Friday, September 6, 2013

Step by Step

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The first two years of Medical School exist to prepare you for one seminal moment in your medical career.  That moment is when you take your first Board exam called "USMLE Step 1".  The last four years I have been so focused on sitting for the MCAT and getting into Medical School that nothing else has occupied my mind.  Although I have not been accepted into Medical School, I  recently started focusing on it and making plans for how I will approach it.

Although there may be some debate about this, I believe that the one key component which will allow you to apply to any residency unimpeded will be your Step 1 score.  I always thought that as long as you score a 99 on the Step 1 you could write your ticket, but this is not the whole story.  There are actually two scores and even if you are in the "99" range the second score can vary anywhere from 240-270+.  From my research I have been able to determine that scoring a 250 is very good, the top people are in the 260 range, and the godly freaks are in the 270 range.

Getting into Medical School will make me supremely happy, however that isn't my ultimate goal.  I will probably be accused of "gunnerism" for my approach to medical school, but I prefer to think that I am going into my future studies fully informed about the process.  As a non-traditional student, I am lucky to have already lived and done many of the things I wanted.  I have traveled the world extensively, lived abroad, married a wonderful woman, and enjoyed many reunions with friends.  As an undergrad I only wanted "to get my degree".

This time around, I want to see what I am really capable of, to fully embrace the process, and actually push myself to excel.  Most importantly, when it comes time to choose my residency I don't want my academic performance to have closed any doors.  I want the freedom to choose from any residency.  Even if I ultimately choose Family Medicine, which does not require a super high Step 1 score, I still want to have had the option to choose Neurosurgery or Dermatology.

Traditionally most Medical Students will use their 6 week break after the second year of Medical School to study for and take the Step 1 exam.  I plan on starting much much earlier.  From my first day I am going in with one thing in mind, to crush that test.  I will use every resource available to me to ensure that I am more than prepared on test day.

I have been formulating a plan to achieve just that, but it is still not complete.  What I have learned from the MCAT, is that I am not a super-freak that will be able to collate 2 years of study in just 6 weeks.  Taking the long term approach and making sure I continually maintain and refine my medical knowledge as I learn it, is really the only way I can expect to come out with a top score on that test.

Of course all this planning is still dependent on getting accepted into Medical School, so here is to hoping my interviews go well.