Saturday, June 6, 2015

USMLE Step 1, done :)

This week came as a bit of a rude awakening, following four weeks of being in vacation mode! On Monday I started my new rotation, family practice, at a community hospital in the northeast part of the city. It's the fifth and final hospital I've my GPS has had to navigate to this year, and by far the farthest from my home. Based on my first three days there I'd say it's worth the drive -- of the half dozen  family practices I've rotated through between medical school and residency, this so far looks to be the friendliest, most organized, and least sketchy one yet.

I took Thursday and Friday off (we get three "flex days" a year as residents), for USMLE Step 1 studying and writing. I envy people who are organized enough to avoid finding themselves learning new things at the eleventh hour. I've unfortunately always been a last-minute crammer. And by last-minute I mean I stalled at an intersection en route to the testing centre yesterday because I was too busy reading First Aid's rapid review to be on the ball when the light changed. Bottom line: I'm not one to give advice when it comes to test prep.

I found the testing centre and after a few more minutes of car cramming headed upstairs, into what is possibly the strictest security check in existence outside of prison. Photo, fingerprints, metal detector, rolling up pant was such a bother to get into and out of the testing room that I resolved to keep my number of breaks to a minimum. There were about ten people writing various exams in the testing room, each at a carrel desk overlooked by a security camera. And they evidently did monitor the cameras, as at one point I took my hair elastic out and an invigilator walked in moments later to confiscate it (how I could cheat from a hair elastic eludes me).

Step 1 consists of seven 44-question 60-minute multiple-choice blocks, with 45 minutes of break time available to be taken as needed. I started my test at 10 am and decided to motor through the first four blocks, before breaking at 2 pm for lunch.
usmle food
I brought so much food "just in case"...and just ended up eating the yogurt/almonds with cereal and a banana mixed in
15 minutes later I headed back in to tackle the final three blocks. Post lunch I could tell that I was fading, having to reread questions because I'd zoned out the first time around. The martial arts class that started up next door during the final bock didn't aid my concentration. It was a marathon to say the least and I couldn't have been happier to click "end block" for the final time and walk out of the testing centre just after 5 pm. What I didn't feel so happy about was the exam itself...I definitely guessed on way too many questions...but hopefully I passed and won't have to repeat the experience (until three weeks from now -- Step 2 CK, yay).

Because the testing centre was beside West Edmonton Mall, I felt obliged to drop in, if not only for a bit of walking after sitting at a computer all day. In the interest of keeping my wardrobe (and expenses) as minimal as possible, I just browsed the clearance racks and only tried on two things -- and bought one. I think I've been pretty good this year at only buying clothing items that really catch my interest (or "spark joy" as Marie Kondo would put it) and that I can wear to work (as, let's be honest, pyjamas are pretty much my uniform the rest of the time).
west edmonton mall ship
requisite lagoon photo at West Edmonton Mall
On the way home from the mall I stopped by Walmart, where I made some questionable decisions
walmart basket
then headed home to sit in bed, eat All The Snacks, and watch the first three episodes of The Bachelorette. A perfectly lazy start to what looks to be a relaxing weekend :)


  1. Congrats on being done!! I felt awful leaving step 1 as well, I think it's just par for the course even if you did ok. :) Good luck on step 2 ck!

    1. Well I'm glad you said that -- it's extra reassuring coming from a smarty pants like you :) Thanks for the well wishes!


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