Monday, February 17, 2014

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Wow. It’s been forever and a half since I’ve posted. Then again, I’ve been studying night and day for the past few months, so it’s not all that surprising. To give you an idea of what it's like to be a medical student studying for boards, here’s my schedule over the past few weeks:

For about seven weeks starting in mid-December, I studied from 8 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday. I’m guessing that’s about average. I know some of my classmates studied more (although I’m not sure how that’s humanly possible) and some studied less (I’m entirely sure how that’s humanly possible). Those were some long days, let me tell you. At the end of every day, I could seriously empathize with this message carved into the desk where I studdied:

So why did I study so much you ask? Well, the exam lasts eight hours and covers all the material from the first two years of medical school (aka everything). It’s also the most important component on a residency application, so people take it seriously. My main resources included review books, flash cards, online lectures, practice questions, and practice exams.

Here are some pixelated iPhone pictures to give you an idea of what I spent eleven hours a day staring at. The quality of the pictures isn’t the best, but then again, neither was my quality of life, so it’s kind of fitting.

  • Flash cards, flash cards, and more flash cards:

  •  Online lecture after online lecture after online lecture:

  • Pictures that looked just as confusing to me as they do to you:

  • A million and one mnemonics:

  • Memorization tricks that I sometimes didn't think were worth it:

  • And a gazillion (give or take) practice questions that were way beyond my mental capacity (red=incorrect, green=correct, and the [percents]=% of U.S. medical students that chose that answer):

In addition to all of the studying, a death in the family, my brother's wedding, an inconvenient bout of gastritis, and nearly missing my exam (see my Facebook post for more information) helped to really push me to my limit. All in all, I'm going to compare the whole experience to a three year-old choking down vegetables. I didn't enjoy it one bit, but it was probably good for me. The end.

Ok. So. Deep breath. Glad to have that in my rear view mirror. After finishing my exam, I had two entire, wonderful, beautiful weeks of vacation. Audrey and I went to my family's house and then to the Outer Banks for a quick trip, before finishing up with a fancy Valentine's dinner.

  • While we were at home we played some ping pong. I plead the fifth as to who lost to who's little brother:

  • Cleaned out my room per my mother's request (after playing with all of my Cub Scout Olympics participation trophies, obviously):

  • Audrey and I inadvertently went to the sing-along version of "Frozen" at the local movie theater. Good thing I have a beautiful singing voice, otherwise Audrey might've been embarrassed by my singing. Oh wait....

  • We found this sign:

  • Then we swung over to the Outer Banks. We almost got frostbite, but it was still a TON of fun.

  • And then we made it back to Charlottesville in time to weather Snow-pocalypse 2014:

  • And make Valentine's dinner... Main course credit: me. Decorations/dessert credit: Audrey. Yea, we fancy.

 Well, I think that about does it. Life is great right now! A little part of me wishes this vacation would never end. Most of me, though, is eager to start rotations. This is why I came to med school in the first place. Next stop: pediatrics rotation.

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