A First Year’s Typical Med School Week

Photo Credit: FonnaTasha / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo Credit: FonnaTasha / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As an incoming student rep, I have the pleasure of contacting the admitted future doctors in the class of 2018. After their initial elation, they pose a myriad of questions. The most popular of those questions: “What is life like in medical school? Like, what does a normal week look like for you?”

Since it is asked quite frequently, I figured I’d break it down for you. So, my friends, here’s a typical med school week:

Monday

Med school Mondays, much like working people Mondays, or any-other-type-of-school Mondays, tend to be decently rough. They start with lecture from 8-10 am, followed by lab (histology or anatomy) or small groups (usually team based learning) from 10-12 pm. Our block exams almost invariably land on Mondays, resulting in a sometimes extra-rough start to the week. On these days, our 8-10 am final exam is immediately followed by the first two lecture hours of our brand new block. Ouch.

At the beginning of the year, Monday evenings were prime time to cash in on the student discount at our local rock climbing gym. However, I’ve become more involved in … view full post »

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A Global Elective as a MS4: India

Photo Credit: Sanyam Bahga / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo Credit: Sanyam Bahga / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Here in India, my views about medicine and treatment are challenged daily.  I will only be here four weeks, which is not nearly enough time to learn all I want to know about the culture of southern India, the language here, or the many ways in which the practice of medicine is different.

I am woefully unaware of how little I understand of what goes on around me.  I speak exactly four phrases in Kannada: I want, I don’t want, How much, and Beautiful.  I learned the last phrase to tell doting grandmothers how adorable their grandchildren are.  I would like to think it works, except everyone just gives me a strange look when I say it.  I can only see two options: either they’re so shocked to hear a foreigner speak Kannada that it doesn’t register, or (more likely) I’m saying it completely wrong and they assume that the gibberish is English.

Every day presents a new challenge or obstacle.  Some of them are petty, like learning which foods are intolerably spicy in the cantine, or wishing that internet was more widely available.  But … view full post »

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Lectures During Clerkships

On my Pediatrics clerkship, we had Morning Report three times a week in addition to a daily lunch lecture and other scattered morning lectures. Photo Credit: Amanda Xi

On my Pediatrics clerkship, we had Morning Report three times a week in addition to a daily lunch lecture and other scattered morning lectures.
Photo Credit: Amanda Xi

One of the things that many people don’t seem to realize is that lectures don’t end with the preclinical years. Some specialties definitely have more lectures than others, but a common theme across all of them is that there is always time carved into the schedule for lectures. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of hour after hours of lecture (I really believe there’s only so much one can retain from listening to more than a couple hours of lecture), admittedly, most of the lectures I’ve received during 3rd year have been relevant and interesting.

All specialties seem to have some sort of case presentation or discussion session about a recent case. I tend to enjoy these lectures since they involve walking the audience slowly through the differential diagnosis, what tests or labs to order and how to interpret the data collected. Generally, these presentations offer interesting discussion since the audience is comprised of various levels of trainees. Also, there are always numerous pearls here and there that end up … view full post »

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Step 1 3-Month Study Plan

IPAD STEP 1 HY PHOTO 3If you have about 3 months to study for USMLE® Step 1, how should you use your time?

First of all, do not study more than 8-10 hours/day, including question practice.  Also, try to take one day off per week so you can recharge.  Eat well, exercise and get proper rest for increased stamina and confidence.

You will need to assess your current performance level so you can decide what resources will be best.  A Diagnostic Exam is an excellent assessment tool to discover your strengths and weaknesses.  Then you can create a schedule for each phase of your preparation. This will minimize stress and allow you to make passes through materials to ensure you understand and can apply the knowledge learned.  Using a calendar, adjust the days to invest in strengthening your weaker subjects, by ‘borrowing’ time from stronger subjects.  Doing this will improve your overall exam performance.

Building a strong foundation of basic science knowledge is important, so use resources that will integrate your medical school studies most efficiently.  For example, Kaplan’s Step 1 High Yield course effectively does this, and includes Qbank. Using the High Yield and Qbank together is an effective way to stay energized and … view full post »

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Match Day Success For a Fourth Year Med Student

Greater Louisville Medical Society / Foter / CC BY

Greater Louisville Medical Society / Foter / CC BY

On Match Day, everyone is worried about the worst case scenario.

We had already received our emails from the NRMP informing us whether or not we had matched – we were just waiting to find out where we would be spending the next several years of our lives.

