06 January 2011

Trying to remember to be calm and think

After a bit more than a year break from writing to indulge in general medical school freaking out, a summer research project and the start of second year, I'm thinking about writing again.  Brief update: the man and I have adjusted to living mostly apart, we got a second dog and so far I've passed all my courses.  I feel like I might have a bit more to think about and say as I am pushing through the pathology of various body systems, approaching Step 1 board exams and clinical rotations.

Exams are heavily on my mind as the current curriculum includes an exam for each body system we cover (including the related pharmacology) and the ever-present specter of Step 1 lurking over my precious free time.  Why is Step 1 so stressful?  Because residency programs (post-medical school training in a specialty) use it to rank applicants and there is an overwhelming relationship between where you do your residency and what kind of jobs are realistically available to you afterward.  My school has contracted with a paid review program to prepare us for Step 1 and yesterday my class took a short practice exam that is supposed to help us figure out our weaknesses and focus our studying - I'm hoping that the biggest suggestion isn't going to be all the systems we haven't covered yet!

As a generally good test-taker, I haven't worried much about standardized exams.  I used some study prep materials for the MCAT because I'd been out of school so long, but I didn't really stress about the exam.  Step 1 is a whole other beast in my mind, it feels ridiculously important, overwhelmingly difficult and is actually causing me major anxiety.  In times of trouble, I always fall back on old habits - including trying to cram hours and hours of studying into my life even when it becomes ineffective.  I'm trying to remember perspective and focus.

Thanks for checking in, hope to write more for you soon!

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