Thanks to a very nice MS3, we know-nothing MS1/MS2 students received a little advice during a mentoring session in the First Steps Program.
He wants us to know that Step 1 is a bad one, but he did have a few tips. Although he didn’t feel comfortable telling people how they should study, he did mention that it was a good idea to get one of the ‘First Aid’ books and really use that as a resource during our 2nd year classes. When we review the book during our classes it may seem elementary and only cover basic things. The 2nd year classes will seem exponentially more detailed than the ‘First Aid’ review book. These basic things are the concepts used for the Step 1 and will be as easily forgotten as the extreme details learned in class if not reviewed on a regular basis.
The Step 1 is also mostly Pharm and Path based (this student estimates 60% or more). While some basic biochem, microbio, embryology, or et cetera may be a question, it will probably be tied to a disease or drug treatment. This is why some students think it’s a good idea to schedule the Step 1 earlier than June. Some students have taken it right after finals, with the thought that Pharm and Path are fresh in their head and then they’ll have the entire summer off. This option isn’t for most students.
Another piece of advice, get exposed to specialties early (aka: this summer). As a medical student you will not have time to be exposed to a lot of specialties that you may be interested in. If you are thinking about ENT, or radiology, or anything else that isn’t a core rotation during the 3rd year, get out there and do some shadowing. Students pretty much have to have their mind made up by the beginning of the fourth year to start with the match application, interviews, getting LORs and all of the other things that go with applying for residency. So, if you are even remotely interested in a specialty not required in the 3rd year, do some shadowing this summer. This is the only chance you’ll probably get.
Lastly, when you get to those magical clinical years, be aggressive in you’re learning. Get out there and ‘do’ stop ‘shadowing.’ It’s easy in the beginning to be a wallflower and just exist early in the 3rd year. But if you take initiative and get hands on early, you’ll get much more out of your education. Do physical exams, learn to be concise and pertinent when giving patient reports, and use the Bates text-book since it really is a great resource.