How to Study for USMLE Step 1

This is a guest post from Eric who blogs at Medical Student Syndrome. Eric scored a 248/99 on USMLE Step 1, which is an excellent score. He was kind enough to share his methods for scoring so well. Enjoy the post and read more at his blog!  (Updated for 2013-2014)

A few months ago I took the USMLE Step 1 exam. This is a comprehensive exam covering pretty much everything a medical student is expected to learn the first two years. It is a daunting exam. It is a long exam. And it can even become a pretty emotional exam if you allow it to take control of you. For all of you first and second year medical students who are curious/worried about this exam, let me preface this post be telling you a little bit about myself. I scored a 248/99 on this exam. I was extremely satisfied with that score, and I actually felt that I scored outside of my range. I also do not feel that I am of above average intelligence. As a matter of fact, I can be flat out stupid most of the time. But I worked extremely hard for that score. I studied relentlessly for this exam with a focus that rivals that of a Buddhist monk. And to be honest, you need to be focused and determined in order to score well on this exam. So let’s get into it. How do you score well on this exam?

Continue reading How to Study for USMLE Step 1

Switching Gears

Last Monday we started a Hematology/Oncology or Hem/Onc. The Friday before we finished Infectious Disease. After a week of Hem/Onc I am beginning to realize how difficult it is going to be to switch between classes so quickly.

You just start to get into a groove, everything is starting to click, then boom you’re done and onto a different course. New professors, new material and a whole new approach to studying.

This last week was hard but I think I’m getting a grip on Hem/Onc. It is more conceptual than ID which means less brute force memorization. This is a change of pace I appreciate. But it is still an adjustment.

Do you readers have any advice on how to adjust to the changing pace of second year?

First Clinic

Last week I started seeing patients in an actual clinic!

I will be going to the same clinic every other week for the rest of the year. Second year students at Creighton are spread out at clinics throughout Omaha. My preceptor is a pulmonologist who is great to work with. She asked me questions but I never felt interrogated and was eager to teach.

Seeing real patients and real disease was a welcome change from memorizing dozens of bugs and drugs and trying to apply them to fake cases. In clinic we saw a couple people for respiratory infections. Each patient was different and the doctor had to consider allergies, prior lung disease and likely cause of the infection in deciding the antibiotic to treat with. We had learned all this in Infectious Disease, but seeing it in practice was incredibly refreshing.

I was able to interview one patient on my own and it actually went really well. It helped that the patient was very nice and easy to talk to, a thoughtful way for my preceptor to ease me into seeing patients.

Tomorrow is a different story however. Tomorrow is my Infectious Disease final. Yikes. Wish me luck!

Fellow med students- what was your first experience seeing patients like?

Art by a Med Student

Check out these pieces by Stephen Gaeta, a med student who recently finished his PhD.

Titled: Beat Poetry

Titled: Extra-Ocular

These prints and more can be purchased at the Street Anatomy Store. I am quite fond of Beat Poetry, maybe it will be hanging in my office in the near future?

Also, you should follow the Street Anatomy blog if you get a chance, it is awesome!