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My USMLE Step 1 experience

It was late April, 2008. it was a beautiful day outside, I glanced through the window watching the children playing outside on their school playing ground. The air condition in the apartment was not cooling the house well enough due to leaks on my windows. The apartment was built in the 90’s. I was sweating profusely with the fan on.

I have been studying for the USMLE, 12 hour days for the past 4 weeks as I started to feel the burn out already. I was getting tired and wondering what did I get myself into. I have completed 70% of my Qbank and there is still lot of read. I thought about my friends, family and others who are just enjoying the summer weather. Looking at my friends on facebook enjoying life and going on vacation was very depressing. I thought to myself, will this be worth it in the end? It was a difficult time for me personally. But I will watch motivational video on youtube to inspire me. I ll pray to God for strength and will power to carry on. I will call my girlfriend at the time, now my wife who encourage me. Been locked inside my apartment for 8 weeks, only to go to the grocery store for a few minutes or exercise was a test of my endurance and discipline.

Studying for the USMLE taught me one thing: Its a marathon. Just like athletes start off strong while running a 5k, and half way they start to feel the fatigue build up in their muscles. But they continue to push harder and find the extra energy to get to the finish line. Studying for Step 1 or Step 2 was no  different for me. Quitting was not an option. I was already 100, 000 in student loan debt. I thought to myself, this one exam is the different between doing a specialty I love and settling for anything. If I am going to do something, I made up my mind to give it 120%.

I only have one shot at this to do it right the first time. If I fail the test, I can retake it, but I barely pass, its over. I made sure I took the right shot at the right time. As Michael Jordan did against the Cleveland cavaliers. It was his last shot and a game winning one.

micheal jordan

If you are studying for this exam, you can relate to my story. You too can do it. It is hard, let no one fool you. But diamond has to go through a heat to become dazzling. So is the process of becoming a physician.

In the end, I scored a 225/97 on step 1 and 229/99 on Step 2 CK. It was well worth it. Today, I am a board certified emergency medicine physician. See my score report below.

usmle step 1 score report
No matter how frustrated you are with the process. Just stay positive and motivated. You can do it. Many people have come before and many will come long after you are done, this is your moment. Seize it! Go smash the USMLE exam.

Image reference: Micheal Jordan, The shot: http://airjordanshoeshq.com/michael-jordans-biography-and-statistics/