How to Survive Medical School: Step 2 CK and CS

Over the past couple of months, I’ve received a flurry of emails and Instagram messages about USMLE 2. These messages have one common question: “how do I study for USMLE 2 CK?” These questions, by my interpretation, are sent by medical students who are a bit more flustered than the medical students who send inquiries about USMLE 1. There are probably a couple of reasons for this. For one, there is insane pressure to receive a higher score on USMLE 2 than USMLE 1. If you crushed USMLE 1, you’re left kind of wondering…how can I reasonably do better? And, understandably, if USMLE 1 did not go the way you wanted…the pressure to do extremely well on USMLE 2 is high.

The awesome thing about USMLE 2 is that you’ve been studying for this exam since you started your clerkship year. The manner in which you prepared for your shelf examinations is honestly the way you should prepare for USMLE 2. I won’t address in this post how I approached each particular subjective given that there are three posts that address my approach to OB/GYN, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Neurology.

You figured out the kinks of studying for standardized examinations when you studied for USMLE 1. Aspects that I addressed in my USMLE 1 post such as registration, study schedules, and etc. aren’t worth revisiting in this post. Give yourself some credit. You already know how many hours you can study a day, how many days off per week you need to feel like a normal human, and what examination snacks are gonna carry you through test day. I say all of this to reassure you: you are going to be great. I say all of this because I am still extremely aware of how panicked I was before USMLE 2 and I was legitimately more stressed for USMLE 2 CK than USMLE 1.

Why? Well, I think people downplay USMLE 2. I asked quite a few people the year above me for their advice for Step 2. The advice I received was minimal: “you don’t need more than two weeks or so. It’s easy.” You guys are going to do well on this exam, I have faith in you, but it is by no means easy. Like all standardized examinations, USMLE 2 CK can be tricky. There are questions that are you almost guaranteed to look at…skip…come back to…look at…shed tears…say a prayer…make an educated guess. That’s fine and honestly to be expected.

In this blog post, I’ll share my approach to receiving a 250+ score on USMLE 2 CK and share a little bit about how I prepared for USMLE 2 CS.

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Pediatrics: Funded Away Rotations

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I won’t lie to you: I’m not the most spontaneous. When it comes to academics and life-planning, I’m (to be frank) not spontaneous at all. This may not come as a surprise to those of you who have read my series on “How to Survive Medical School.” This time last year, a flurry of emails from then-MS4s-now-PGY1s launched a series of conversations amongst my classmates: “should we go on away/audition rotations?” For some of you pursuing fields such as orthopedics and urology, the question is not “should I?” but rather “how many?” For others, it really depends. The argument is raised that: if you go on an away rotation and perform poorly, you ruin your chance of matching to that program. I think that point is fair but I also think that if you go on an away rotation and you’re motivated and excited, it’s hard to leave a terrible impression.

Sure, there’s the “fish out of water” effect that is to be expected. Sure, you’ll get lost a time or two. Sure, the MS3s may perform better than you at the start. Sure, you’ll be frustrated because you’re nervous and feel like you’re not performing at your best in a new environment. You’ll acclimate. You’ll progress. They’ll notice. It’ll work out.

In the case that it truly is a terrible away rotation experience in regard to fit or workload – there’s a chance that it might not have been the right place for you as a resident. So even in that case, you’ve learned a lot about where you want to end up or what sort of programs you’re looking for when you start on the interview trail. Speaking of the interview trail, if you want to follow my journey the best places to do that are Instagram or Twitter. I’ll share a recap of my trail here on the blog after match day (March 2018!).

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How to Survive Medical School: Obstetrics and Gynecology

I concluded my clerkship year in April. How crazy is that? Since that time —

  1. I took Step 2 Clinical Skills at the end of May — I passed guys!
  2. I took Step 2 Clinical Knowledge at the beginning of July (score is still pending)
  3. I completed a 2 week elective in radiology
  4. I completed a 2 week elective in allergy/immunology
  5. I spent a month in the northeast for an away rotation

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This post, admittedly long overdue, has been drafted for months. One of my friends (hi Ronke!) told me that I have to publish this post before she started her OBGYN rotation (aka on Monday) so I clearly didn’t take her too seriously.

As always, please take my advice with a grain of salt. If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.

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How to Survive Medical School: Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Neurology

The third out of eight weeks of OBGYN is coming to a close. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy deliveries (yay to babies) but my mind is on what follows this rotation.  Make sure to follow along with my day-to-day life on Instagram and Twitter. Just a heads up: I have a really neat giveaway planned for next week. I have a feeling you guys are going to love it! 😻

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Okay so before I jump into my recommendations for each rotation, here are some other spots with pretty amazing clerkship advice.

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How to Survive Medical School: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Surgery Clerkships

I cannot believe I am saying this: I just finished my fourth rotation ¡Adios Internal Medicine! Sayonara Family Medicine. Goodbye Surgery. I’ll miss you pediatrics!  MS3 is going by extremely quickly and as hard as this year is – one of my favorite internal medicine residents told me it’s “a year that requires grit”– I’m a bit sad that things are winding down.

Before third year set off, I spent a lot of time reading the advice of medical bloggers and anonymous med-redditers. I found this advice extremely helpful and I just wanted to share how I approached each clerkship.

MS3 is extremely different from MS1 and MS2. There is a delicate balance between preparation for the wards/clinics and preparation for the end-rotation shelf. It’s hard for me to give concrete advice about how to strike that balance. Believe me, it will get easier with time. In this post, I’ll share what resources made internal medicine, family medicine, and surgery survivable.

If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.

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