Wow, I’ve been slacking about blogging this semester/year. Third year is a busy year on a lot of levels. Depending on your individual clinic schedule, you may be in clinic 2-3 days of the week and still taking an entire course load as well. Then in the spring it gets even busier as you’re still in clinic, taking classes, and also focusing on studying for Part 1 of the national board examinations that happen in March.
Preparing for boards is certainly a stressful time. Part 1 literally covers all the material you have learned through the first 2.5 years of school and so studying for it can really feel like a daunting task. I felt that Ohio State had really prepared me well to go into taking boards but with so much material on one single test, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to focus on. Like many of my classmates, I signed up for a prep course that I felt was very helpful. The course may not have taught me anything really new because again, Ohio State pretty much covers everything, but I did feel like the class really helped organize me. It also helped to group and cluster things we had learned together so things became easier to remember and recall for the test. Even so, it was a stressful time trying to balance everything. Spending so much time studying for about 2.5 months gets to after a certain point, as evidenced by the photo to the left.
So after all the studying, taking the test test is pretty intimidating too. Although it changed to a one day, computerized test for my class, it’s a long day. The test itself is given in two 4-hour sections, each with 185 questions to get through. By the end of it you’re pretty brain dead and pretty much just want it over with. To add some level of insult to injury, we had to wait until May 5th to get our scores. Although the wait for scores was long, it’s nice to have Part 1 over with. Next up: Part 3 in November and Part 2 in December. (And yes that’s out of order but correct. Part 3 you can take anytime during 4th year and it works best for me to take in November. Part 2 is only offered in December.)
Once boards was over, I regained free time I didn’t know existed but it didn’t last long. The end of the semester was fast approaching and far quicker than any of us wanted, we had more midterms and then our last round of finals ever. I’m not sure it entirely hit me this was the last set of finals I’d ever take. Three quarters of my life so far has been spent in a school setting and to think that my formal education has basically ended for good is a kinda weird feeling. It’s also hard to completely realize that right now since I am at the school everyday for clinic through the summer so I really haven’t left. I’m sure that will change in the fall and certainly when I move to North Carolina for my rotation at the VA.
4th year started a couple weeks ago and so far it’s been going well. It’s definitely a shift seeing patients full time and a little disorienting as we all try to navigate new clinics and stretch our clinical skills. It’s really exciting though too because it many ways we’re now functioning like full doctors. I’ll be the first to admit I still have a lot to learn but seeing patients and helping them is why I got into the field so being able to do that every day has been really rewarding so far. And knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching in less than 1 year is doesn’t hurt either.
After our last finals ever were over, some classmates and I got in a couple cars and went to Nashville for the weekend. It was a good way to celebrate being done with formal classes forever and get away. After all the hard work we did this past spring both for class and studying for boards, it was a well deserved mini-break.
I hope to provide more frequent updates of 4th year throughout the year as I will generally have more free time.