Just 7 more days till the end of pre-clinical education. I’ll take my board exam (STEP 1) in May — it’s mandatory in our program that you take STEP 1 prior to starting 3rd year, regardless of your score.
STEP 1 is a big deal, I look forward that exam also being over. I started studying for it sometime in October of last year, or rather I started “priming” to study for it by doing board exam practice questions. Once school is over, we’ll have a dedicated study period to study.
This last spring break, coincidentally my last spring break of my life, was spent re-studying the first year of biochemistry and its relation to pathology in various diseases. For those 5-days during spring break, business days, I did a standard 9 AM – 6 PM schedule. Given yesterday, I started working on things at 8 AM and finally wrapped things up around midnight, I found the 9 to 6 schedule to be quite tolerable. After 6 PM, I took the rest of the night off (usually), I’ve started to learn how to play they keyboard. Since I moved from California, I left my hobbies behind, including music. I sort of played the guitar, so while on vacation, I thought I might as well be terrible on the keyboard as well. My days were wrought with biochemical pathways, and my satiety was filled in the night by “music” time. During my actual dedicated board studying period, I hope to maintain some type of balance.
Today, as posted above, our 3rd year schedules were given to us. Although we put in our preference, it was more or less a lottery system and some black box algorithms that decided our schedule. In general, we get the latest cutting edge pager technology (a 90’s motorola), our “work” week is capped at 80 hours per week, some nights on call, a few 24/hr shifts here and there — as you might deduce, not all rotations are built like this. No matter the schedule, we get a dashing pager as a consolation prize. I’m not too broken up about my schedule, mostly because I still feel humble to be allowed to do this type of stuff, but also because I got a lot of the important things I wanted:
- Away rotations aren’t too crazy – I have several away rotations, but only one of them is a journey. My farthest one is about 1.5-2hr (one-way) public transit ride away from my home, and I don’t own a car (45-55 min drive as estimated by Google Maps), and it’s likely the other person on my rotation doesn’t have a car either. Should be fun.
- I got Ob/Gyn first, I’m both nervous and excited. We were told that at our site, there’s a good chance that every student will get to deliver a baby at least once. That’s pretty crazy. The rotation will have a mixture of birth, prenatal care, and surgery. The schedule will be rather hectic but the work rewarding. I wanted to just jump straight into the medical fire, so I got what I wanted there.
- The rest of my rotations are either at the medical campus I attend or somewhere not too far.
- I don’t need to do my traveling away rotations during the winter time! Last year, we got about 10-feet (nearly 3-meters) of snow, as a city we likely weren’t ready for 8-feet of it, and so transportation came to a dead stop.
- I get to do some work at the VA. Sometime last year, I went to the VA for a nursing shadowing program. The VA gets a lot of flack in the press, but not all are created equal, and bad press doesn’t affect their dedicated to patient care (even if not adequately supported). Again, the nursing staff was awesome!
- For internal medicine, my finale, I’ll get to revisit the same cardiology wards I spent time in for the last several months. I also look forward to the other departments I’ll rotate through along the way. And finally, although I didn’t plan it, it’s sort of fortuitous that I have internal medicine last, because that’s around the time I need to take STEP 2 (the other part of my board exam), it’ll be a good refresher.
It wasn’t really all that long ago that I was drowning in uncertainty about my life. I’ve had many jobs during college, and after, some of them even “required a degree”. So, I look forward to going back to work. I presume, just like the rest of the path to medicine, they’ll be a lot of ups and downs. I’m sure I’ll have great days and terrible days as a 3rd year, as I repeatedly learn by making mistakes. How else would we learn?
I look forward to what’s ahead, I’ll keep you updated!
If you have any question, feel free to ask in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org