MEDICAL SCHOOL TIME-LINE

Hey there!

Many have asked what the typical medical school timeline looks like, and I wanted to do my utmost best  to provide some insight on this. In every country, the route to becoming a doctor varies and since I’m familiar with the US system the best, I will be discussing that below. If you’re from another country, and your system is different please feel free to share in the comments below!

In the United States and the well established  Caribbean medical schools,  you are required to have completed your pre-medical requirements with a bachelor’s degree and an MCAT score to apply for med school. Just like how your  pre-medical coursework was targeted to prepare you for the MCAT, the same goes with your coursework in medical school and board exams.

Medical school is 4 years,  two of those years are dedicated to basic sciences and the other 2 are dedicated to clinical rotations. In your 4th year of medical school, you prepare to apply for the Match, which, if qualified, places you in a hospital for a real job. This is when you finally start getting paid, after 8 years of higher education! Here’s the breakdown:

Years 1-2

  • Basic Sciences, in classroom learning
  • Subjects
    • Anatomy
    • Molecular biology
    • Cellular biology
    • Genetics
    • Histology
    • Embryology
    • Biochemistry
    • Immunology
    • Physiology
    • Microbiology
    • Pharmacology
    • Pathology
    • Biostatistics
    • Behavioral Sciences
  • Towards the end of your 2nd year, you will begin preparation for the USMLE Step 1, which is an accumulation of all the knowledge you have attained in your first 2 years of medical school (subjects listed above)

Year 3

  • Clinical Rotations
  • Once you have passed your USMLE Step 1, you are permitted to enter the hospitals and begin your clinical training.
  • Each school is different, but every school integrates the CORE rotations into your schedule
  • The CORE rotations have shelf exams at the end of each one. You are required to pass these exams to illustrate you have gained the necessary knowledge.
  • CORE Rotations
    • Family Medicine
    • Internal Medicine
    • Psychiatry
    • Surgery
    • Pediatrics
    • OB/GYN
    • *** Rotations beyond these vary b/w schools ***
  • Towards the end of your 3rd year, it is a good idea to Take the STEP 2 CK and STEP 2 CS, for it’s beneficial to have these scores in before ERAS opens (the Match application)
    • Step 2 CK tests your clinical knowledge, it will be another multiple choice exam taken at a testing center
    • Step 2 CS tests your clinical skills, and this will be taken at various locations around the US (depending on the test date you choose). This is NOT a multiple choice exam, instead, you will have 12 patient encounters in a 8 hour time span (with breaks of course). You will be examined on your interaction with the patient, the diagnosis, and of course, the patient notes.

Year 4

  • Apply for residency (ERAS)
    • Opens September 15, you want to submit your application as close to this date as possible!
    • You are able to work on your application earlier, but can’t submit until Sept. 15!
  • Residency interviews
  • ELECTIVE ROTATIONS
    • take advantage of getting your foot in the door at hospitals you’d like to work in, for if they see your face and positive work ethic you’re more likely to match!
  • Upon graduation, you finally will have a Medical Degree and can be titled Dr.

MATCH DAY

  • This occurs on the 3rd Friday in March of every year, it’s the most exciting day for medical students because they find out where they will continue their medical education!

Residency 

  • A DOCTOR’S FIRST JOB!
  • A resident is still being trained by attending’s in the specific field, but you finally get paid for the work you do- AKA start paying those students loans!
  • USMLE Step 3
    • usually taken after your 1st year of residency
    • The test spans the length of 2 days
    • It’s 500 questions testing everything you know about medicine
    • FINAL USMLE exam!
  • After the completion of USMLE STEP 3, you are on the road to finally being able to practice medicine without supervision (after completing your residency and passing your state licensing exams).

 

Medicine is long, hard journey filled with examination every STEP (haha) of the way. That is why it’s important to enter this field for the right reasons. If you’re thinking about medicine because you’ll be making money, sorry my friend, with the amount of schooling required- med school doesn’t really pay off as much! I hope this helps to provide some perspective on the road of becoming a Doctor in the United States.

 

Happy Studying,

Preety 🙂

Why the Caribbean?

Hey Guys!

As many of you know, I am now a first year medical student and will be starting my first day September 6! I have been hesitant to talk about my medical school journey, where I’m going to school, and defending my decisions. I seem that it’s so easy for others to judge me incorrectly by looking at my decisions, rather than the story behind them.

