school and beyond

     What is refreshing about this text, is that the author is working from experience in the classroom. This is not a manuscript of regurgitated facts and figures that have been put together in an attempt to create a book. Though Myers - Briggs is the main thrust of much of the book, the "bubble diagrams" are the area I felt would be truly helpful to students.

     In my experience, most medical students are somewhat interested in their learning type, but probably won't "waste" the time to take the Myers-Briggs, let alone seek out a psychologist or educator to help them interpret the results. I feel it is more important for the professor to know the learning styles of their students and to gear their lectures to meet these needs. To this end, I feel that this book is good for both the student and professor.

Discussion points of the book:

  1. The bubble diagram work is novel. Very similar to flow charting, but it takes this practice to the next level. I can see a true advantage of visually studying the information in this format. Most of the learning and memorization will come to the student during construction of the bubble diagram (if they themselves conceive and build the diagram.) If the professor builds the diagram, the student will benefit from the visual stimulation during study. The diagram method takes the concepts of the written text and puts them into a format that makes sense.

  2. I believe that the author did the student a service by including examples of different subjects in the bubble diagrams. This allows the student to understand their usefulness in more than one subject. I would like to see is this method used to discuss clinical problems, such as differential diagnosis and lab studies. I believe in the next edition, the author would further assist students by discussing the clinical application of this method, especially in light of board's part 2.

  3. The learning types discussed are helpful, but it would be a good move to include a Meyers-Briggs with the book. This way the student could immediately determine how they approach learning by reading the excellent discussion included in this book. Perhaps include a short method of interpreting the Myers-Briggs.

Overall, the quality of the book is excellent. The format and print are appropriate and the diagrams are well thought out. This is a book for students and professors alike. I believe counselors would find this book beneficial as well.

Note: More information on the strategies proposed in this book can be found in the SuccessTypes Medical Education Page

Medical Education Online