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I think that to say it’s been a while would be an understatement at this point. It seems like I fell off the face of the earth, and it actually kind of feels like I did too. Since February, I completed the last 3 blocks of M2 year, studied for and took Step 1, and began M3 orientation. To say it’s been a whirlwind would be putting it lightly.

The last three blocks of the year, Gastrointestinal, Endocrine, and Reproduction, flew by. Hanging over all of them was the notion that Step 1 was on the horizon. At this time, I found it more important than ever to stay focused because I wanted to make sure that I was in a good place once the dedicated study period for Step began. Before I knew what happened, I took my last exam of M2 year and had approximately 6 hours to celebrate before Monday came and study period began (Sunday quizzer life).

Quick ice skating break during the last few weeks of school. In case med school doesn't work out...

Quick ice skating break during the last few weeks of school. In case med school doesn’t work out…

I’m not sure that there are words that can adequately describe study period. There are so many emotions that occur during that 5-6 week period (which doesn’t feel like nearly enough time to relearn/review everything you need to know). I went through moments of elation and moments of complete and utter doubt. There are few times in my life that I’ve felt quite so humbled as when a question set absolutely destroyed my confidence. Yet at other times, the work that I put into studying over the past two years shined through. Studying for Step 1 is a process.

Getting ready for a day of Step studying

Getting ready for a day of Step studying

Before I started studying for step 1, people kept telling me it was a rite of passage. I didn’t understand how a test could be a rite of passage, but now I definitely get it. Step 1 is all about discipline and learning how you learn best. It’s about finding just how much information you can cram into your head without driving yourself crazy in the process. It’s about experiencing every emotion in the human spectrum because it’s impossible to know absolutely everything going into test day. Step is a mind-bending experience. When I walked out of the test center that day, all of the emotions hit again: the confusion, the anxiety, the trepidation, but most of all, the relief that it was over. I won’t know how I performed on the exam for several weeks, and while I’m trying not to think about it until then, I realize that the simple act of taking Step 1 is an accomplishment in itself.

Now that Step 1 is over, a new kind of excitement has taken over: M3 orientation. Orientation began on Monday and will continue for the rest of the week. It’s the last thing that stands between the newly minted M3 class and the wards. I have to say that I’m really excited about what is to come. When I picked up my pager yesterday, things finally started to seem real. I can’t even believe that in a few days, I’ll see my first patient as an M3. I’m nervous and excited, and I just can’t wait.

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time, it’s back to training modules and preparations for the wards!

Angelica is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. When she’s not on the wards, you can find her on a run around Ann Arbor or passionately discussing medicine and public health over tea.