How to transition from the classroom to clinic


Moving from the classroom to the clinic is tough. Here’s what I’ve learned on the wards.

As you make the conversion from medical school classroom knowledge to clinical knowledge, there will be adjustments. After completing the first two years of medical school, AKA The Basic Science Years, and conquering what many consider to be the most important exam a medical student will ever take – the USMLE Step 1 exam, there is still more to learn. Medical school and the USMLE Step 1 exam play a role in helping you prepare for the wards, but the clinical side of medicine will present itself with new tests and evaluations.

Clinical makes you feel feelings

There is no doubt that you will feel a range of emotions as you transition from the medical school classroom to the clinical classroom. You will be eager, yet apprehensive. You will feel like your brain has tons of information crammed in it, yet you still know so little. You will initially doubt yourself, and most clinical decisions you make, once you realize that your patient’s (Yes, your patient!) signs and symptoms are not as black and white as the cases are in the textbooks you memorized.… view full post »

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4 things to do before starting residency


I made a point to do a Euro trip before starting residency; here I am in Venice!

Travel & catch up with friends

I’m a strong believer in investing in experiences rather than tangible items, which is why I saved up as much as possible to travel before officially starting residency. My last clerkship ended on March 31st, so I planned a trip around Europe for April as well as to attend the AMWA Centennial Meeting. In the month of May, I took a couple of weekend trips to catch up with friends across the country – I went to Tallahassee and Milwaukee to visit friends and catch up. Put those airline miles you accumulated over the 4th year interview trail to work!

Do a medical school cleanse

During my preclinical years, I printed at least a thousand pages of lecture notes that have filled numerous 3” binders. My shelves are also overflowing with my review books and textbooks. In an effort to start anew in residency, I’ve slowly been sorting through it all to determine what I can sell on Amazon and what needs to be thrown out. It’s incredible how much stuff medical school … view full post »

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How to Choose Your Medical Specialty


There are many factors that go into choosing a medical specialty.

Choosing a medical specialty is no easy task. There are many things that you must consider when choosing a medical specialty. Some things you will be able to control while others you will have absolutely no control over, unfortunately. Currently, I am trying to decide which medical specialty is the best fit for me. Here I will share with you five things that I feel are very important when trying to decide on a medical specialty.

USMLE® scores

The competition is real! In order to be competitive and considered for any residency, you must make sure that your USMLE scores are competitive. The hard, yet honest truth is, if you do not make outstanding scores, your chances of landing a more competitive residency (i.e. dermatology, radiology, etc.) decrease drastically.

Be true to yourself

Knowing yourself and being honest with yourself is crucial at this stage. You must be, both, realistic and brutally honest with who you are as a person. If you like to be in total control of things, maybe surgery is a better specialty for you. If you like contact with people and to build … view full post »

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How to Prepare your Residency Applications this Summer


Your goal for the end of the summer is to have all ERAS fields complete so that when September 15th rolls around, you just have to click “Submit.”

This summer, newly minted fourth year medical students across the country will flock to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) in order to apply to allopathic residency programs. Most medical schools sent students their individualized token in the late-Spring or early-Summer so that they may enter the system and start populating the numerous sections such as general information, experience, publications and personal statement. The system is also used to send instructions to your letter of recommendation authors on how to submit a letter on your behalf to include with your application. The first day to submit your application for the MyERAS 2016 cycle will be September 15, 2015. Similar to the MyERAS 2015 cycle, your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) will be released on October 1, 2015. The interview cycle can run from October-February with National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) rank order lists due by February 24, 2016. Match Day for the 2016 cycle will be on Friday, March 18th, 2016.

As most medical … view full post »

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Tips for my First Year Self, Four Years Later


Advice for first years from someone who’s been there.

As the fourth year of medical school draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve grown in the last four years. Medicine really changes who you are, whether you like it or not. Looking back, I’ve learned a lot and have some pearls from my mentors and my experiences.

If you’re entering your first year of medical school, or even your second year, here are some tips to help you make sense of your med school experiences:

Studying: It’s What’s For Dinner

  1. Remember, as a medical student, your job is being a medical student. Don’t get caught up with doing too many things… focus your energy primarily in learning medicine as well as you can.
  2. Time put into studying is proportional to the comfort you have with medicine. Each year of medicine is a foundation for the next… which becomes the foundation for your career.
  3. As much as the studying sucks, how well you do on the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2CK indicates how competitive your residency application is. So, in short, study hard! It is a marathon, not a sprint.

Life Lessons from a Fourth Year

  1. You

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Three Things I Learned on Away Rotations


This lovely sight greeted me every morning during my Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care rotation at Mattel Children’s Hospital (University of California Los Angeles).