Over the past several months, I feel like I’ve had to clarify this point for many of my family and friends who are unfamiliar with the matching process: whatever location was written in that envelope was where I would be moving.  The contracts had already been signed when we submitted our ERAS applications, and if we wanted to be physicians, we HAD to go where we matched.  There are no alternatives, no last-minute decision changes.  Whatever the Match tells you – well, that’s how it is.

Needless to say, I was nervous.  I gathered in the atrium with my medical school classmates, many of us with family and friends who had come along for the Match Day festivities.  Going into pediatrics (which is one of the less competitive specialties), I was fairly certain I would get one of my top choices.  But as … view full post »

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Step Prep

Photo Credit: By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A curious trend has swept our campus over the past two months. It was subtle at first, but it only quickened its pace and became ever more apparent as the days passed by. I wish I could say it was due to coincidence, or that I didn’t understand the cause, but, alas, to claim either would be to lie. The second years are disappearing. USMLE® Step 1 is coming.

Now, the fact that the second years are disappearing into study caves in preparation for their April test dates doesn’t exactly affect me directly. Surely, I miss their presence on campus, and their mounting stress is sometimes palpable. However, if I were forced to diagnose the second-year exodus’ effect on me, it would be this: I just realized that I’ll be disappearing into my own study cave a year from now.

I admit that my Step 1 prep has been close to non-existent to this point, but I feel like that’s OK. My preparation philosophy thus far has been to trust the curriculum that my school has established. I trust that our administration has taken steps to maximize our chances … view full post »

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Congrats to all who matched!

UC Irvine / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

UC Irvine / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Congratulations to all who matched this week! We wish you the best today as you find out where you will spend your residency training.

Let us know in the comments where you matched!… view full post »

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Looking Forward to Third Year Medical School

Photo Credit: Emily Wasson

Photo Credit: Emily Wasson

Now that I have my classroom time behind me it’s time to start looking to what third year has in store for me. I am simultaneously thrilled and nervous. I am ecstatic at the prospect of being able to finally begin to really apply this mountain of knowledge that I’ve accumulated but the unknown always evokes a certain amount of apprehension.

For one thing, I’m hopelessly directionally challenged. It took me several months to be able to navigate the medical school building (which – in my defense – is sprawling and confusing in its own right). Thankfully, I’ve spent the past year doing a work study as an anesthesia tech in the OR so I am very comfortable in the operating rooms and the trauma bay down in the ER. However, that’s about the extent of what I know about the hospital and it doesn’t help that a gigantic new wing opens next month. Plus, we have multiple hospitals that we will end up rotating through, each of which is huge and completely different. I’ve already accepted the inevitable. I’m going to get lost. Probably multiple times. Thankfully, I have absolutely no qualms about asking for … view full post »

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Planning for USMLE Step 2 CK/CS

Caption: I might have gone a bit overboard on collecting Step 2 resources…  Photo Credit: Amanda Xi

Caption: I might have gone a bit overboard on collecting Step 2 resources…
Photo Credit: Amanda Xi

It feels like just yesterday that I sat down in the Prometric test center to take my USMLE® Step 1. Somehow, I’ve made it through about 75% of my third year and now need to start looking ahead to taking the USMLE Step 2. Although I will definitely be taking some dedicated time off to study for this exam, most people have advised that it isn’t necessary to spend even half the amount of time that I spent on Step 1 to prepare for Step 2. It makes me nervous that I won’t be following a five-week intensive study plan for Step 2, but I think that I have given myself enough time to meet my goal.

Step 2 is broken up into two components: Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS). The former is a 9-hour exam with 8 blocks of questions taken at a Prometric Center (similar to Step 1). The latter is essentially an 8-hour-long OSCE and can only be taken at five specialized testing centers across the country (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia). CS … view full post »

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On Thoughts and Plans for 4th Year Medical School

Photo Credit: By MC2 Daniel Barker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: By MC2 Daniel Barker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2011, I trained for my first half marathon. It was my first practice in schedule discipline, where keeping a schedule was essential to ensuring I could progress, and  in this case, progress by increasing my mileage week by week. Though it took several months, by sticking to the schedule, I was able to slowly build from running 1 mile up to 13.1 miles. The journey made me realize that when there is a will, there IS a way. That way just means a PLAN, and what one needs to remember is that you NEED to have a plan, not just a will.

That first practice in schedule discipline paid dividends when it came time to study for Step 1 the next year. Sticking to a schedule then was also essential, except this time, instead of increasing mileage, I had to maintain a schedule to ensure I could keep increasing in QBank questions and First Aid pages week by week. After USMLE® Step 1, 3rd year brought fluctuating hours, constant change, and shelf exams. Again, though it was much harder to keep a schedule this year, … view full post »

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