Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Confession (how I'm spending the summer)

I'm currently studying for step 1. Again. For those of who don't know, the only way one repeats a USMLE step exam again is by failing... so, yes, I failed step 1 my first time taking it in April. All be it, I failed by a very slim margin, but failed none the less. I very aggressively debated the shame vs. potential merits of writing this post, of making my failure so public, settling on the decision that this may help another med student in my position and/or someone out there might have advice for me.

I'm now officially part of the approximately 5% of US medical students who fail the stinking 300 question test of annoying detail. From what I can gather, here is the normal response to failing: 0) Consider dropping out of medical school before reconsidering when calculating the debt already stacked up. 1) Only tell those who NEED to know but hide it from the rest of the world. 2) Cycle through the Kubler-Ross Grief cycle over and over again. 3) Fixate on how this might influence your future: will I be able to match into a residency program? will I match in bumbleville, nowhere in a specialty I don't actually want to be in? what if I never pass this f*ing test? 4) Spend a lot of time, energy, and money reapplying and scheduling the exam, reorganizing your 3rd year clinical rotations, deciding on a study schedule, and motivating to do it all again.

I'm sure this comes as no surprise to anyone, but I'm not normal. I've slowly told those around me in hopes of ensuring that my support system will be well established for this go around. I've also pretty much settled into the stages of anger, more anger, and some acceptance. I'm working on the emotional aspect though, just as I'm working on relearning all the nit picky details about biochemistry and anatomy. I've come back to my parents' house to study this time so that I can limit my distractions, am using a slightly different study strategies, and am integrating context from the medicine clerkship into facts I learned over the first 2 years of med school. I'm trying but it just kind of sucks. I miss my girlfriend, and feel guilty that I'm not around to support her through BAR studying like originally planned. I miss my cat. I'm bummed that I had to pull out of my next clinical rotation. I feel guilty that I had to pull out of speaking at a conference next month in order to keep studying.... and so much more.

However, there is a silver lining to everything right?
-I traded in the awful Southern summer heat and humidity for much milder temperatures
-An opportunity to reacquaint myself with a home, and extended family, I haven't spent much time in since graduating from high school 9 years ago.
-A second pass at all of this info may/will prepare me even more for the pimping to come over the next few years
-An opportunity to increase my score from just passing to much higher (G!d willing!)
-Motivation to apply for year-long research fellowships that could help boost my CV
-After telling my medicine attending, having her strongly respond with: "you must be a really bad test taker because you clearly know your medicine!"
-A solid reminder that I'm in the minority and therefor special. We all need that every now and again, right? (Okay, so this one may be a stretch)

But overall, 3 days in to restudying, the situation just sucks. Oh well. What other option do I have than to pick myself up and keep trekking forward?

Posts will be few and far between as I fall deeper and deeper into the land of step studying but, assuming I can find my way out, I will eventually return.

1 comment:

EmFish said...

HUGE props to your attending for giving a totally positive (and I'm sure, true!) response. I hope it made your day and that you play it over and over in your head.