Thursday, January 10, 2013

Start STEPing

Yep. I'm back. The semester starts again. Over winter break I was an absolute vegetable. A glorious vegetable who had reverted back into a child like state of playing games and eating holiday sweets. I regret nothing. I really was burnt out.

Of course now that I have a couple of days of classes under my belt, I need to get cracking. And more importantly, I need to start rolling out the plan for the step test. Because that's in June.

Yeah. I know. It starts.

For the uninitiated, the STEP exams are our boards. I don't know what the heck it stands for. We get three total, the first two are taken in middle school, and the last one is taken in residency. STEP 1 is the one that people stress about the most by far, because welll... 1.we're at that point in our lives, and 2. the scores you get determine what individual residencies you can apply to. The step is so important, that to get a non competitive score means to discount certain specialties all together. For example, you must score about the 75th percentile or higher to be looking at plastic surgery residency. They're most competitive, so they can afford to be choosy.

The step 1 is taken at the end of second year after all of your basic science courses are out of the way. Then third year you go onto the wards. So before you've experienced what specialties are out there, you already know which ones wont even sniff at you.

So what's a student to do? Well, as long as you don't want to discount anything you haven't tired yet, you study your ass off and shoot for that top 25%. And being med students, it feels like everyone is either a gunner shooting for that top 25%, or a survivalist shooting for the average score of people who shoot for top 25%. Um...if that makes any sense.

So I hatched a plan to a buddy of mine today. We make this into a competition. Not for score. I never set goals for numbers. Weight, scores, money, it's meaningless. You always set goals for the practice and actions it takes to get you to where you want to be. So we're competing in study time.

Here's the rules.

1 block = 25 minutes of study time + 5 minutes of break. If you choose to use your break for more studying, that's you're problem. I chose this number because of the pomodoro technique.

Every block you finish studying materials specifically for the STEP, i.e. not class notes, the other person owes you a dollar.

That's it. If we study consistently and well, then we'll be even and no one owes anything. But given that the hours can add up quickly, it's easy to get caught behind if you slack. After six months, this could easily turn into hundreds of dollars if you left yourself that unprepared. In less than 24 hours, I'm lagging 8 dollars already. oh my.

This could either be one of the worst or best decisions I've ever made in my life. We shall see.