Hello from the other side! The biggest hurdle of my 4th year of medical school is complete! I took USMLE STEP 2 CK (clinical knowledge) this past Wednesday in Atlanta–at the same place I took STEP 1 for added nostalgia. I had a 3.5 week study period and pretty much burned out in 3 weeks. It was the first time I had ever wished I scheduled an exam earlier! Looking back, it was probably because I studied so hard throughout my entire third year and there was no break between that and fourth year. My first rotation of fourth year was my sub-internship which was pretty intense with the hours and expectations. So by the time this exam came around, I only had so much to give. There were a lot more earlier nights and later mornings than I had planned. I was just exhausted. But I serve a powerful God and I was given the strength and grace to finish the drill. Now I feel like the worst is behind me. It’s pretty much smooth sailing from here, in terms of exams I mean. I take the CS (clinical skills) exam in October, so that’s not really on my radar at the moment.
The actual exam was exactly 316 questions–6 blocks of 40 and 2 blocks of 38. This ls longer than STEP 1 which was 7 blocks total instead of 8. I did 2-3-3 in terms of my breaks for the people who know more about the structure. Similar to STEP1, it felt like a time vortex. The first block started off slow and I flagged a few more questions because I second guessed myself as I was getting into the swing of things. Once I got one under my belt, the rest just kept moving. I’d have an average 7-10 mins left at the end because I don’t like to waste time thinking about things when I know I’m not going to change my answer. “Just keep it moving” was my motto. I mark questions only when I think I may change my answer. Otherwise, even if I was clueless I wouldn’t go back because I didn’t see the point if the answer wasn’t going to change. I didn’t want to take a break so early in (after 2 blocks), but I had to pee so I had to. There was this other girl at my site taking the same exam and I swear she never moved. She was my motivation–until she left while I was just starting on block 7 haha.
I truly felt like my exam was very fair. I got a really good mix of different topics from surgery to OB to neuro. I didn’t feel like the exam showed any favoritism. The number of questions that I was completely confused about was comfortable for me; my preparation was certainly not in vain. This is one of the main differences between my sentiments towards STEP 2 vs. STEP 1. This one was so much more applicable and the material was more palatable than STEP 1 where I felt like it was such a massive load of information that just didn’t mean that much to me. I was answering questions on STEP 2 based on patients I remember treating vs. my photographic memory of First Aid. Also, I thought the questions on the exam weren’t as challenging as a lot of the questions on UWorld or the UW self assessments. Some were similar in caliber and few were more difficult. I didn’t do the NBMEs so I can’t compare with those. During my study block I was able to complete the entire UW set of questions and dabble a little into my missed questions. I got through it once during my third year and reset it before my study block. So I was pretty familiar with those questions by the time the exam came around. I was doing 4 blocks a day so I’d say my studying was 70% UW and 30% reading.
To celebrate my accomplishments I spent the weekend in Houston with my sister and niece. If you follow my blog this isn’t news to you. When I got there my sister said “I hope you don’t think you’re here for vacation” 😂😂 she really had me washing her dishes, watching baby while she got her work done, sweeping her place, folding laundry, etc. The list goes on. I was happy to help her out though because she normally has to do all this stuff herself, so I was glad to give her a weekend off mom duty. Plus I love my neice as much as she gets on my nerves, she’s so stinking cute!
This week starts a new rotation! I’m back in the family medicine department doing a procedures elective. I’m looking forward to it because it’s going to be pretty low intensity but I’ll be gaining some skills that will be helpful in the long run. Some common procedures that Family medicine physicians provide are joint infections, mole removals, IUD placements, colposcopy, laceration repairs, etc. Our program also offers colonoscopy, endoscopy, and acupuncture as well. I’m going to be doing and learning a lot, plus working regular hours with no weekends, so I’m a happy camper. This will give me time to work on my residency application. I’m just about done but still have some finishing touches to put on it. We submit September 15 so under a month to go!
Last but not least, it’s my birthday week!! I turn 25 years old on Thursday Aug 23rd! I’m so thankful for another healthy year of life and I’m having a party in Atlanta this weekend to celebrate success and God’s grace with my friends. 25 is the year that I become an MD and discover where I’m going to be doing the next phase of my training. Wow, it’s just crazy to see the progression of my life and I’m so excited for what’s to come! Happy early birthday to me 🙂
I’m just getting back in town from my trip and it’s already almost midnight so I need to quickly get my life together and prep for a new week! Have a good week!