USMLE and Match experience from Arwa Albashaireh
My USMLE experience was a little bit different from most USMLE takers. A lot was going on in my life and I didn’t want to waste time before I match into residency.
I did USMLE step 1 about one month before my wedding day and I was so stressed out to the fact that I lost around 10 pounds! Losing weight was fantastic and made me look better in wedding pictures, no doubt about that. I was satisfied with my USMLE step 1 result, although I was aiming for a higher score. For the 5 months I spent preparing for USMLE Step 1 exam and planning for my wedding at the same time, I think I did a great job!
Straight after my wedding, I had to study for USMLE step 2CS exam and I took it within 2 weeks of my honey moon. To add more, I sat for USMLE step 2 CK while I was pregnant in my first trimester and I was very close to my due date when I took step 3. Fortunately, it all turned out well and I matched into internal medicine residency at a university program.
Since I’m writing this article for those people out there who would relate to my situation, I must say: try to optimize your study circumstances; aim for eliminating distractions and focus on your study schedule and material. If you have a similar situation to mine and you have no choice, you better keep moving and deal with all your situations without fear. I will tell you, it was very hard, but nothing is impossible. It took me to go through all the steps to get to those conclusions that I have mentioned above.
I did some brain storming trying to reflect on my experience and try to help those who might be in the same situation, whether it is getting married or being pregnant while studying. Here are my advises:
1) Ask for help and learn to accept help! Medical students sometimes are shy to ask for help but listen, never say no to anyone who offers to help you. Small help is always needed even if it was just cooking a meal for you, doing laundry, getting grocery especially if you have a big family while studying! People could have been in your situation and know what you are going through.
2) Make a schedule and stick to it. I found that the best way for going through the material is to set a goal for daily studying. For example; every day you want to finish 20 pages of Kaplan, 1 block of questions and 1 hour for revision. If you stick to a schedule like that and try to fit other daily events into your schedule you’ll be fine and happy.
3) Do not compare yourself to others. Your colleagues who have more flexible schedule and much more free time than you do will probably look like they’re studying more than you. I want to tell you that comparing yourself to others will only keep you stressed out and you would be wasting your time thinking about others. Just try to focus on studying the smart way, use your time wisely and concentrate all the time on your target.
4) Pick your resources well. I didn’t have much time to watch videos and thus I didn’t go that route. I concentrated on First aid and I found that Dr Jamal’s USMLE notes were helpful to memorize important concepts in both Step 1 and 2CK. Dr Jamal’s notes were also helpful for my review in the last hours before the exam as they are brief and concise.
I wish you all the best and luck in your USMLE journey. It is worth all the hard work and efforts you have put through.