Anonymous said: I just interviewed at a med school that has its students take Step 1 after 3rd year. I know at most schools, students take Step 1 after 2nd year. What are your thoughts on the pros/cons of when to take Step 1?
I have NEVER heard of a school doing that… are you sure it wasn’t Step 2?? As far as I know, all the schools I am familiar with have their students take step 1 at the end of second year because you basically have to prove competency before you start working with patients.
I think that I was glad to have step 1 behind me when I started on the wards. I think that if I had to wait until after third year I would have forgotten a lot of little details and would have been more focused on the clinical aspects. This also pushes step 1 REALLY close to when you take step 2 and I think I would have been way too exhausted to do Step 1 and Step 2 that close to one another.
No me gusta.
I think that you need to prove you have some foundation before start third year because otherwise you will have NO time to learn a bunch of the stuff you missed in the first two years.
My school has an accelerated 18 month preclinical curriculum, then we hit the wards for a year (end of December of MS2), and once we’re done with clerkship (Dec of MS3) we study for/take Step 1… so that’s in the winter of MS3.
Apparently, the Step 1 scores at my school have only gone up since they switched to the 18 mon preclinical curriculum, probably because many students learn better when actually practicing medicine, rather than reading about it in books.
I don’t think Step 1 does a whole lot to prove a student’s competency for working with patients. All it really proves is your competency as a test-taker. Step 1 scores serve as one way to sort through the many qualified residency applicants—much like the MCAT did for med school—so it’s definitely important, and excellent motivation for learning a lot of discrete facts that might (or not) be helpful to have in your memory during clinical practice. But I think I’ll value the scores and feedback I get from my clerkships more than my Step 1, in terms of judging my competency and improving my abilities as a physician.
And during clerkship, at least at my school, I’ll still be very much a student—good supervision, plenty of conferences and lectures, some shadowing, and individual attention from residents and attendings who can tailor their teaching to my needs (and the patient’s needs!).
I’m a huge fan of the 18 month preclinical approach, and the fact that we take Step 1 after clerkship year (which is actually in the middle of MS3, not the end). It’s definitely challenging to learn so much material so quickly, and I’ve never been so aware of my learning disabilities, but it’s doable. I regard classroom learning as a necessary evil, so the sooner I can get through it and on to the real experiential learning, the better.
If you’re great in the classroom and like to take more time to study concepts in depth with textbooks and lectures, you’ll probably prefer the more traditional 2 year preclinical experience. If you’re more like me (don’t excel in the classroom), you might consider applying to schools with 1.5 preclinical years—seems like more and more schools are switching to that model.
Good luck to everyone on applications! Hang in there folks—it’s stressful and harrowing, but it’ll be worth it.