Great Expectations


By Sasmit Sarangi

As residents, we are expected to meet and exceed the requirements of our patients, colleagues, and supervisors. After the completion of the Match, and after the euphoria settles down, we are ultimately left with weight of our own expectations.

There is a mixture of excitement about managing patients independently (almost!) and the trepidation of being stuck in an unfamiliar clinical situation with no help in sight. The long and arduous process of becoming an independent physician is well and truly in full swing. Managing these expectations well is a challenge as they will definitely help you stay motivated throughout residency, but at the same time you don’t want them to be your own personal albatross as well.


Identifying a Research Mentor


Jocelyn Compton

In a previous post called Getting The Most Out of Your Research Experience, we presented a few points of advice on how to optimize research. We think that research is a great way to enhance your academic profile and improve your effectiveness as a resident and practicing physician. Once you’ve figured out the kind of research you are interested in (see previous post), and have narrowed down your options to a few mentors, these few pieces of advice may be helpful to you in making the final decision!


Getting the Most Out of Your Research Experience


By Jocelyn Compton

Getting the Most Out of Your Research ExperienceMore and more, research productivity is becoming a cornerstone of the medical student experience. Dedicated research can shape your future in profound ways. Since this time of year presents deadlines for summer research (such as the NIH T35 research grant) or yearlong opportunities (such as HHMI Medical Scholars) it’s timely to discuss the topic of optimizing your research experience!

1. Know thyself.
This is important in all things, but there are several questions that you should consider asking yourself before approaching a mentor. For example:

Where do you wish to go in your career? Academia, private practice, or business and consulting each lend themselves to a different type of research. This also applies to which specialties you are considering. There are a variety of ways to publish your work, such as case reports, original research, or opinion articles. Each type of publication will carry different value when you’re applying to residencies. Of course, publication in a well-known journal within a field or in a popular journal like Nature will always grab attention.


Step 1 Battle Plan: Test Taking Strategies


By Molly Lewis

“No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower


You can find many different Step 1 test taking strategies online, but here’s what worked for me. Pick and choose the parts you like, mix in your own favorites, ask advice from people you trust, and, voila: your own Step 1 plan of attack!


Happy New Year!


The First Aid Team and USMLE-Rx wish you a safe an happy new year!

Happy New Year 2014

“‘Twas the Shift Before Christmas”: A Holiday Ode to Med Students


Happy HolidaysBy the First Aid Team
‘Twas the shift before Christmas, when all through the wards
Not a creature was stirring, they were studying for boards;
The stethoscopes were hung by the front desk with care,
In hopes that the First Aid Team soon would be there;

The med students were waiting all snug in their scrubs,
As they took a few minutes to inhale some bad grub;
And doctor in her ‘kerchief, and I in my mask,
Had just settled in for a long surgical task,

When out in the parking lot there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the OR to see what was the matter.
Away to the pit I flew like a flash,
And ran into a big guy with a skid and a crash.

His eyes — how they twinkled! He breathed a deep sigh!
His face was so red, his BP clearly too high!
Still, behind him soon did appear,
An ambulance-sized sleigh loaded with Step study gear.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to the ED,
And asked the head nurse to refill his ARB,
Then, laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the elevator he rose;

He strode through the wards, passing out Qmax and Flash Facts galore,
While gunners ran beside, shouting wishes for perfect Step exam scores.
The rest of us gaped and grinned as we grasped,
A free, three-month subscription to Step 1 Ultimate and Express.

This guy was laughing and happy, a right jolly old elf,
And I knew when I saw him, I’d pass my next shelf;
With First Aid for the USMLE books, I’d have knowledge in my head,
And with such great study guides, I had nothing to dread;

He passed out his last batch of study tools, and sprang to his sleigh
Turned on the siren and fired up the bay;
I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs: What to Ask


By Fady Akladios

“Do you smoke, Mrs. Z?” I asked my patient. She was recently diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.

“No,” she replied without hesitation. Her answer sounded very unlikely though.

“Well, have you ever smoked?”

“I quit after they saw the cancer in my lung.”


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