During my fourth year, I used all three elective months to do away rotations because exposure to a variety of clinical environments is helpful for learning, networking and future planning. I picked an away rotation in both my intended specialty (anesthesiology) and an area in which I was interested (pediatrics). But you may be unsure of how or even why to do any away rotation.

Medical students and faculty members across the country are divided in their opinion of away (or audition) rotations. Certain competitive specialties expect applicants to have done away rotations, while others do not. For a field like anesthesiology, I think it could go either way. If you look mediocre on paper and know that your strengths lie in your clinical acumen and interpersonal skills, it may work in your favor to do an away rotation at a dream institution. However, if your residency application is strong to begin with, it may not be necessary – and could be detrimental – to do an away rotation. Either way, critically residency appraise your … view full post »

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The Sacrifices I Made in Medical School

Have you had to make sacrifices in med school?

Have you had to make sacrifices in med school?

Medical school can be a very stressful time, so it’s nice to be able to do something outside of medicine in order to keep you sane (especially when you’re preparing for the USMLE). I have classmates that use sports and exercise as their outlet, and other foodie classmates who love to cook and go to new restaurants around town. There are others who draw or paint, and others who give Best Buy’s Geek Squad a run for their money when it comes to anything tech related. But for me, it’s music.

Making my own music

A friend of my mother had purchased a saxophone in hopes of learning to play (hello, midlife crisis!) but never got around to doing so. When she found out I had joined the band at school and wanted to play the saxophone, she gave it to me. As a freshman in high school I practiced to keep up with the competitive culture and tried my best to stand out so I could earn myself a spot on the marching field. It was tough and no matter how hard I tried I still didn’t sound as good … view full post »

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Four Things You Should Know Before Your Third Year

Medical School Blog

Here’s how you can survive your third year of medical school.

As a third year, you now have the unique opportunity to participate in hands-on patient care! I was so excited to start my third year of medical school. Instead of reading about a 2/6 holosystolic murmur you finally get to hear it yourself. It’s amazing how much more information you retain when you actually get to see, hear, feel and smell all of the things you had only experienced in class or behind the screen.

Below you’ll find a list of the four most important lessons I learned during my third year of medical school.

It’s not all about you and your education

The first and most important lesson you will learn during your third year is that patients come first. It sounds obvious but as someone who has literally been a student for his or her entire life, this transition can prove to be a challenging one. Once you become a student rotating through the hospital, you will quickly learn it’s not all about you. This is an important thing to realize because it transforms your learning experience.

Attending physicians do a great job of balancing patient … view full post »

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Accelerated Step 2CK Study Guide

We’ve heard it before: USMLE Step 2CK is not as important as Step 1. The truth is that it is important. In fact, 80% of Program Directors surveyed agree that it is a key factor in selecting applicants to interview*, even more important than your personal statement or your performance in clerkship. And you nailed that.

Entering into a solid study plan before you know the facts can be tricky. It’s why we recommend reviewing the USMLE’s content outline before you dive in to your study plan. Know your enemy, they say.

Don’t worry: This accelerated Step 2CK High Yield study plan will help keep you on track so you can get that high score. Don’t forget about those Qbank blocks; they will give you that spaced repetition you need to build your confidence.

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Week Section # of lectures Duration of section (hr:min) Duration at x1.5 speed (hr:min) Qbank Blocks
1 Infectious Diseases 10 3:28 2:18 5
Allergy & Immunology 1 0:27 0:18
Cardiology 10 5:16 3:31
2 Endocrinology 5 2:17 1:31 5
Pulmonology 9 2:59 1:59
Rheumatology 8 1:36 1:04
Hematology 9 2:49 1:53
3 Gastroenterology 4 1:42 1:08 5
Neurology 8 2:42 1:48
Nephrology 8 3:48 2:32
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March 2015: The USMLE® Step 1 Test Change


What does the March 2015 bulletin mean?

by Christopher Cimino, MD, FACMI
Vice President, Kaplan Medical

What does it mean when the USMLE® reduces the number of questions on their Step 1 exam from 322 to 308?

The short answer is: more time per question, right?

Yes, but there’s more. What people really want to know is what’s really going on, but the USMLE organization isn’t offering an explanation. We know the 322 questions are composed of some questions that cover the stated topics in roughly the stated proportions as described in the USMLE Bulletin. We also know that there are a few questions that aren’t counted toward the score. These un-scored questions are new items that are being tested to determine if they are good enough to be used in future USMLE exams. Our best guess is that when these 14 questions are removed in May 2015, the new exam will be in roughly the same proportion as the original exam.

So, this means that examinees should study in the same proportion as always.

The other implication is that each question is now worth more towards the score. But consider that the USMLE and National Board of … view full post »

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