Saturday, 20 October 2012

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USMLE Basics. What you need to know to prep yourself for the UMSLE Steps.

There's loads of information you should know about the titanic endeavor you're about to engage. Where to start when there's so much information? You start here.

What does USMLE mean?

United States Medical Licencing Exam.

It's a series of multiple choice examinations divided in three subsequent steps. Step 1. Step 2 CK. Step 2 CS and Step 3. Sounds easy. Three steps and you're done! Nope. Sorry, it's not that easy.

I'm sorry to some of us who embark on the journey to conquer the USMLE will fail during the attempt. Why? Because it's hard and it takes time, dedication, and patience.

Some of us don't have one of the above-mentioned traits. Don't worry, it means nothing. It means that you're probably best set off doing something else or becoming a multi-billionaire entrepeneur or whatever. Maybe you'd rather return home and be with your family. Whatever the reason, people drop out constantly and leave their efforts behind, resting in peace within a cave. 

Anyway, back to the basics.

The scores are given to you in two ways: A 3 digit score and a 2 Digit score.

By far the 3 Digit score is used more often than the 2 Digit score. The 3 Digit score is more palpable than the 2 Digit score. If you say you scored a 220 versus a 250, you'd know that 250 means it's way better than 220. The scoring system of the USMLE is quite secretive, so we know little about it. 

The exams are composed of only multiple choice questions. 

Multiple choice questions is the way to go with the USMLE. You'd think it's easier because the answer is already given to in the list of possible choices. Oh... you're so wrong.

What if all the choices are good answers but there is ONE best answers?
What if they ask you what is the most likely answer, given the circumstance?
What if they give you 15 different options to choose from?
What if every answer seems to be the correct one?
What if you only have a minute per question!?

Oh, it's difficult. Do not assume that multiple choice questions means easy, because this is not the case.

The way I see it, the exam is built to mimic real life.


Easy. In life you never have just one option. You have an assorted array of possibilities. Life is about choosing the best of the possibilities offered. Let me give you an example of how this works in real life.

You have dated Mini, Daisy, Jasmine, Cinderella and Pocahontas. You are the prince of some empire and you have to choose one of the above-mentioned ladies. Which one would you choose? You break it down.

"Mini has a great personality but her nose isn't that charming. Besides, she's a mouse and I'm not into cross pollination. Daisy is a duck and Donald is my friend, so no. Jasmine dated Aladdin--an idiot--but she's really hot. I think Jasmine is the one. But wait, Cinderella is amazing and her personality is just so compatible with mine. But she doesn't have Jasmine's eyes. Damn. Pocahontas is very hot and she has the most wonderful smile. Damn! Who should I choose!?"

You see. Your every day choices are similar to the exam.

Now imagine that you are at a Hospital and you are moonlighting some friend at the Emergency Unit. A patient just came in and he's having a seizure. Ok doctor. What's the next step? Should you impregnate him with hydralazine? Should you vaccinate him for rabies  Should you call the attending? Should you call security and ask them to kindly tell the patient to stop moving? Should you tell the family that he's gonna die? Should you put the patient a mask with O2 and start an infusion of phenytoin? WHAT DOCTOR? WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Scary, huh? The exam is no different. The patient has 1 minute for you to think your stuff through and come up with a plan. Boom! Or he's dead. In the exam, you have 1 minute per question. If you can't answer a question, how the hell do you think you're going to save a patient's life?

Ok. So you know the basics. Get ready and start planning on how you'll achieve your goals.