By Walter Wiggins
The debate over resident duty-hours has been active in the news recently, with articles emerging that suggest residents are unhappy with the new duty-hour restrictions and that the new duty-hour rules neither provide relief from resident fatigue or increased patient safety1 – the stated primary goals of duty-hour reform.
Another study suggested that resident concerns about making significant medical errors have actually increased since the implementation of the new duty hours2. These startling revelations have prompted a new discussion about the real issue with resident workload3, 4.
The issue, it seems, is that there just aren’t enough residents to cover all of the work and that increases restrictions on duty-hours only exacerbates the disparity. However, mixed opinions exist as to how this problem will be best corrected5.
Are MCAT scores predictive of USMLE performance? This question strikes the minds of many medical students, particularly when trying to set performance goals for Step 1. I wondered the same thing when I was preparing for Step 1, and I was a little concerned because I hadn’t done as well on the MCAT as I felt I could have. In college, I majored in mathematics and took the bare minimum science requirements to apply to medical school plus a little extra chemistry. On top of that, I didn’t take MCAT prep as seriously as I should have. The result was a score that was successful by most standards (and, obviously, got me into med school), but I knew when I started preparing for Step 1, that I wanted to do better.
To 1st years, now is a great time to pick up a copy of the 2013 edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 if you haven’t already (it’s on sale right now at Amazon.com!). The best piece of advice I have for you is to really learn the material the first time around. First Aid is the ultimate guide to high-yield concepts covered in each subject area of Step 1. With it, you can easily identify those concepts during the first 2 years that merit special attention, so that you’re truly reviewing the material when it comes time for your dedicated study period…and not relearning it.
To 2nd years, when it comes time for your dedicated study period, First Aid can help you identify high-yield concepts for each subject on which to focus your efforts. Already have a copy? Make sure it’s the 2013 edition. The last thing you want is to put a ton of effort into studying out-of-date material.
Here are some resources that you may need to help you prepare for the Step 1 exam:
USMLE website: http://www.usmle.org/
NBME Application Service for Step 1 & 2: https://apps.nbme.org/ciw2/prod/jsp/login.jsp
First Aid for USMLE Step 1 (2013 edition) on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/First-Aid-USMLE-Step-2013/dp/0071802320
By Walter Wiggins
Everyone should have a study schedule when preparing for any of the USMLE Step exams, particularly Step 1. No matter how soon or how long before you take the actual exam, you should take some time to organize your thoughts about how you want to proceed with studying. In general, you should plan to dedicate some amount of time to each of the subjects tested on the exam. However, there are a few things that are helpful to consider when generating a schedule.
The USMLE Step 1 is unlike any test you’ve taken before. Therefore, it’s important to know how it works before you walk in the door of the testing center on test day. In this post, I’ll go over the format of the test and how it is scored.
Recently, Luke Murray wrote the first post in his series “Med School Done Right,” which is all about maximizing your experience in medical school based on your broader goals and aspirations. One of the key tenets to his approach to med school is determining what you want to get out of each individual experience in your training and why that will help you achieve your broader goals. When it comes time to start thinking about your approach to preparing for the USMLE Step 1 (or COMLEX Level 1), I recommend you consider these two questions:
- What do you want to get out of Step 1?
- Why will that help you achieve your broader goals?