It occurred to me this summer that there are few people that earn a seat in medical school the non-traditional route voicing their story on a social media platform. I found myself, at times, saddened and often deterred from my goals because others achieved something I worked so hard to get and didn’t.  The past year has been filled with ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. Thoughts constantly eating me inside “what will I do in my life”, “I don’t see myself doing any other profession”, or “Am I built for this career”.  A girl who was once so optimistic, goal- orientated, and professionally driven entered the storm of self-doubt. I’ve had 4 months off school, spent time with the people I love, and helped others grow out of their shell. In the past 4 months I found myself, that optimistic girl that’s out to change the world. I realized that I may not be the only individual in the world that has felt that way, so I decided to write this blog today as inspiration to someone that feels that they are stuck. Here is my story:

Becoming a physician has been a life-long dream, not because my parents forced it onto me, but for the lives I can change. As a child, one visit to the doctor’s office would make my fever or cold go away in a few days, it was magical! Obviously, growing older you learn that magic is called antibiotics- haha! I wanted to be that magician in a white coat that makes all pain and suffering go away with a smile and lollipop. In middle school and high school, I was your typical pre-med wannabe. Loaded up on AP courses, volunteered at health clinics, interned at family practices, national honors society, and competitive Bhangra performer (Punjabi folk dance)- perfect was never enough. In college, joining organizations, keeping up grades, having a social life, continuing dance, creating organizations, traveling abroad, researching and acing the MCAT all became a priority. Now, a practical individual would be like “impossible”, and it was. Making everything a priority made my performance horrible in every aspect. I decided to do a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Biology, if I could back I would change that- but that’s a different story. My resume was very strong but in the midst of making that my grades slipped and my MCAT score wasn’t competitive enough.

I took the MCAT a total of 3 times, the second being my best. I approached senior year of college knowing that my grades made getting accepted into medical school difficult, but not impossible. Therefore, I applied to a post-bac program associated with a medical school. My MCAT was on par, the extracurricular’s above par, but my GPA subpar, and I just had to meet the minimum GPA requirement for the post-bac program to be admitted into their medical school- I could easily do that, or so I thought.

To my surprise, the coursework in the program was actually first-year medical school courses, along with clinical based exam questions under a time limit. Expecting a program to help me transition into medical school, I fell into a trap of being in medical school but not actually a medical student. I barely passed my first course during the first semester, but I grew and learned how to study for medical courses and ACED that final exam to bring my grades up. The second semester was much easier for me because I knew how I learned best, that’s something I failed to understand the first semester- What works for others might not work for me.  For 8 months, all I did was study all day, every day, during every second, and it wasn’t enough. After receiving scores from the second-semester cumulative final, I learned I was 1 exam question, just 1 point, away from achieving the minimum GPA to enter the program. 1 point determined my future for me, 1 point.

I returned home depressed; sat on the couch all day watching Netflix, didn’t talk to anyone, and had a difficult time sleeping through the night. I kept thinking to myself what do I do now? Should I apply this cycle and wait a year to see if I’m accepted? Should I pick a new career where I wouldn’t be happy but could move on with life? Should I broaden my scope and try for the Caribbean schools with a good reputation in the US?

After a lot of researching, and self-reflection I decided to apply to Caribbean Medical Schools for several reasons, here are a few:

  1. I would get experience practicing medicine outside the US and be exposed to medical cases I probably would never see in the US
  2. I’ll learn about other cultures, as an aspiring family physician, I find it vital
  3. My clinical rotations will be in the US, so only 1.5 years on the island
  4. An MD is an MD at the end of the day

Will my path to residency be difficult compared to US graduates? Yes. Will I be able to fulfill my life goals and become the magician I’ve always wanted to be? Yes. Do I have any regrets so far, not at all. In fact, I feel blessed that I’m able to attend medical school in an environment where I won’t be snowed in all day, or won’t be able to enjoy nature, good food, or a different culture during my breaks. I’m excited about this new journey.  Where am I going you may be wondering? The American University of the Caribbean located in Sint Maarten, and yes I will go plane watching on Maho Beach!!

 

If you feel stranded or lost please, PLEASE, PLEASE, e-mail me. I would love to hear from you,  maybe lend a helping hand, and watch you succeed as well. My journey has taught me to never limit myself, never exclude possible situations, for life may have something else planned for you- so just go with the flow.

 

So there it is, that’s my story. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @foodiewithscrubs

 

Much Love,

Preety

The Girl with Dreams

“ Okay class, what do you remember about Amelia Earhart”?

The students blankly stared at their teacher, so silent you could hear a pin drop.

I was so frustrated, I know the answer, we just talked about her yesterday! The first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, oh how lucky she was!

“ Class, I will ask once more, who was Amelia Earhart”?

I opened my mouth, I will tell sir who Amelia Earhart is, yes I know the answer!

*thuddd*

“Sarina get up, if papa finds you sneakily listening to Tej’s class again, he will lock you in the house all day”

I slowly opened my eyes, my elder sister pushed me off my stool that I was standing on to listen to class.

