Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Archive for the ‘Step 1’ Category

Forever Done with Step 1! Whooo!

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I passed! Which means that I am officially forever done with Step 1 of the USMLE exams (you can’t retake them if you pass). I didn’t do as well as I occasionally wished I would, but I scored around where I expected. I did make my minimum goal of doing better than average, so there’s something to be said for that since med students are a pretty smart bunch. I grew up with average being a bit of a dirty word, but I’m working on internalizing that being an average medical student is still pretty noteworthy.

Just two more Steps to go! Step 2 CK  & CS (Clinical Knowledge, another multiple choice exam, and Clinical Skills, a standardized patient exam) will be next year during the summer or early fall, and then the two days of Step 3 will be sometime during my first year of Residency/my Intern year, if I understand the timeline correctly.

In other news, I reached a new medical student low today. I was trying to check my back in the mirror to see if my spine is straight or not. I’ve had occasional issues with back pain since I was 9 or so that are probably just posture related, but you never know…

Written by Aba

July 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Medical School, Step 1

Not Entirely Miserable

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When I’m not stressing out and worrying that I’m going to get a score just barely above passing (you can only retake this exam if you fail, but I think I’d rather just barely pass than fail), this has actually been enjoyable in a strange way. It’s been nice realizing that these two years of lectures and exams have culminated in my being able understand and correctly answer these kinds of medical questions. I’ve learned stuff!

Our school exams are mostly one step questions. For example, you’ll get a description of someone who’s ill and have to pick the correct diagnosis. Sometimes there will be easy two step questions, where you get the symptoms and you have to pick the drug.

Some of the questions in the practice question banks (qbanks) that I’ve bought, and on the self assessments, are quite a bit more complicated. You get the disease presentation, and then you have to pick what is the correct mechanism of action of the drug that you should use to treat the disease. Or maybe pick which bacterial illness would cause a similar pathology as this auto-immune disease (except you’re still only given the symptoms of the autoimmune disease so you need to figure out what it is first).

It’s frustrating, but it’s also fun. I like being challenged.

I had typed up another rant about how little time my school gives us to study, but decided that’s not the kind of thing I want to be posting here, at least, not repeatedly.  Also, I’m in a really good mood right now and I shouldn’t be ruining it with complaints! I just took one of the official self assessment exams that the NBME (National Bord of Medical Examiners) puts out for people to get an idea of how they’ll score on the real exam, and I did okay. I didn’t get an “I can take this last week off from studying score!” but I also didn’t get an “Oh no. I need to move my exam date and panic” score.

It’s really tempting to take the rest of today off, but I should review the questions I got wrong on the assessment, and I had also wanted to do 92 practice questions from my qbank (this is not me being weird with numbers; the real exam is seven blocks of 46 questions, each of which takes about an hour, so it’s about a seven hour exam, not including break time). Ahmet’s at a U2 concert tonight (he bought two tickets but I decided I’d be too stressed about my exam to enjoy it, so he sold the extra one), so I’m also feeling a bit like now’s my chance to slack off while he’s not watching! Which makes absolutely no sense.

What I’m saying is, I really need to stop babbling in here and get back to studying. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Written by Aba

June 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Medical School, Step 1


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9 days till Step 1.

15 days till Third Year Orientation.

And 4 months till my 25th Birthday. I haven’t felt weird about an upcoming birthday in years, but for some reason the idea of being twenty-five soon feels significant.

I’d be reflecting a lot more on all of this, except right now I’ve got my study blinders on and I’m focusing on this exam. I’m also doing my best to forget that this exam is only part 1 of a 3 part (really, four part) process.

I did finally get a monitor though! (lower left corner = arm warmers, because my hands get cold. Also, yes, I’m using my laptop as my keyboard).

Ahmet’s boss had an old monitor that he had no intention of ever using again so he gave it to us, as in, we’re not borrowing it; we own it now. It’s very large for only being a 20″ screen, but the quality is more than good enough for what I need, and it was free! In return, I gave his boss some of these:

I made vanilla meringues and chocolate mousse from scratch a week ago. As a study/social break, Ahmet and I went over to the home of a married couple we recently met and had dinner, and played with their two  absolutely adorable pekingese/poodle mixes. They’ve made Ahmet, who’s normally a cat person, feel more open to the idea of owning dogs someday.

