Med school can be emotionally draining sometimes. Start a lecture with a neurologist about all kinds of headaches and end up finishing with a story about a terminally ill 19 year old and the doctor getting kind of emotional talking about children with brain cancer he has treated.
Never a dull moment.
I looked at a bunch of other people’s study schedules and went off that.
My study materials were First Aid, UWorld question bank, Pathoma, and Kaplan Step 1 videos.
Here is my advice for making a step 1 study schedule.
1. Give yourself a break after finishing second year (assuming you are in the US). Be it a weekend, or 4 days, or a whole week., you need to give yourself a breather for a minute. Maybe go on a short trip- I went to Chicago for a weekend bachelorette party!
2. Go through First Aid as many times as you can. If you read a chapter a day, then you can do it in about two weeks. I went through First Aid 3 times.
3. Pathoma along with matching First Aid chapters. I only used Pathoma on my last run-through of First Aid, and my UWorld scores skyrocketed. I wish I had also gotten three runs through Pathoma because there were so many Step 1 questions where I could remember the page in the book and hear his voice but not quite get what the question was asking for. Also Dr. Sattar has the most righteous beard on the block.
4. Go through UWorld TWICE. That is so clutch, y’all. There were Step 1 questions basically identical to UWorld. If you go through it twice with time to spare, then go through the ones you’ve gotten wrong. If I could re-do it, I would have done two sets of questions every day from the beginning and bumped it up to three towards the end.
5. After you do your questions, meticulously go through them and annotate the crap out of your First Aid. Nuff said.
6. EXERCISE. I was a total dummy and decided I’d rather sleep in than get up an hour early and go for a run. Then I started running towards the end of my Step 1 prep and felt 1000x better- less crabby, less figidity, able to concentrate better.
7. Personally, I can’t sit for more than an hour at a time before my attention span turns into that of a goldfish. However, some people can. Do what works best for you, but take regular little breaks to get up and move around, make a sandwich, do 10 minutes of yoga, check the mail, load the dishwasher, etc.
8. Take a full day off every week. I did not do this and it was a terrible idea. I gave myself a half day off every week, which never seemed to happen. That full day off is so important for you to do life things- go to the grocery, see your friends or family member, veg out and watch Lord of the Rings, clean your house, you get the idea. Step 1 Studying becomes this vacuum and you’ll start feeling guilty every minute that you aren’t studying. Your brain and body need a break.
9. Be nice to yourself, and those around you. Some days will just suck: your concentration will be off, you’ll have a headache, your house will be filthy, there will be nothing to eat, your UWorld scores will be in the toilet, and you’ll snap at whomever is around you. When a suck spiral happens, try to intercept it before it gets out of control. Do whatever you gotta do to get back on track instead of just trying to push through it, that is not a nice thing to do to yourself or those around you.
10. Have good sleep hygiene! This is also wildly important. I would try to study up until the very last second I needed to go to sleep, and then couldn’t fall asleep for a couple hours, and then was exhausted and crabby in the morning. Bad idea, right? Have a wind down routine, and do the same routine every night so your body will get the hint that it’s sleepytime now. Right now my routine is to listen to this wind down mix on spotify, pack my lunch for the next day, have a cup of sleepytime tea, sit with the Cabbage and either talk or we will both guiltlessly internet, when my tea is gone I wash my face and brush my teeth, and then get into bed. The routine is about an hour all in all, but I’ve really noticed that I sleep better and stay asleep longer through the night.
11. You probably won’t feel ready, but you’ll be happy for it to be over. Don’t try to reschedule your exam last minute unless there’s been a death in the family or some crazy stuff like that. Just take a deep breath, bring lots of little snacks and water, and do it. You’ll be fine.
If I could do Step 1 all over again, THIS is how I would do it
IDK about two sets a day (Uworld)… My study counselor laughed when I said I was doing 24 questions a day… We adjusted it to 10/day with a set every sunday…
Either way, all of this = BRILLIANT
I agree with everything said. Kids…read a bunch of experiences of people who did well and make your own because YOU know YOURSELF and how you learn best. Make your schedule accordingly, study smart and remember, the beast can be slain.
I think it’s way harder to watch your own blood being drawn for a lot of people than seeing it done to someone else. So don’t worry too much if your own blood is hard for you to look at.
But I think we get pretty desensitized to things pretty quickly. You watch enough people throw up and you just stop getting grossed out by it—it’s just part of your job. You can talk about surgeries over dinner. The “disgusting” wound infection is something you tell your friends about.
I imagine that perhaps only cops talk shop about blood the way doctors do. But you get used to it a little bit at a time.
I recently had a venipuncture training session and I’m usually really challenged giving blood (to the point where I have to lay down so I won’t faint) - but I was just fine drawing blood on someone else. Just let your proctors know your issues - no one wants someone to pass out while practicing.