Αξιον Ωφελειν τους Αλγουντας.” --Be Worthy to Serve the Suffering.

Member Profile

Monica Samelson (2016)
Member Type: Student, Senior Member Campus: Chicago
Specialty: Psychiatry Program: University of Washington School of Medicine
Advice
Do what works for you! I'll let you know what I did.

During M2 year:
-Firecracker. I don't have a good memory for rote details, so this helped me with some of those, even if my priority is always building conceptual frameworks. I would take notes in the notes sections to help clarify concepts for me so I remembered the big picture stuff (don't forget the forest for the trees) even while firecracker was helping me pound the little picture stuff into my brain.
-Pathoma. I watched the videos, took extensive notes in the book while watching, and was conscientious about absorbing and checking for understanding.
-Kaplan pharm. Same as for pathoma -- I watched, took extensive notes, was conscientious. Generally watched each section twice before the exam.
-Clinical Micro Made Ridiculously Simple.
-Big Robbins PRN and as time allowed. I liked reading big Robbins because I relished in the detail and context and building my own conceptual frameworks for things, but didn't always have time for this.
-CPP reviews
-(I did not go to lecture and I did not use first aid. Those just weren't things that worked for me.)

I took a UWorld practice test in January just to see where I was, then took the school one at the end of March. I ended up improving 39 points from the practice NBME in March.

During May practicum I did some detailed review of stuff that I felt I had forgotten too much from M1 year -- respiratory physio, neuroanatomy, biochem, micro.

Dedicated study time:
-I took four weeks.
-My days during dedicated study time included: firecracker review Qs in the morning, then review material, then UWorld Qs. I would take breaks for runs (was training for a half marathon with a non-med school friend, which kept me sane), for meals, and for quality couch time with my husband and cats (always important). I probably woke up around 7 or 8am and went to bed 11 or 12. I'm not very good at staying focused so I used the pomodoro method to stay on task for as long as it worked for me, which was a few weeks. I also used the self-control app.
-I built my schedule so that I'd be "done" reviewing a week before my exam -- I spent that week reviewing weaknesses, finishing up UWorld, and doing a bit of Step 1 Secrets.
-I took 2 more practice exams (NBMEs) during dedicated study time. I think I had planned to take 3, but the 2nd one ended up being pretty close to my goal and I didn't want to risk psyching myself out if I didn't do as well on the next one.
-I had built in cushion days (I think 2 of them?) for when I would inevitably fall behind (which I did -- if I hadn't, I would have taken those days off).
-I used Pathoma as a way to build the skeleton of my schedule: I basically just looked at how many minutes of video all the chapters were and divided this into reasonable chunks and distributed into the 3 weeks of review in my scheduled, leaving out days I'd scheduled for practice tests or for cushion days. While I was watching Pathoma during this time (second time through Pathoma), I typed up notes that reflected my own understanding of the material and added these into the firecracker notes section so I could review these each time the material came up in my firecracker review questions.
-When I was scheduled to go over a subject with Pathoma, I also went over the physio for that subject as needed. For example, the day of the cardio chapter of Pathoma, I started by reviewing BRS physio cardio, because I felt I needed that review. I didn't review physio for every subject because I didn't need a review for every subject (had been doing firecracker all year). I built in a day or two to review the miscellaneous stuff like anatomy, behavioral medicine, etc.
-I didn't actually flag everything in firecracker but I got really close. By the time dedicated review came around I had 300-400 review questions a day. I think it would be reasonable to only use firecracker for subjects that are heavy in detail (e.g. micro). I don't think I even kept doing the review Qs up to my test because it got so ridiculous and I never wanted to see the firecracker site interface ever again.
-I did a couple UWorld sets a day on timed, random. Doing it on this mode helped give me practice for the timing and pacing and variety of the real deal and also meant I reviewed material even if it wasn't specifically scheduled for that day. I hadn't touched UWorld before dedicated time. I just divided the number of questions by the number of days of study time and figured out how many I had to do each day to finish. I barely finished all of UWorld before my test.

The day of my test felt AWFUL. I must have gotten a really tough form, because for the first time in my life I didn't have lots of time at the end of sections, and I was marking more questions than I had been in UWorld sets. But I just kept morale up, assured myself I had studied hard, and tackled every question the best I could. And it was all good in the end. (I like to highlight this because you never know what you're gonna get the day of the test, but that doesn't mean your hard work isn't gonna pay off -- make sure you stay stoked for the test even if it feels miserable.)

So I think that's a good summary of what I did for step 1!

As for clerkship advice, that could be a whole essay, but I'll summarize with a few key points:
-Respect patients. Don't participate in a culture that dehumanizes people. It's subtle, and maybe this doesn't sound like advice for good evals, but I think it is anyway, and plus it's more important than evals.
-Be a yes person. Even if draining abscesses at 9pm on a Saturday doesn't sound fun to you, say yes anyway. Try to say yes more times than you feel like saying yes. You'll learn way more than you would otherwise, and you'll look good.
-"What can I help you with?" This one is especially easy if you're like me and hate being bored and would rather do any kind of menial scut work over just sitting there. If you're useful to the team, they'll like you way better, and you might as well be useful because work's gotta get done. I know you're paying to be there, but still. Might as well help patient care move forward.
-Be absurdly nice to nurses
-Take care of yourself
-For the shelf: read up on what you see. And do UWorld.

Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions: my netid is msamel2. Good luck!

-Monica