Part Tres…

How many parts is this thing going to have? I don’t know. I’m writing it to take up time. Operation “Excitingly Busy.”

I might be doing too good at this operation because I woke up feeling like a cold was coming on.

Anyways, where we left off, I was a Bobst library shut-in for most of college.

The atrium of Bobst.

The atrium of Bobst.

As I said, my sophomore year my main focus was school, school, and school. Getting an A was my drug. And I needed more.

I quit tennis for the semester because I felt I couldn’t do it all and that it was “getting in the way” of me being a library loser.

Somehow, by the time I got to my junior year, I grew up a little bit and realized that my priorities, while somewhat in order, needed a bit of flexibility. I bit off probably more than I should have been able to chew, but did even better than before. I was playing tennis, in school (full disclosure, as a junior I did reduce hours to 15 or 16 hrs), studying for the MCAT, TA’ing organic chemistry, and babysitting here or there. To be honest, I did carry some sort of study materials with me everywhere (even lectures on my iPod) so even “down time” or “walking places” could be useful.


The biggest thing I probably realized that year was that my academic and athletic pursuits went hand in hand. If I excelled in one, I excelled in the other. I needed both – they were like my yin and my yang or maybe we could say that had a sort of symbiotic relationship like the mitochondria and eukaryotic cell.

Look at those cristae...

Look at those cristae…


I applied to NYU School of Medicine as a junior for their early decision program and found out I got in the July before my senior year of college. So, I did a lot of leisure reading and crossword puzzles as a senior. 🙂

The first and second years of medical school are sort of anti-climatic. You are basically a glorified graduate student as most of your time is spent going to lectures and studying and not doing much that resembles “a doctor.”

This is more what you're doing 1st and 2nd year. Studying your brains out so you can become a mermaid to save Ginny...or take a test. It's similar.

This is more what you’re doing 1st and 2nd year. Studying your brains out so you can become a mermaid to save Ginny…or take a test. It’s similar.

Those years are somewhat like drinking from a fire hydrant. You are inundated with material. Tests could cover as much as 40 lectures at a time. You retain as much as you can and hope for the best. Or, at least that’s how I felt about it.

Med school is sort of humbling. In college, as long as I studied enough, I could do just fine. In med school, everyone is smart and studying a lot may mean you get an 80 and not a 100. That becomes sort of a hard pill to swallow for people who are told they are “exceptional,” “bright,” etc in college. And, then you take so many tests that you just get over it and want to graduate.



I would say 2nd year is when I started to realize that I wanted to stop putting my life on hold for school. I was very used to saying “no, I can’t do that, I have to study.” And, at some point, I realized I was always going to have to study and a few times here or there it was probably worth losing a few points on an exam to do something cool. For example, I ran my first marathon three days before the 2nd year Renal/GI exam, which covered 40 lectures. Not my best score, but I think well worth it.

The worst part of the first two years of medical school is the USMLE Step 1.

This was the ultimate peak of my studying stamina, which was driven by a heavy dose of fear of failure.

Your Step 1 score is important for residency. It serves as that benchmark that everyone is compared by.

I studied at home for 6 weeks for Step 1. I had my mom change my twitter and FB passwords so I couldn’t access them (and I didn’t, for 6 weeks). I turned my cell phone off turning the day. I got up at 7 am. I started studying at 7:30 or 8 am. I took lunch for 15 min around 11:30. I took another break for 15 min around 3 pm. I stopped at 6. I would go run, eat dinner, check email, and usually pass out by 10 pm. My goal was to study 10 hours a day. I was a med student monk, but, it paid off.

For my homies with IBD...

For my homies with IBD…

I really liked myself a all of the colors they make them in...

I really liked myself a highlighter…in all of the colors they make them in…same goes for ballpoint pens


Third year of medical school is much more fun, but exhausting. You spend the year in the hospital doing clinical rotations in the major specialities. A lot of time is spent figuring out what to do to be useful (and then figuring out med students aren’t that useful) and who to please to get a good grade. You have to be on your A game all the time, studying outside of the hospital for the shelf exams given at the end of each rotation, and making sure you’re not screwing up anything.

People typically like hearing about 3rd year so I’ll do dedicated a post to that. Anything in particular you want to hear about it?



I’ll answer all your burning questions (including people who have already asked on why I chose ob/gyn and if I ever questioned going into medicine). And, nope, it is, unfortunately, not like Grey’s Anatomy. And, yes, I have dissected a cadaver. [Common questions!]


14 thoughts on “Part Tres…

  1. I’m sure I could bombard you with a million questions but I will just limit to a few.
    Best studying advice?
    Best USLME Step 1 preparation book?
    I’m sure it varies from school to school, but do you think it is important to buy all of the required textbooks and read them?

