Med School Done Right

Hey 4th Year, What Are You Doing This Summer?

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By Luke Murray

Congratulations! You matched! You now have before you a chunk of free time the likes of which you have probably not seen in years and will probably not see again for many more.

Yes, you’ve had summer vacation in the past, but you’ve always had something hanging over your head – research after first year, Step 1 after second year, Step 2 and residency applications after your third year…but now? Nada.

Sure, you need to move and get some logistics in order, but other than that, there’s no resume-padding activity required, no life-or-death test you need to be studying for – nothing. In order to help you think through your options and maximize the general awesomeness of this experience, I’ve put together three C’s you might want to consider:

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Step 2 CK Advice Part 2 – Scheduling

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By Luke Murray

Click here for part 1 of this series.

Step 2 CK Advice Part 2 - SchedulingStep 2CK, in contrast to Step 1, is really NOT about figuring out ‘how to study,’ or at least, it shouldn’t be. We have hopefully, through trial, error, and feedback, figured out how to study for a Step exam already. What IS different with Step 2CK when compared to Step 1 is the importance of planning. Yes, it’s also extremely important to plan out how you’ll attack Step 1, but most of us have time off to study. Consequently, when our study plans don’t match our study reality there’s enough buffer to still accomplish our goals.

In contrast, when you’re supposed to be studying for Step 2CK, you also have the challenges of residency applications and scheduling and attending interviews. This, coupled with the fact that you have much less time ‘off’ to study and will need to do much of your studying during rotations, means that you’ll sink (and be constantly stressed) if you don’t have your ducks in a row. I know this, because I did exactly zero of the things listed below and wished countless times during my fourth year that I had followed this exact advice. Fourth year was far from a vacation for me. In fact it was just as stressful of a med school year as any other, exactly because I did not do the following.

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Med School Done Right: Study Plans vs. Study Reality

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By Luke Murray

Study Plans vs. Study RealityI learned about the Step 1 exam the very first day of medical school. I was acutely aware of its importance and determined to do as well as I possibly could in order to keep my professional options open, so I planned to start studying for it at the beginning of my second year.

I was going to put an hour or so aside each day to flip through my copy of First Aid for USMLE Step 1 to get a ‘lay of the land’ for the first couple weeks and then spend the rest of the school year going through it over and over.

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Unbind Your Copy of First Aid

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Love your First Aid book, but wish it was easier to use? We asked one of our blog authors, Luke Murray, to do a quick run-through of how to modify your First Aid book by unbinding, then rebinding, his own copy.

Enjoy!

(Thanks, Luke!)

Med School Done Right: Be the “Pilot” of Your Study Experience – Use a Checklist

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By Luke Murray

This post is a short break from the Letter of Recommendation series, and involves a little more study strategy than most of my posts, but I couldn’t help but think of it given the recent incidents with Southwestern and Asiana Airlines.Be the “Pilot” of your study experience - use a checklist

My dad has been an airline pilot for over 25 years and flew fighter jets off of aircraft carriers before then. He’s never once had an accident. Surprisingly, not only has he never had an accident, but neither have 99.99% of pilots, despite the recent news stories. Now, this statistic might be understandable if flying was easy, or if the consequences of an accident weren’t noticeable, or if the environment was consistent. But as anyone who’s sat in a plane landing at an airport during a snowstorm will admit (let alone on a pitching boat at night in the driving rain) flying is neither easy, safe, nor carried out in a predictable environment.

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Med School Done Right: The Letter of Recommendation Series – Who to Ask & How to Ask (Family Medicine)

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letterBy Luke Murray

This post is part of a series called “Med School Done Right,” which will look at not just succeeding in medical school in the narrow terms of “getting good grades,” but at shaping the kind of experiences you want to have during these (usually) four very important years of your life.

I’ve already written about how I got MY letters of recommendation, so now let’s look at what I should have done according to the residency directors that read these letters and choose who gets interviewed, and ultimately, who gets in.

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Med School Done Right: The Letter of Recommendation Series – How I Got My Letters

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letterBy Luke Murray

This post is part of a series called “Med School Done Right,” which will look at not just succeeding in medical school in the narrow terms of “getting good grades,” but at shaping the kind of experiences you want to have during these (usually) four very important years of your life.
Most residencies require three letters of recommendation, allow no more than four, and restrict uploading to ERAS to fewer than five.

When I was collecting letters, I figured I’d rather have more options than fewer, so I went ahead and got five letters of recommendation. These are the people I asked and how I chose them.

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