Medical students say 25-50% of the first 2 years of medical school is not relevant to being a physician.

Hi, I'm Sean, and I believe this shouldn't be the case!

That's why I'm developing innovative solutions to allow students make 100% of their time in school count towards developing their ability to practice medicine.

Good news: Medical education is refocusing its priorities.

The USMLE Step 1 Board Exam is no longer scored, which means that...

✅ Students no longer have to grind for facts that have nothing to do with good medical decision making.

✅ Students can now focus on what matters most in medicine: solving problems for patients.

Bad News: Fundamental educational issues remain...

❌Students are abandoning the lecture halls in masses.

❌ There is poor continuity in medical knowledge across the 4 years.

❌ Students and Residents feel unprepared to use medical knowledge for the real world.

A solution? A centralized database that will give flashcards to students when they are "ripe" for learning.

Introducing GrowNotes

An app that enables learners to bridge knowledge when it really counts. Here's how my app will help do that.

#1 🕑 Reusable Flashcards

Students see that active learning through Q&A flashcards is the most rewarding memorization method. However, making decks is very inefficient.

A majority of my classmates use flashcards to remember facts for their exams. But as a peer tutor and student myself, I quickly realized my classmates and I did not have enough time to create sustainable flashcards. For the human mind, the amount of preclinical material to be learned is too massive, the associations are too complex, and the learning curve to use flashcards properly is too high. And once students are in a new context like the clinic, these flashcards are disposed and are replaced with new ones anyway.


My peers and I despised how a newly created flashcard may never be used ever again because it had been siloed for a single exam. We also did not appreciate how unvetted flashcard decks get passed around the class. We felt we should get to a point where a student should not have to create a single flashcard to take advantage of active learning. But at the same, we need to be informed about what we're trying to memorize for the next exam.


The GrowNotes app allows students and educators to easily "shop" for lexically- and taxonomically-standardized flashcards to add to their spaced-repetition study schedule for a specific module exam.

#2 🤝 Collaborative Learning

Competition is only a good motivator for the short-term and often creates maladaptive behaviors. We instead ought to work together and organize existing knowledge better for each other.

I volunteer at my local community garden, where organic vegetables are grown year-round. I believe that learning with flashcards should be as easy as picking fruit off from a tree that has been grown collectively by everyone. Reviewing for the boards or the wards should be a culmination of your work for your classes throughout the semester. Boards review should not just be an additional bandaid slapped on at the last few months before the USMLE or COMLEX.


Also, with the rise of assigned self-study time and movement away from the lecture, each student needs more personalized help from educators and other students outside the lecture hall.


The GrowNotes app hosts a social forum where students and educators can easily access and engage in targeted conversations directly on each flashcard anytime, anywhere. Any new flashcard created by the community can branch out from existing cards, which can contain links to evidence from medical studies.

#3📱 Real Life Connections

Students need to make data and information technology work for them, not against them.

It always amazed me how effective a video game like Pokemon can progressively teach someone how to catch monsters with fake data while the medical education system seems to stifle student curiosity and motivation with grades. To empower our students, medical education and information technology have to go hand-in-hand, especially with the wealth of quantitative data (prevalence, sensitivity, specificity) that medicine so highly depends on. Today, data science for students is just about assigning numerical grades to students. Tomorrow, data science has to empower students to learn and love learning.


Today's high-stakes low-sample size exams give insufficient feedback on how a student should adapt their studying to their knowledge deficits. The most effective learning systems allow a rapid, precise, and consistent aid for students to resolve their confusion.


The GrowNotes app employs learning theory such as spaced-repetition and schematic-thinking where every flashcard is placed in a knowledge network, allowing students to see how medical facts are interrelated and keep track of their day-to-day progress on competencies they need to have to be successful in the clinic.

Built with

How would students access this app?

It's easy. All you need is:

☑️ Internet connection (initially for syncing, but the app can work offline)


☑️ Laptop/Desktop Computer, where the app can run directly on your Internet browser


☑️ Tablet or a Smartphone (iPhone or Android), where the app runs on AppSheet or your browser

It is a standard requirement of medical schools to have these devices.

How can I be involved in the development?

I'm actively searching for gardening partners.

Are you a student who wants to see your medical school better organize their education? Are you an educator wanting to usher-in encounter-based education? Are you a computer scientist who knows how to construct engaging apps? Are you a game designer who wants to see positive change in your medical care?

Send me an email:

And follow me on Twitter:


News Feed

Our story is featured on Google Cloud's AppSheet blog!

We're going to LA!

We're excited to give a poster presentation on a cool feature of this novel app at this conference hosted by the Keck School of Medicine!

Check out our review of popular study aids!

Click here to read about the strengths and weaknesses of some of the popular study aids in meeting your study needs throughout your time as a medical student.

Nice meeting you at TUC Research Day 2019!

Thank you for all the doctors, educators, and students who stopped by our poster to chat and took a test-drive through our revolutionary educational interface.