Monday, September 27, 2010

COMLEX is over

So I took my COMLEX CK on Friday. I started the exam at 9am and I finished at 5:30pm including all of the breaks. In the end I took my time, unlike the COMSAE and never finished before time was up. I always reviewed some of the questions that I worried about but unless there was a very good reason I refrained from changing my answer.  I will not know the results of any exam for 4-8 weeks. In the meantime, there is nothing else I can do but to relax for the next few days until I start my next rotation this coming Thursday. 

I also need to prepare for my upcoming interviews. I found out who I am interviewing for 2 of them, now I need to find out who I am interviewing for the last. Then research them and prepare my questions. I also have to go out and buy a new suit for these interviews. 

With only 7 months to go before graduation, I am so glad that this part of my life is coming to a close. Where I can finally practice medicine and my family can finally be financially stable. I was talking with father who is working his tail off,  as he always has. Hopefully my parents will move down to Cherry Hill soon so that we (my family, my brother's family, and my parents) can all be together more easily. My father has always wanted more for us and I am glad that he is happy. He has worked very hard and he sees his hard work paying for in both my brother and I. 

This weekend was also very nice because I fulfilled a couple of promises to my girls. My 4 year old, Rebecca has been asking and asking for me to play Candyland with her. And because I was studying it wrenched my heart out to tell her No. But, as promised, Saturday we played 3 games of Candyland. And she was in heaven. This is what I try to tell other parents who want to go to medical school. That at times you are going to have to say no to your kids but then you need to fulfill promises and do it with you entire heart. When I prepared the games, it was with my 3 eldest girls. I prepared a snack tray, got them milk and we played. They had a lot of fun beating me all 3 times. And that is worth it. Yesterday, I promised my wife to take a day trip and we did. We went to Ocean City NJ. It was a really nice place, and there was a bonus for me: The Corvette Show!!!!!!! At least 50 corvettes of all ages were on display. And while we did not play mini gold, we did go to the little amusement park there and I rode a couple of rides with my girls. In the end, it was a very lovely day. One of the best times was being able to take Aviva, my 9 year old on the bumper cars and all I did was step on the pedal. She did all of the driving. While I wanted to take Rebecca, I could not because she was too small. So I took her on the Carousel instead and we talked about the bunny she was riding and where she was going on that bunny and what the name of the bunny was. Michelle went on a "free fall" type of ride and while she was scared on the ride, she was excited enough to go again. I wish my had a camera to take pictures. I guess I will go on e-bay. 

 Again, Quality time over Quantity of time. that is what you need to remember while you are in school and you have small kids. They will not remember that you spent 6 days with them but that entire time all you were doing was watching television or folding clothes. But if you spend an afternoon with them playing a board game while you take a break from studying, THAT they will remember forever and THAT is what they will want to do with you. My 6 year old is already picking out the next board game. I will pick up another board game and we can go it again. 

It will be nice to be able to give them more as I move on in my career. It will take time, but we will be there. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The day after and 1 more to go

So here I am, status post taking the COMLEX PE (physical exam). It was just like what I did at school and I am glad that I was able to practice with my friend for a couple of weeks. I was able to get just about everything I wanted to do in the given time. But there were a couple of notes that I could have written had I had more time. But there is nothing I can do now. So I am 50% done with my COMLEX II. Now the big one is coming on Friday.

I have been studying my head off. Doing >2000 questions. Hopefully it will yield at least a decent passing score. I need to remember a couple of things that I learned after taking on the COMSAE or the self assessment exam: #1. Take my time. There is no need to rush. I should adjust my speed to maximize my time and use all the time given to me. And this is very big. It will give me a chance to think and to you ensure that my answer makes the most sense. Of course there will be questions with conditions that I have never heard of, but those I will just try and move on. #2. I reviewed and prepared. The material is in my head, I just need to access it.

It will be nice to not have to study all of the time now. I mean of course I need to keep up with my reading for my rotations but at least COMLEX will be behind me and hopefully done with. That will leave me more time to spend with the family. We are hoping to have a nice family outing on Sunday and I promised Rebecca that I will play Candyland with her, and I will.

One of the hardest parts of going to medical school right now is not having enough time to spend with my girls. But they also know what I am doing this for and that it is almost done. Sure it would have been easier to do this right after college but I was young, Idid not do well during my first year of college and more importantly, there is NOTHING I can do about it. I cannot travel through time and fix it. It is done and that is that.

I am keeping my eyes on the prize which is match and then graduation. After that, I have some plans but I want to first think about the immediate future.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Test Day!!!!!

I am taking my first of 2 boards this afternoon. Today is the CS or clinical skills portion of the boards where I will be seeing standardized patients from 2:30pm-9:30pm.

then on friday is the CK, clinical knowledge or written portion. I have been studying my brains out and my practice session (1/2 of a real exam) was not stellar at all. It was a pass, but it is with a very small margin and I am totally freaking out. There are 6 areas that need work. And started working on them right away.

I just need to remember to calm down, calm down, calm down. I should take all of the time alloted to me as there is no extra points for finishing fast.

I guess I am very frightened that I will fail the exam and all of the hard work that I put in during these last 4 years will be in vain and I will be in a ton of debt. Last night I was hard pressed to get a good night's sleep. Nerves from both exams were not allowing my brain to get some rest.