    • Studying advice: don’t reinvent the wheel and don’t change your study strategy just because you’re worried someone is studying more/better than you; if you’re doing well, then if it aint broke don’t fix it; if not, then do look to see what people who are doing well are doing; main thing is repetition – I tried to go over each lecture 3x (all of our exam questions came from lectures)

      USMLE Step 1: First Aid + Goljan lectures + USMLE World Qbank = all you need

      No. Textbooks help supplement and give foundations. It is important to read some, depending on the course and ask 2nd years what they’d recommend. Sometimes, if time permitted, reading before lecture gave you a good foundation to better understand lecture. Often, there isn’t enough time. For some things, I never used a book and for others I did (anatomy, physiology, lilly for cardio pathophys) and for others I never did.

      Good luck!

  2. After I graduated from college (also in NY), I did three paid internships while I continued to job hunt in a field that was full of more layoffs than openings. The pay was never great, but I was lucky to be working a full-time schedule (M-F, 40 hours a week), so I didn’t have to get something else on the side. I did try to make some extra money whenever I could, whether it was through babysitting or testing hairspray for L’Oreal for an extra $50. I finally got a real (read, with benefits) full-time job offer a year and two months later after graduation as an editorial assistant for a medical research publishing company.

  3. After I graduated college, I became a waitress…then went back to nursing school. Then waitressed until I could find a nursing job because the nursing shortage isn’t real!!

    Grey’s Anatomy…ha. It’s hardly like NY Med, and I work there! Silly TV.

  4. You are hardcore! I have never studied for anything that hard in my life.

    I got a job out of college that was a pretty good job, but it had nothing to do with what I went to school for. My husband (then boyfriend) were both unhappy, so we saved up money for 2 years and then moved to NYC to pursue jobs in the film/TV industry. I am still currently working at the first job I got after I moved here.

  5. love reading these! And oh my, I knew step 1 was hard, but that studying schedule is insane! after college I worked at Starbucks until I got a random job in PR… and ended up doing that for 7 years. Go figure!

    Haha, Grey’s Anatomy. I still watch it (mostly because Dr. Avery is hot), but so not like the real thing.

  6. I can’t believe you studied for 10 hours a day for 6 weeks. Wow. You have got to be the most driven person I have ever met in my life. Wish I would have met you in college. I seriously could have taken pointers from you!

    After I graduated I spent almost an entire year (9 months) looking for a job. It was not fun.

  7. Your dedication to studying is insanely impressive. I didn’t realize how intense step 1 is but I am in complete awe of that schedule. I definitely don’t have the attention span for that.

    I got hired by the ad agency I was interning at during my senior year and until I got laid off in January I worked there.

    Looking forward to hearing about why you chose ob/gyn. Also can’t wait to hear where you got matched!!!!

  8. After I graduated from college I did research for an academic year in Finland on a Fulbright and then had an internship in Monaco that summer. It was amazing and one of the best opportunities of my life but I think I was a little too enthusiastic to move to NYC and start working like all my college friends were. Ironically by the time I moved here a lot of them were burned out on their jobs or laid off and moving away.

    I cannot believe you were able to study for that many hours a day. I would have gone crazy. If that is what everyone in med school is like it was probably a good decision not to go for me! I want to know where you are going to be next year!!

  9. I worked abroad for a couple years, then went back to a masters, then decided to go crazy and apply for PhD programs in semi-related fields. I’m coming out of the depths of lurking because I am enjoying your blog and am loving these recaps! During my first year of PhD’ing (aka, this past year), I boyfriended a 4th year med student. As a result, I’ve learned far too much about the match process and can’t wait for tomorrow at 1pm. Good luck to you in your matching!!!

  10. I am really curious about the ob/gyn choice! I was a hardcore studier for my first year of law school because it’s after your first year that you interview with firms so basically first year grades are all that matter. It was the most studying I’ve ever done, but it was worth it! Thankfully, the following two years are much more chill (if you let them be).

  11. i would also love to hear more about your ob/gyn choice – what about ob/gyn, what you might want to do, how you think it does and doesn’t fit your personality – i’m interested in it, too, and love to hear how it fits with other people’s view of themselves and their lives! and, congrats on match day yesterday!!

  12. love reading these-right out of school i went to work for enterprise rent a car. It sucked and I cried A LOT. like, almost every day. and i worked there for 2 years bc my dad said I needed to stay in my first job for 2 years. I quit almost to the day. I also took the job because I was being “cut off” when I graduated. first offer, first job. thank goodness life has only gone up from a career standpoint. 😉

Don't be shy, leave a reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s