O Tell Me The Truth About Love

May 19, 2007

Seen on the R subway line between Atlantic-Pacific and 7th street.

When it comes, will it come without warning?

Just as I’m picking my nose?

Will it knock on my door in the morning?

Or step in the bus on my toes?

Will it comes like a change in the weather?

Will its greeting be courteous or rough?

Will it alter my life altogether?

Or tell me the truth about love?

I still don’t know what “it” is. Any thoughts?


How to Prepare for the USMLE: How Early Should I Start?

May 9, 2007

I have received a version of the following email half a dozen times in the last few weeks concerning when in the first two years of medical school it is best to begin preparing for the USMLE. Here is one response.

Hello,I wanted to thank you for that information regarding studying for the BEAST!. It is well informed and I loved the reasons behind your study schedule. I am going to start my first term at SGU this coming august. With your experience the past two years is there any advice that you can give me. Does using first aid while studying for exams help to prepare for USMLE. Is it too early to even use it as a reference. Also doing well in the classes help drastically on your performance in the exam. Did you find that having done well made you recall alot of things that you found on the exam or is the details very nitty that it isn’t and needs to be refreshed within the 6 weeks. Wanted to know if it would be a wast of time to use the First aid as a supplement and note margin for my regular classes to be familiar when it comes time too kick but those 6 weeks. Again, thank you for the information.


Hey Knight.As far as advice goes about starting early, I have only this: I couldn’t do it. It takes a certain amount of pressure and dread to study effectively for the USMLE, and that’s not just going to be absent, it’s going to be appropriately focused on your other courses. I’m sure you could annotate the FA during these classes, but you’ll soon find that the breadth and depth of your SGU classes will simply dwarf what’s in the FA. The best advice I could give is to work as hard as you can for as long as you can in your classes. While the game of getting A’s isn’t all there is to your education (and you will feel at times that you are learning stupid things to do it), I can think of no better long-term preparation for the USMLE. Those members of my class that have scored the highest were all very strong students from front to end in Grenada and not for being especially intelligent, but instead for their consistent hard work.

The extra mile here is tutoring. I tutored Anatomy, Biochemistry, Neuro and Physio. In this way, I had a full year’s exposure to each topic instead of the four month term. This was invaluable. What many people found while studying for the USMLE, I discovered in tutoring: it’s only the second time around that all the connections fall into place and the interrelationships become intuitive. I was a much stronger student for it.

In a nutshell: don’t buy a First Aid until it’s time (around 5th term, I’d say), do your absolute best in every class, regardless of how innane the material, and tutor with a friend for every class that you can. That, if done, should fetch you a fantastic score.

All the best, topher.

Back from Vacation

May 8, 2007

Finally, I am back in the States. I brought back with me custom-tailored shirts, shoes, and suits, a tan (no tattoos) and a few stories. It’s going to take me a while to get back in the swing of things, what with the big move to New York just around the corner.

One great thing that happened while I was gone was the posting of a preliminary errata list by the First Aid folks. After looking through the pdf, I’m thrilled to say that we have been thorough: fourty-three of the the fifty official errors were already listed here. Whether or not we were responsible for submitting them first is unclear, but at least we’re catching them. Five of the errors were added from readers of this site (thanks guys).

I’m going to spend the next few days going through what everyone has submitted and then updating each section, as well as the word documents. I don’t anticipate there being another major update before the July 15th deadline.

For those students asking about my transfer status, the schools to which I applied, etc.. I do not plan on addressing those topics until mid-June. Sorry to put it off.  The remainder of this week will include a few stories from Asia and a few miscellaneous thoughts about the USMLE before I put it behind me.

It’s good to be back.

Important Announcement

April 29, 2007

I have many stories from the trip that I cannot wait to write but that will have to wait since they charge me by the minute to use the Vietnamese computers.  Greetings from Vietnam, by the way.

Dr. Le of the First Aid team just sent me an email, and the team now has their own blog for updates.  Still no forum for responding, but I’m sure that will come soon enough.  Thanks everyone for the suggestions and please keep them coming.  I have read them all, but (as described above) I cannot respond to them now.  Look for more come mid-May.


April 10, 2007


I’m in Cambodia right now and I just received my USMLE score after 3 weeks.



See you in 6 weeks!

March 27, 2007

The complete list of all the corrections/suggestions for the First Aid is now available for download as two Word documents in the First Aid section. All of the individual sections are updated as well.

I have cobbled together the best of my advice into a 6-week guide for the Boards. Expand or contract according to your whim.

I’m off to Asia, so I will be slow to respond to comments, suggestions and the like. I will read them all eventually, so please keep them coming. Thank you, everyone, for contributing. Everything here is better for it.

And with that, I am off!


Applications Away!

March 21, 2007

applications.jpgIt’s done. At eight o’clock tonight, I sent out the last FedEx package and now my home is empty of all things “transfer”. A few schools wanted to know what high school I attended. Even after two years of medical school and having taken the boards, they still wanted to know what my undergraduate science GPA was. Will you ever stop haunting me, 3.145 Science GPA?

I’m past the point of handling AIDS kittens for the homeless Inuit clans of Alaska, so I had to scratch real hard for an essay topic.

Would it surprise you that for all the writing that I do, I can’t write a personal statement to save my life? That’s not true. I can’t write a good personal statement to save my life. I’d love to post all of them here so that we could all share a hearty laugh, but I’ve decided that I’m competing with other students and the advice here is too easy to find. I’ll post them all after the last deadline of June 1st. We’ll laugh then.

I was sort of shocked at how much of a pain in the ass it all was. It took three solid days of inefficient work to get every application, every transcript and test score, every recommendation and every check heading in the right directions. One school wanted my reasons for transfer. Another wanted my compassionate and compelling reason for transfer. Another wanted the name of the family member dying of a flesh-eating bacteria that was already attending their medical school whose care would require my transfer so that I could be by her side as we both wrote SOAP notes. But only if I was a resident of the state.

It stretches my imagination none to think of students looking at some of the applications that I just waded through and deciding, “Screw it. Not worth it. I’ll apply somewhere else.” I hope they all do.