I passed my COMLEX, what a relief. With all the horror stories of students in my class scoring 100-200 points below their last practice test and subsequently failing the real thing I’m glad that I won’t have to take that 9 hour exam ever again.

Next up: USMLE Step 1. I’m not going to lie, at this point I am completely burnt out. I’m working my ass off during rotations so I can get good evaluations, and I’m also studying for my shelf exams. Here at NSU, part of the requirement to receive Pass with Honors for a rotation is to honor the shelf exam. I’m going to point out that the shelf exams are not like the regular exams given during M1-M2 year. They’re nationally administered exams by the NBOME and you’re given a score based on how you did against other third year DO students. If shelf exams and rotation grades weren’t enough to worry about for third year, it’s also recommended that we study for Level 2/Step 2 as we go through our rotation months. So the question is, how the hell am I supposed to study for Step 1, Level 2/Step 2 while trying to also do well on my shelf exams?

I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure it out.

By now many of you are probably wondering why I’m even considering still taking the USMLE Step 1. Why not focus my efforts on my shelf exams and Level 2/Step 2? You’re right, I should. It would make things a lot simpler. A large part of my reasoning why I still want to take it is that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up yet. I don’t want to have my “ah-hah!” moment sometime next year and then think, “Oh crap, if I had taken Step 1 and done well, it would have opened more doors when applying for residency in this specialty”. Of course, the key here is that I do well on Step 1. It won’t mean anything if I take it and get a crappy score. If that were to happen then I would have dug a hole for myself. Not only would time have been wasted on studying for an exam I didn’t do well in, but that time could have been spent getting better shelf scores or preparing more for Level 2/Step 2. In other words, I would have completely screwed myself over. When it comes to taking any of the USMLE exams as a DO student, the thing is that it’s all or nothing- if you take it, you need to do well.

So, yeah, I’m scared.

Am I going to sink or am I going to swim?



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