Month: August 2015

The Tests That Shall Not Be Named

Question:  How do you know if you are a second year medical student?

Answer: If you are terrified at the very mention of Boards.


Being a second year medical student is disconcerting for a couple of reasons.  The first is that professors assume that because you are a second year, you are prepared to be dumped back into school with little warning.  Personally, I could have done with a little coddling–much better than the “40 hrs of school with three quizzes and two labs right off the bat” approach this year began with.

The second reason is that people keep talking to me about Boards.  In case you didn’t know, to be a doctor you have to pass a series of horrific tests known collectively as “Boards.”  You might also know them by the names COMLEX or USMLE, for osteopathic and allopathic schools respectively.  At the end of your second didactic year of medical school, you take Step one of your boards (Step 2 is before fourth year, and Step 3 is before you start a residency).  Your Step 1 board scores play a role in determining what residencies you are able to get.  In a little under a year, I am going to be taking an 8 hour, 400 question test that will determine my future in medicine.

I'm not scared--you are scared!

I’m not scared–you are scared.

In the five weeks since school has started, the administration has spoken to us several times, as well as two separate board prep companies trying to sell us material.  STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT BOARDS.  I get it.  My entire future rests on my performance. Stop trying to freak me out.  The worst part is that everyone agrees that you shouldn’t start studying until about 6 months before you take it–roughly January.

It feels like people keep running up to me telling me to panic about a future event, but stop me when I try to do something about it.  Its like a strange game of “red light, green light” where even if I get a green light, I have to stay put.


But at the same time, as much as I want to study (to get rid of the anxious “your whole future is riding on this” feeling), I am also really lazy/busy with school and don’t want to do any extra studying.  Seriously, med school.  Stop giving me stuff to do.  I hate to say it, but I might be getting just a little bit overwhelmed.


So if you talk to me in the next year and I seem worried about something, you can pretty much guess what it is.  Boards.  Ugh, just typing the word gave me chills.  My new plan is to simply avoid talking about COMLEX or USMLE at all–Hence forth they shall be known as the tests that shall not be named.  Now excuse me while I live the rest of the year in blissful ignorance of the terror to come.