Updated: Oct 17, 2018
Congratulations! You have just finished your first year of medical school! What a grind, huh? The physical and emotional energy that went into the last year is likely greater than that devoted to any previous year of school or really any previous year of anything for that matter. With that in mind, this blog lays the foundation for a realistic, high-yield summer that maximizes your efforts and wastes none of your invaluable time. Without further delay, here are the four ways to spend your M1 summer. First, an important disclaimer though: if you do absolutely nothing this summer, no harm will come with respect to your board score and ability to match into your desired specialty. Your dedicated period is more than sufficient to achieve your target score and you have plenty of time (2.5 years to be precise), after your last summer, to fit in whatever requirements your specialty requires.
As I zeroed in on above, you have just given a herculean effort over the past year. Therefore, first and foremost, you need to recuperate this summer. This will be different for everyone, but certainly definable. I can guarantee there are parts of yourself you have sacrificed, or altogether put on hold, as studies bogged you down. What better time to delve back into those interests, hobbies, or relationships? Personally, I am excited to do more leisure reading (or really any haha), exercising, hanging out with friends and family, and gaming (hit me up on Playstation Plus at Big_B393 if you want to play Fortnite ;) ). Also, as your funds allow, travels may be something you consider.
Before you roll your eyes, hear what I have to say. I am by no means a gunner, instead preaching practicality and efficiency. Going through your class notes from the entire year would flat out be a waste of time. I mean, it would do you no harm, but the benefit would be minimal relative to the hours you would put it. You already spent all that time combing through your notes first year. Instead, now is the time to hone in on your board review material. I have not devised my own boards study plan yet, but literally everyone I have talked to has incorporated UFAP into their regimen. If you are not familiar with this, it stands for UWorld, First Aid, and Pathoma. Also, an additional resource highlighted by everyone was Sketchy Medical.
So, why these materials and not your class notes? The answer is that UFAP (or whatever you decide on) is where your time is going to be devoted during your dedicated step prep. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with these resources will serve incredible dividends. Second, it is better (and more efficient!!!) to start with less details and add them in as necessary. For example, First Aid can be considered the SparkNotes of medical education. It is very minimalist and gives you strictly the relevant information/facts without all of the intense detail. That is what the first two years of medical school are for: insane details spewed about by PhDs. If you come across something you do not understand in one of these resources, then you can dig into your class notes to clarify and expand upon it. Going in the opposite direction will waste time and cause you endless agony.
So, let’s get into my exact plan. I have already started reading the sections of FA that correspond to the courses I’ve taken, but will finish doing that this summer. As I finish reading sections, I add the relevant Anki cards from the famous Bro deck to my rotation. If you are unsure with what the Bro deck is, let me enlighten you. Some kind soul turned FA into an Anki deck. Not just any Anki deck though, a roughly 15,000 card Anki deck. I cannot even imagine how long that took. The reddit community has since curated and improved upon it. You can find the latest edition here: https://www.brosencephalon.com/flashcards/. In addition, the user or how to guide can be found at the site as well. Basically though, you select how many new cards you want per day and then begin tackling them. I have actually created individual decks that correspond to the chapters of FA. You can get a peak of it below. Note, this blog does not describe how to utilize Anki for studying purposes. That will be covered in a subsequent one.
Moving on, the next resource to discuss is Sketchy Medical. If you have not used this yet, I’m sorry for your loss. Similar to the demigod Brocephalon (creator of the Bro deck), another kind soul turned all of sketchy micro, pharm, and path into Anki decks. These are also very, very high quality Anki decks. To emphasize this, they have the relevant screen shots for every card, as well as the entire scene to really drive the point home. You can learn more about the cards here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NR7PRJvRWw. Similar to the Bro deck, as I watch sketchy videos, I will be adding these cards into my rotation. You can see how I have broken these down as well in the screen shot above.
Next up, pathoma. I guess you could technically consider this studying ahead, but I have heard wonderful things about this resource, namely that it is all encompassing. By this, I mean you could just pick it up after your first year and follow along flawlessly. This is unlike FA, where you would be completely lost if you picked it up without any framework. Again, I simply want to familiarize myself with the resource prior to my dedicated study period. Also, it is only 200 some pages, so it is not a huge undertaking.
Last, practice questions. Like any standardized exam you have ever taken, practice questions are truly where you improve your score. I would like to emphasize that I am not shelling out any money for a question bank this early in the game. Instead, M2s get access to the Kaplan question bank through the Medical College of Wisconsin. My goal is to get through all of this before my dedicated studying period, which will be very heavy on the UWorld questions. This may be a bit ambitious, but time will tell. To help bring this goal to fruition, I thought it would be a good use of my time to do the questions for the courses I have taken this summer.
This depends upon the specialty you are pursing, but what better time to begin or continue a research project than the summer? Enough said here.
Make Some Cash
I recognize that this is kindof just a drop in the bucket relative to your student loans, but every little bit makes a difference, especially if you consider interest accruing over years. So, I do not propose that you go out and somehow miraculously make 50k over the summer. My own goal is merely to cover my expenses for the summer, which amounts to about a grand per month. You could be more or less ambitious. Ultimately though, remember my first tenant for the summer: relax! If you feel yourself getting burned out, then dial it back. This summer is about recharging.
The same can be said for anything you do this summer! If you are impinging upon the recharging of your batteries, then reassess. Happy summer!