Is Doctors in Training (DIT) the Right Fit for You?

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • does-the-DIT-shoe-fit.jpgOne-size-fits-all approaches to studying for the USMLE (or any test in medical school for that matter) are tricky because everyone learns differently.

    I have seen far too many students end up with suboptimal scores as a result of following the majority and not determining what works best for them. In my opinion, it can be easy for this to be the case with Doctors in Training (DIT).

    Just to clarify, I do not think that DIT is a bad product. My wife used DIT when studying for Step 1 and as she often likes to remind me, she did do a little better than me. Having subsequently watched the videos myself, I do believe that DIT offers a very high quality review course for Step 1 and 2 CK, with material presented in a way that is definitely geared toward the USMLE. The lecturers are incredibly knowledgeable, easy to follow, and do a great job in coordinating their teaching with First Aid.

    So why all the skepticism? In my opinion, because DIT is so accessible, students forget to ask themselves if it will be a good tool for their individual USMLE needs.

    When I was in my second year of medical school, I would estimate that less than 25% of my classmates attended lectures on a regular basis. The most common reasons I heard for not attending were: “I just learn better on my own,” and, “I’m not an audio-visual learner.” However, over 50% of my classmates signed up for DIT when it came time for their USMLE studies.

    Essentially, most of my classmates forgot to ask themselves if they truly do learn better on their own or if they were audio-visual learners. And while some people did successfully use DIT to achieve solid scores, many more fell behind while using it and either abandoned it midway through their studies or were forced to take time away from other resources, like UWorld.

    From this, you might be thinking, “Why isn’t DIT a great fit for every student?” In my opinion it’s because:

    1. You cannot ask a video a question.

    Remember, DIT is a one-size-fits-all approach to preparing for the USMLE. If you don’t understand a key concept, you aren’t able to get another explanation. Instead, you’re either left to picking up additional resources or “just memorizing it.”

    2. DIT makes a busy day even busier.

    Unfortunately in most cases, DIT alone will not get you through Step 1 or Step 2 CK prep. In addition to DIT, students need to concurrently read First Aid and target a goal of completing UWorld twice. What’s more, many students will need further resource supplementation for difficult areas. If you’re already struggling to get everything done, DIT is just going to add more time to your day.

    3. Not everyone is an audio-visual learner.

    If you’re not getting a lot out of your current lectures, what makes you think you will get something out of DIT? If you’ve read our blog before, you know that we are huge proponents of UWorld, because using a Qbank is the only way to simultaneously build both your knowledge base and test taking skills. Unfortunately, unless you are indeed a strong audio-visual learner, the learning that takes place from DIT is more passive and wont lend itself to helping you actually internalize what you are learning.

    So then, who should be using this product?

    If you are an audio-visual learner and do think that a video series could benefit you, then it is worth considering. However, I would advise using DIT while still in your second year courses as opposed to waiting until your dedicated study time.

    Several students of mine have had great success utilizing DIT in conjunction with their second year courses as a way of both reviewing relevant anatomy and physiology for Step 1 without taking much focus away from their actual coursework.

    For Step 2 CK students, if you’re considering using DIT, I would actually recommend starting with OnlineMedEd first. This website has a free collection of videos geared toward each clerkship and topic on Step 2. These videos are incredibly high yield, geared toward how the material will be presented on the test, and are generally not longer than 15-20 minutes each. And if those aren’t enough, you could also check out the free YouTube series by Paul Bolin.

    In closing, if you’re taking nothing else away from this, remember to focus on studying in a way that works for you! Resourcytosis (my made-up word for using too many resources) is a very real problem and an easy way to squander your time away and lower your optimal performance.

    Instead of following the crowd, focus on using resources that are right for your own style of learning. Remember, for every audio-visual learner scoring a 250 using DIT, there is someone who would have been much better off finding a study method that played to their strengths.