It seems like yesterday that I was writing about the beginning of the school year, and how Step 1 still seemed far away. Now, like it or not, my classmates and I are starting to feel the time tick away, as we start the process of registering for and scheduling our exam. We are also planning our schedule for third year, choosing the order of our required clerkships, and signing up for orientation sessions.
There have been a lot of strategic discussions about how best to arrange all the upcoming events. Is it better to study at home or at school? Should studying take four weeks or six weeks? What rotation should be first, or last? Our advisors have said that most of these things really don’t matter that much, but right now these decisions feel very significant.
Currently, I’m planning on studying for Step 1 at home. I think that it will be easier to focus there, where I can devote my energy to studying rather than laundry or cooking or other chores. I’m hoping to be ready to take the exam after four weeks of studying. I know that I am likely to feel burned out after studying for even four weeks, so extending my study time to six weeks seems unwise. As the time gets closer, though, I may begin to feel differently!
As for planning my third year schedule, I’ve submitted my preferences, and now we’ll see how the lottery turns out. Albany Medical College has a lottery system designed to have the maximum number of students get their first choice of rotation order. I chose my top picks based on the timing of the vacation (two weeks in August, hopefully) and the timing of the pediatrics clerkship. Although I’ve been thinking more and more about pathology as a specialty, I still think that pediatrics may be an option as well, so I want to make sure that I give it a fair chance. This means that I shouldn’t do pediatrics first or last. First would be less than ideal because I wouldn’t have had time to learn the ropes and might not get stellar recommendations. Last would be a poor choice because it would be getting close to applying for residency, and it is good to be fairly decided on your specialty choice by then, rather than just figuring it out. This is the common wisdom that I’ve heard from classmates and from advisors, and I’m trying to follow it.
In the next few weeks, all of these uncertainties will become clear. I will register for my exam and find out my track assignment, and soon the schedule for this summer will start to be nailed down. Planning for the future is exciting, and I can’t wait to see all my plans take shape.