Monday, December 3, 2007

Board Exams

In order to apply for a medical license in the U.S. you have to pass all three parts (Steps) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). I took Step 1 last year, a grueling, all-day testathon that Wikipedia describes as "arguably the hardest and most important examination a medical student will take during his/her career." And that's sayin' something. Made it through that one okay, and now Step 2 is coming up fast. Next week I take the written part of the test (another day-long gruel-a-thon), followed in a few weeks by a full day (in Houston, perhaps) of being observed on video camera examining a string of standardized patients.

So, as you can imagine, my days lately consist of reading Board exam review books, punctuated by sessions of doing practice exam questions, after which I go back and study some more. The big thrill for me is that I just got a new review book. (Sad, no?) Most review books consist of hundreds of pages of outlines, but I'm loving this one because it includes practical, real-world advice. For example, after an introduction to the etiologies of shock the author tells us "Your job is to figure out why the patient is in shock while keeping him or her alive. Give fluids while you're thinking." Sound advice.

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