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Free at Last!

Well, it’s finally over – I just took Step 1 this morning and am thrilled to be done! After sequestering myself in self-imposed isolation for the past month, I can now fully rejoin the land of the living. And I’m going to start by playing Whirlyball tonight as part of the MSTP Second Look Weekend.

I’ve learned a lot during my study period, not least of which was First Aid’s content. For those with Step 1 still looming on the horizon, here’s some of the non-academic tips I’ve learned since my last post:

  • Don’t be afraid to start “studying” for Step 1 during the school year by reviewing Step 1 materials for each sequence. Before each exam, I reviewed the relevant sections in Step 1 review materials (First Aid, Pathoma, Step 1 Secrets, Robbins), which helped it solidify in my mind and also made me more familiar with the resource’s layout. Pathoma, in particular, was really helpful in summarizing the pathology for each sequence.
  • Don’t use a billion resources during the dedicated period. Throughout my M2 year, I used a lot of Step 1 materials. When making my schedule, I planned to continue to use the majority of them but soon realized that there was not enough time in the day. Decide which resources are essential and focus on them; otherwise, you spend a little bit of time on each resource and a lot of time running around like a chicken with its head cut off (believe me, I did).
  • When making your Step 1 schedule, keep your usual study methods in mind, even if they aren’t represented in the myriad study schedules that have been posted online. I started out with a fairly standard study schedule, scrapped it after 2 days because I wasn’t covering the material like I needed to, wasted a week handwriting 1000+ flashcards (that I never reviewed after that week) because I panicked, and then finally just read through First Aid over and over. While my final method may not work for everyone, it is essentially the same thing I did during each sequence – read through the coursepack every day until it was time to take the test. I wasted that week trying to study in a completely new way, instead of just trusting myself. I need to see material multiple times before it sinks in; consequently I read First Aid in its entirety approximately 5 times.
  • The dedicated period is an emotional roller coaster. There will be panic attacks, and you will probably cry at least once (or twice). This period is incredibly difficult for everyone; don’t be tentative in reaching out for help when you need it. In addition to commiserating with other medical students (I would suggest friends who are in the classes above you as they will be less panicked and more full of helpful wisdom), don’t forget your friends and family. Sometimes a hug is what you need most.
  • Breathe. By the end of the dedicated study period, you have worked so hard. Just trust yourself and have faith. Everything will work out.

I’m so relieved that it’s over. Good luck to those who are still studying – you will do great!