Meringues are wonderfully easy to make, except I advise only making them if you have some sort of an electric mixer… I made these entirely by hand and it took me about an hour to whip them stiff enough. Ahmet came home toward the end and helped out and even with both of us taking turns, we were worried that we were going to have to declare the meringues a failure.

And now back to studying!

Written by Aba

June 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Studying Day 3

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I’m on my third day of hardcore dedicated studying for the Step 1, while in Seattle. I’ve claimed a corner of Ahmet’s room and have been spending more time actively studying every day than I think I do during exam weeks. It’s been intense. I’m not done setting up my desk here (going to be getting a monitor, for one. Ten inch screen? Not so great for this).

Part of me is a little bitter about the fact that my school gives us only exactly five weeks off in between second year and third year, making for not much study time for me and my classmates (The popular dates they’ve picked are June 9th or 10th, followed by June 14th. That’s a max of about 4.5 weeks study time). I’ve heard of many people at other schools who have been able to set aside 6-9 weeks of study time. I really wish I had another week or two to read some review books or listen to some audio lectures or something else before really diving into focusing on high yield material, but I simply don’t.

Ok, whining over! Students at my school consistently score well despite this handicap, so let’s hope that statistic applies to me and not just my class as a whole!

I have some old pictures from last block that I was going to post, but I really need to get back to studying. Yesterday I was talking to someone (not a med student) and he asked when my test was, and I said June 11th, and he was like “Oh, you’ve got  plenty of time.” Sigh. Not really. =/

Written by Aba

May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Medical School, Step 1

Time Wrangling

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I started this post three days ago but haven’t managed to set the time aside for it. To help with that (more importantly, to help with my grades and future Step 1 score), after once again failing to like computer based planning tools, I was going to buy a planner, but I don’t really like most planners, and then I was thinking of getting a plain spiral bound notebook, but in the bookstore yesterday I remembered that 4×6 index cards exist (I’be been using 3×5 cards which are great but a bit small for more detailed planning) so I’m going to try those.

And I really do need to spend more time planning (except, I need to spend more time legitimately planning, and not doing things like staring at my school calendar for future years and noting that I graduate on May 17th 2013, even though the school year ends on May 5th. Or trying to figure out plane tickets for the two trips I’m making in April, when it really makes more sense to wait at least a few more weeks before I buy). I misread the school schedule for today and thought I needed to be there at 9am for a small group, when really it didn’t start till 10:15 and it wasn’t even a small group. And I didn’t realize my mistake until after I’d already woken up really early to finish studying for my Quiz today because I thought I wouldn’t have much time later. Now I’m slightly sleep deprived, my Quiz isn’t for four and a half more hours, and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I think I’m going to finish watching Monday’s lectures and then do some final review.

And might I add that I object to this being called a quiz. Something worth 42% of the grade of a class that is this many credit hours is not a quiz.

So I think I made the right decision to take the Step 1 at 8am, instead of at noon. I don’t do well having several idle hours awake before I need to take a test. I want to wake up, get there, and do it. I don’t need extra time to stress myself out. Also, the idea of taking a test past daylight is distinctly unappealing (it’s about an eight hour test).

In cheerier news, a gift from my lil’ sib! I’m not really a highlighter user (maybe step 1 studying will change that?) but I’m excited about the pens and the fact that they came with a bonus pencil, even if it’s a 0.7mm pencil. It’ll be better for filling in the scantron sheets for exams than my 0.5mm ones! And the peanut butter cookies are really good! I though they were going to be crunchy but they’re still a bit chewy, which I like. I’m starting to run low on jam to give her so I need to make sure to write down her next exam date on my calendar so I can bake her something. Anyone have any vegan recipes they’re fond of?

Written by Aba

January 12, 2011 at 10:19 am

Posted in Medical School, Step 1

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