I have done everything I could to prepare and I have to have faith in myself that I will succeed. Just like the MCAT, I cannot let this exam psych me out. It is a stepping stone to my career. I have the key, which is the knowledge in my head and now I need to open the door.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, September 20, 2010


So at this time tomorrow I will be at the National NBOME clinical skills site taking my PE exam. Meaning that 1/2 of my exams will be over. I have been practicing with my friend for the last month and tonight I will practice a few more with my brother before calling it an evening and relaxing my brain and getting into the zone for tomorrow.

I have had many patient encounters before tomorrow. Not just in my rotations but my school had provided me with a great foundation for what I am about to experience. But still, an exam is an exam. Especially one that your future hangs on.

In less than a week, in fact in 4 days I will be taking the CK portion, the written portion. To date, I have done 1725 practice questions and my averages are around the range I want them to be. Part of the secret may just be to have the confidence in myself that I will pass the exam and that there will be questions on there that I will never know the answer. I am not sure if they are going to throw out those questions or they are designed to separate the men from the boys, so to speak. However, the hardest part of this whole month of studying was not the studying, but rather was to tell my girls "no" when they wanted to play.

Of course, one can say "I will have time to study later, but my children will never be this age again." And while that is true, you need to ask yourself "If I were working a 9-5 job, they would not even be asking me to play because I would be at work right now". Which is why I am a proponent of the quality time versus quantity of time. This weekend, I will certainly rest my brain before getting ready for my Emergency Medicine rotation that starts on Monday. In addition, I need to start preparing for my residency interviews that are coming up.

Hopefully once my board scores come in, I will get more interviews as program directors see that I have passed.

After the boards, the nerve wracking over where I will match will begin and once that comes and goes, then the fun will begin and relaxation can really start. Until of course indentured servitude of internship year starts. But hey, I will be doing what I have always wanted to do and that is be a doctor.

Friday, September 17, 2010

1 Week to Go

So I am here, 1 week before the written COMLEX and 4 days before the Physical Assessment Exam. I have been hitting the books hard. And I mean doing anywhere from 150-250 questions per day and focusing on my weak points.

I have also been successful in maintaining my promise to myself of not changing answers once I select them. Now I am moving on to ensuring that I think the question more thoroughly. So what does this mean? Well, this means that I do not answer the question until I have thought about the patient in the question and see whether or not the data that is supplied in the question makes sense. For example, if the question is going to ask about a diagnosis in a patient with chest pain and trouble breathing, but the pain is in a 23 year old girl who is on birth control pills, I want to make sure that she is not having a pulmonary embolism. So my question would be if she smokes. Well, if the question tells me that she does not smoke, it still does not rule out the potential for the problem. But if the question tells me that she recently had a viral infection, well now I am more than likely going to find out if she has any fluid around the heart rather than look for a blood clot in her lungs. But I still want to.

I have also found that I have gotten more out of reading the explanations rather than just reading the book. Which is why I plan on doing more and more questions until the last possible minutes. Which will be Thursday, mid day. I have also been going to bed early so that I can be well rested. I would also like to give props to my best friend, Ian, who introduced me to a set of musical sounds that has helped with my concentration and retention of information.

However, I still cannot wait for the exams to be over so that I can go back to some semblance of a normal life, get back to seeing patients, and hopefully get good score so that I can get more residency interviews in my first choice rather than my backup.

8 months and 8 days to go. But who is counting......

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A couple of weeks to go

I cannot believe that there are only 2.5 weeks to go before I take my boards. I have been studying like a mad man and yet it never feels like it is enough. I know that I have the knowledge and the studying is helping me stir the brain and get the material out. However, I seem to have 1 issue that no amount of studying can help with.......

I have to STOP changing my answers!!!!!! For the love of G-D, my first instinct has been correct more often than not, yet I seem to second guess myself because I over think things when I review the questions. I even wrote a note on my note book: STOP CHANGING YOUR ANSWERS!!!!!!

Any way. That will happen from now on. I have been reviewing my practice tests and have been ensuring that I answer the questions correctly for the right reasons. I am sure that I will do fine. In the meantime, I have scheduled 3 residency interviews for October and I hope that once I get my board scores back and they are acceptable that I will receive more. I am limited by geography because we have planted roots in the South Jersey area and do not want to move. So I applied to programs that are about an hour away.

We are entering my favorite time of year. The Fall and the 'ber months (September, October, you get it) and I cannot wait for the weather to get cool and we can sleep with the windows open (I do anyway, except in the summer) and can smell the leaves on the ground and the nights come sooner. Then one of my favorite holidays will be upon us; Thanksgiving. This year it will be at my parents' house which is great because frankly, my wife and I are beat. From having my schedule and a new baby we are spent. And then for the first time in probably 2 years we are actually going to be home for Chanukah.

Things are progressing nicely. Although it would have been much much easier had I done it right the first time. Funny thing. In my last rotation, one of the Attending Doctors and I were in the same Dorm during freshman year in college. She on the 4th floor and I on the 2nd floor. So if I did things right the first time, then I would have been an Attending by now. However, I believe that things happen for a reason. I am sure that I have said it before but I will say it again. I was so unfocused when I was in college that had I been accepted to medical school I may have well failed and then I would be without recourse to be a doctor. Now that I am older, I am more focused, probably because I not only have matured but I have worked hard to get here and have even more to loose if I do fail. Funny thing is that many patients think that I am 26 years old. The last thing they believe is that I am 36, a husband, and father of 4.

This week was back to school for my kids. Even little Amy is going to the babysitter. Here is a picture of them on the first day.