Preparing to Climb a Mountain

“If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options. You can climb it and cross to the other side.
You can go around it. You can dig under it. You can fly over it. You can blow it up. You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there. You can turn around and go back the way you came. Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.” 
― Vera NazarianThe Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

As you prepare to face the mountain in your path, keep in mind that every medical school is different in terms of how you are taught and examined BUT in order to be licensed in the United States of America, we ALL have to sit the USMLE board examinations if we plan on obtaining residency positions there.

It is vital to know that preparation for these exams is a marathon and NOT a sprint, so be sure to invest in the necessary resources that appeal to you and do your research on the materials as there are many options.

hus far, I have taken the Step 1 exam and have only just begun my preparation for Step 2 CK and CS, therefore I would only feel comfortable sharing advice for Step 1 preparation. I've broken them into a few sections for easier reading. 


The First Aid for the USMLE STEP 1 book was wonderful for me. I personally annotated it book as we went through different subject matter during the academic year; that way when it was time to really sit down and review for Step 1 the majority of what I needed to know was at my finger tips, in one place. Be mindful that there can be mistakes in these books but they strive to reduce them and if you find one, let the authors know and keep an eye out for when they release the errata for the version of the book you have. It outlines all of the errors that your edition may have and the corrections for them. 


I personally also used Pathoma – it is great for pathology review for Step 1. It was a good supplement to my lectures.


I also used it to supplement my lectures. Lastly, I used Doctors in Training for my final review and I thought it was extremely helpful. 

There are so many options available out there, explore and see what might be a good option for you, and keep in mind what may work for others may not be the best study tools for you.

I hope this advice helps! I know for myself it is easier when looking back on the first two years that I can say be positive when it definitely wasn’t always easy, but you have to keep in mind the end goal. As you move along and the more clinical patient interaction you undertake the more reminders you will have of why you want this and why you are willing to make such a sacrifice.  

Mountain image courtesy of Zach Disner  and Flickr. 

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