Step 2, check!

13 09 2012

Goodness, have I been a slacker or what?

Well, no, I’ve been working my tush off, which is why I haven’t posted in a while.  Since my last post, I’ve started my graduate classes, started my neurology clerkship, studied for Step 2, and taken Step 2 (CK this past Saturday, CS this past Monday).  Today, I had two quizzes to take for neurology didactics, and let me tell you that after having taken all of Step 2 in 3 days, the last thing I wanted to do the day after CS was study more—on second thought, the last thing I wanted to do was drive several hours back from the CS testing center.

While it may not have been the best choice when considering my sanity, I am glad that I could get Step 2 over with quickly.  Just like pulling off a band-aid—over 16 hours.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of the USMLE (US Medical Licensing Exam), there are 3 basic steps. Step 1 is an 7-hour written exam taken between the 2nd and 3rd years of medical school, and is generally considered the most important and most difficult exam of medical school.  Step 2 is divided into 2 parts: the Clinical Knowledge (CK) portion is an 8-hour written exam, and the Clinical Skills exam (CS) is an 8-hour practical exam that involves doing 12 histories and physical exams on simulated patients, then writing a note after each that includes a history of present illness, physical exam findings, differential diagnoses with supporting evidence, and a list of the diagnostic tests to order next.  But here’s the kicker: there are only 5 sites in the country to take the exam, so unless you are lucky and live in (or do an away rotation in) one of those cities, you have to travel, which adds time, stress, and cost to an already  time-consuming, stressful, and costly exam.  Step 3 is another 2-day exam with an 8-hour written exam the first day, and a 3-hour written exam plus 4 hours of patient cases the second day.  But that doesn’t happen until the first year of residency.

I found this cartoon, which pretty accurately describes the emotions of Step 1, block by block:

Of course, in order to describe Step 2, please make the following change in your imagination: an additional haggard face below the last, with the forehead, mouth, and skin under the eyes drooping, glasses askew, and eyes unfocused.  The caption would read “Block 8: no longer focused enough to read the entire question stem, indiscriminately choosing answers because ‘this one looks good,’ mind drifting to the things you will do after the exam is finally over.”

So, that’s that.  It came, it went, I don’t want to do it again.  Let’s cross our fingers that I passed

I had a question via review on my last post concerning my schedule for this year.  For the benefit of those of you who don’t know me, I am a dual-degree student earning an MD/MPH degree.  Because of the structure of the program, I am taking a year “out” to do primarily the master’s classes, but to keep my head in the game as far as medicine is concerned, I’ve arranged to do some of my clerkships longitudinally.  This means that, instead of doing my neurology clerkship 4 weeks straight, I will be in the clinic 1-2 days per week for 15 weeks.

So that’s that for now.  My master’s classes started two weeks ago, and my goodness is it a change of pace!  After 3 years of medical school, being in graduate classes is—so far—not a challenge at all.  I’m sure as the semester goes on the work will be more difficult, especially where statistics is concerned, but everything just seems so new and interesting and downright cool that the homework doesn’t feel like actual work.

My favorite class is easily my Principles of Emergency Management class, which is good, because my MPH concentration is emergency preparedness.  It seems like an odd decision for someone who is not really interested in being an ER doc, but hey, the whole topic is absolutely fascinating to me.  Just being in that class makes me glad I chose to take an extra year to do the dual-degree program.  It has been very strange, though, to watch my classmates complete and submit their ERAS applications, seriously research residency programs, prepare for couples matches, and make final decisions about their specialties of choice.  The friends I began medical school with will all be licensed, practicing physicians in just under 10 months.

So that’s my life update at the moment.  Aside from Step 2, nothing too exciting, but now that I’ve got more free time, I did promise to recount some of my stories from surgery.

But for now, it’s bedtime




4 responses

13 09 2012

Congrats on being done w/ the Step 2 nonsense! I’ll be done in Oct (yay!). Such great fun!

16 09 2012
Jane doe

How much time you took for CK preparation?

16 05 2013

3 weeks, and my score was pretty good as far as I know

3 10 2012
2 Steps Closer to Residency | MD2B

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