Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Learning Paediatric Medicine


Q. Can you tell us a bit about who you are, and what you do?
My name is Gilkrist, and I’m a Malaysian living abroad- currently based in Sydney. My job revolves around my aspirations to bring change to the lives of people, particularly little people- I play and look after children, particularly the ones who are less fortunate and not at their 100%. Medical missions are my passion, and I have been involved in several local and international missions. I’m currently training in the field of paediatrics at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Q. We discovered your fantastic website, dedicated to Paediatric mind maps… how did you first come across mind mapping?
I started mind mapping in 2002, and it was really out of desperation to pass my exams that I came about it. Arts and crafts were my kind of thing; I used to draw diagrams, colour and paint, making colourful notes and scrap booking as an excuse to “procrastinate” and avoid studying the boring textbooks.
It was in 2002 that I pursued a degree in medicine in Australia. It was a whole new experience for me. Unlike the education system in Malaysia, I wasn’t being spoon-fed anymore. There were no longer any summaries provided by the lecturers, and there were just too much reading to do. I literally failed my first ever exam in medical school, and it was this incident that lead me to look around and research studying methods, and that led me to mind mapping. It immediately got my full attention, mainly because they were colourful pictures that were able to give me a summary at a glance- the first time the quote “a picture paints a thousand words” became relevant to me.

Q. When and why did you start mind mapping the paediatric subjects?
Over the years, I have come to reaffirm my interest in paediatrics. I took up a Diploma in Child Health in 2012, to build my foundation in paediatrics. I was fortunate to get a full time job in paediatrics in 2013, and became convinced that this paediatrics is my calling. Now I am on my quest to prepare for the professional exams in 2015.

Q. Why do you think mind mapping subjects is beneficial?

  • Saves a lot of time in the long run. Revision have become easier and more fun
  • It gives me a good overall picture of a subject, in a page
  • I can link the maps together, and finally it all makes sense
  • I have a mental picture of a subject with me, and it requires less effort to remember things. Recalling facts are easier because of triggers (important words or pictures) on the maps
  • No more boring lists
  • I become more organised.
  • People start waking up during presentations because its vibrant and unusual. Speeches tend to be more clear, and flow more smoothly.
  • Works well with brain storming, and prevents me from going off topic.

Q. What motivated you to create your own website for sharing these mind maps? 
There are 3 main reasons for this
a.     I realised that I have accumulated too many visual diaries where I usually store my mind maps. These books take up a lot of physical space (most are A3 size), and the older ones were starting to fade away. It was then I decided to take things a step forward- to go digital.  The option of having information online gave me more flexibility in accessing my own notes anytime, and to share links with my fellow colleagues.
b.     As I was looking for study resources in preparation for my exams, I noticed that there are not many mind maps relating to paediatrics. In fact, there were none that suited my purpose. The ones available did not provide me much information of what I needed to know. So the only way was to do it myself. I’d like to think that this is first site that features mind maps on a very specific subject, and that keeps me motivated.
c.     I am a firm believer of sharing my knowledge and resources so that others may learn as well. There is personal satisfaction that comes from that.

Q. Do you have any tips for anyone about to start studying a complex topic like Paediatrics, or someone who is just getting started with mind maps?

Have a go. Take the first step. Make it a habit. Its time worth investing in.

The moment you decide to map a topic, you have to commit to finish it. Many of my friends have commented that mind mapping takes too much time, but I believe it is because it is not something that they are used to do. Try experimenting and comparing the time taken to read, make notes, and revise using the conventional list method vs mind mapping. Take note of the fun factor, concentration levels, and energy taken to accomplish a task using both methods. Hopefully that will be enough to convince you.

Take it a step further, prepare your presentations and speeches using a mind map. I had a major boost factor on my first attempt, and my efforts were recognised. Now I use what I call the transparent mind map in my everyday life. It works for me because of a fixed template that I use all the time. Its basically a mind map without the branches

There are no rules to mind mapping, so do it the way that works for you. Its really a good way of getting the creative side of you going.

Thanks to Gilkrist for sharing this fantastic story with us! You can view his great website here, or see a selection of his mind maps on Biggerplate here: Biggerplate.com/gilkrist
Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter or leave a comment below!