Hello and happy (rather belated) New Year! I apologize for the lengthy interval since my last blog post; not that it is a legitimate excuse, but 2011 has been off to a very busy start for the M2s! I’m not sure why this stuck with me, but I remember sitting in the first pathology lecture Dr. Ramsburgh gave to our class on our very first day of medical school, at one point during which he pointed to a slide and jokingly said, “Remember that. It will be on the Boards.” He continued amidst the laughter, “Seriously, though, that test is so close for you guys, it might as well be tomorrow. That’s how fast your pre-clinical years are going to go.”
While, at the time, April of 2011 seemed months and months—not to mention tests and tests—away, I should have known to have faith in trusty Dr. Ramsburgh’s wisdom. After what feels like a mere flash of time, there is a definite, forward-pulling momentum signaling to us that our second year of medical school is rapidly coming to an end. As is such, this is a very exciting, albeit somewhat nerve-wracking, time for the M2s.
The first sign that third year—and the accompanying clinical world of medical school—is near was our submission of track preferences last week. For those unfamiliar, Michigan has twelve “tracks” of third-year rotations, lettered A-L, each with a slightly different order of the seven clerkships we will do in the coming year. Although the process of selecting track preferences is notorious for being inflated every year to seem more important than it actually is, there are certain aspects of the order of rotations that are important to students (for example, what rotation one wants to start or end with, which rotation one wants to do in the dead of winter or—in my mind more importantly!—during football season). We will find out our track assignments in early March, at which time we will also know which of our classmates are on the same track (ie people with whom we will be spending lots of time next year!)
Another fast-approaching milestone of M2 year is the Comprehensive Clinical Assessment, or CCA. This is a practical-style exam in which we perform various parts of a history and physical at different stations. For example, we will have fifteen minutes to complete a full cardiac exam on a standardized patient, during which a faculty member will assess our proficiency at the different components of this exam. I’m definitely nervous for the CCA, which is exactly one week away, but I’m also—in a sense—excited for the exam, as it represents a culmination of a year and a half of learning and fine-tuning physical exam and history-taking skills. Not only is this a rite of passage of the second year of medical school at UM, but the preparation for the exam is also critical in further developing these skills for the actual patients we will be seeing in less than four months.
All in all, it’s a hectic but very exciting time right now for my class, and one that is approaching the significant transition between the M2 and M3 years, which we have been told is one of the most drastic transitions we will face in our professional lives. Standing between us and the hospital is one other little thing that I (intentionally) failed to mention, namely Step 1 of the Boards and the five week study period preceding it. Luckily, though, there’s too much else going on right now to dwell on that just yet, so I will save that for a future post!