268 hours / 35 days / No Sleep Till Brooklyn

In 35 days, I will take Step 1.

Today I took an NBME diagnostic. My score told me two things: that my goal is attainable  that a lot more work remains for me to do.

With that in mind, I set up a framework for the next five weeks. I plan on studying 8-10 hours per day, every day, with no designated breaks or days off. However, I have 8 days free at the end of the study plan that are more flexible and could be used to acommodate some missed study sessions. I don’t plan on using them unless a dire need arises. Frankly, the last few months have absolutely flown by (particularly the last month), and I am sure that this month will move at a rapid pace. We’ll have a nice week and a half break before orientation for third year (which I still need to plan – right now all I know is that we are ending up in CA on Saturday before we start orientation and flying back on the Sunday Red-Eye …) and that will be what I will look forward to.

Honestly, I am viewing this test as make-or-break for my medical career. Specifically, it will either provide me with a great stepping stone to move out from University Medical School and into other academic medical centers, or else I will need to both do extremely well during the third year (which I will need to do regardless) and I will need to be extremely lucky. Since I’m not 100% sure what I want to do – though I do have some pretty well formed guesses – I would strongly prefer to keep my options open.

How does it feel? How do I feel?

Not as good as you might think, but better than you might fear. I do feel like a huge weight has been lifted and that I have a much greater clarity of purpose. Balanced against that relief are moments of newfound fear and terror, like when I finished my diagnostic and hovered my mouse cursor over the “submit” button for a good fifteen seconds. I stretched that brief window of time into an examination of my last two months of serious study, and then took a deep breath and dove in.

I’m also very fortunate to have someone to study with and live with and go through every moment with, together. It makes the whole thing a lot less isolating than it actually is.

So, onwards. There are going to be rough patches ahead, but I’m confident in our ability to get through them and keep going.

The Plan, by the numbers:

268 Hours / 35 days studying (already spent ~480 hours studying)

14000 flashcards reviewed (Anki)

~2000 questionbank questions reviewed (USMLEWorld, for the second time)

3 read throughs of First Aid, Goljan Path, Goljan Biochem, HY Anatomy, HY Neuroanatomy (~2000 pages combined), Lange Pharm, Lange Micro with additional help from Costanzo Physiology Robbins, Robbins Questionbook and Robbins Atlas (an additional ~4000 pages).

PS. Anki is a flashcard program, available at http://www.ankisrs.net. The label “WORLDx3” refers to 3 blocks of 46 questions from the USMLEWorld questionbank. The label “TOPICS” refers to what may be the most important part of this study plan but is not explained here, namely the extensive documentation of topics for future study and continued re-review. The label “REVIEW” refers to a  2 hour block dedicated to reviewing and understanding the issues of the past week and/or any lingering issues from the previous week(s). This is an ambitious plan.

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