“Mala di, I know who Amelia Earhart is, even Tej didn’t know, I need to tell Sir. If he knows how smart I am, he will convince papa to let me attend school”.

“ Sarina, mama wants you to clean the house and make food for Tej, let’s go home”

I respectfully called my sister Mala Di, which means sister, but she was never interested in the material I learned at school. During our walk home I told her all about Amelia Earhart, but she was not one bit intrigued, I don’t understand why.

Oh, let me introduce myself, I am Sarina. I am 9 years old and live in a small town in Nepal. It’s really nice in our town, lots of green trees, and you can see the mountains in a distance. I have a small family of 5 people- there is my papa, mama, Mala di who is 12 and Tej, my younger brother, who is 6 years old, and me. Our home is grey, made from cement with a yellow gate separating our home from the street made of stones. We have 3 rooms in our home, Mama and Papa sleep in one room, Tej has his own, and Mala di and I share a room. Mala di is getting married next month, so i’ll finally have my own room! The courtyard which is right by our gate is where guests come to drink tea and talk to papa, and there is small corner which is the outdoor kitchen where mama teaches Mala di and I how to cook different foods, it’s my least favorite place.

My day starts at 6am everyday, I wake up and make tea for Papa and Tej while Mala di makes them breakfast. Mama helps Tej get ready for school while Papa reads the newspaper. Papa and Tej leave at 8:30 to take Tej to school, and Mala di and I clean the house. I know class starts at 9, so when Mama and Mala di are talking marriage stuff, I sneak off to Tej’s school and find my secret stool to stand on and listen to class from the small window on the side, it’s at the perfect location because sir never sees me.

I started attending class with my stool a few years ago when Tej made a deal with me to let me do his class work so he could go play, how foolish he was to chose play over studies. I gladly took the offer, but I found that I needed to attend class in order to understand the homework. The next day, I found a stool outside the neighbor uncle’s gate, found the window which was part of Tej’s class, and have been attending class ever since. One day Papa found out that I had been doing Tej’s school work for him, and he took all the papers and told Mama to raise me like a woman. Since that day Papa watches Tej do his schoolwork everyday, so I don’t even get a chance to try helping.

I never understood why Tej was allowed to go to school and I wasn’t. I was much smarter and much more interested. Tej wanted to play all day, I wanted to learn but Papa always said that it’s too dangerous for a girl to go to school because no boy will marry me. I don’t want to be married, I want to be Amelia Earhart, or that one lady on TV, what’s her name? AH, Michelle Obama or Priyanka Chopra. I want to read books to little kids, listen to heartbeats of older people. I wanted to do something more than cook and clean all day, it’s so boring!

It was not always like this, Mala di got to go to school until she was 7 but everyone in the town told papa that no one would marry her if she was smarter than their sons, so that was the end of school for Mala di. I never got to go to school, sit in one of those wooden desks and wear those bright ribbons in my hair, oh how much fun it would be to tell sir who Amelia Earhart was and be placed in the front desk, it would be the best day of my life.  I want to be a teacher, I want to be called Madame, I’ll never teach them how to cook or clean, but I’ll teach them mathematics, history, science, all those wonderful subjects. Those were my thoughts before sleeping everyday.

One day Papa came home with a bag from the local shop, “Sarina beta, look what I have for you”. I quickly ran to Papa, I could feel Tej was jealous that papa bought me something and not him. I opened the bag and it was a new sari? “ but Papa, I don’t know how to tie a sari. I asked for books”

“ Sarina, books are for boys, this sari will look very good on you. No one will say no to  my beautiful daughter”

“Say no? Papa, what do you mean?”

“Sarina’s Ma, take her inside and have her wear her grandmother’s gold jewelry, the guests will be arriving soon”

I knew what was happening,  this happened with Mala Di too. Papa was arranging my marriage without even asking me. I didn’t want to get married yet. I wanted to go to school, I wanted to be a teacher, I want to be more than ordinary. I don’t want to get married. These thoughts were going in my head as Ma put the black stuff on my eyes,  and bright red lipstick on my lips. I looked so weird, I didn’t want this.

Ma gave me a hug, and I started crying,

“ Mama please, I don’t want to get married. I will stop going to Tej’s school, I will stop learning. I will stop dreaming of being a teacher, please Mama, please tell Papa I don’t want to get married.”

“ Sarina, you aren’t getting married tomorrow. Papa is finding you a nice boy then once that boy is done with school you will be married, this is a nice boy. He went to college, they say he works with computers. Sarina, you will be able to see a computer when you get married! They aren’t asking for much from us either. We don’t have to buy them a car  they just ask that you know how to cook, clean, respect your elders, and they want us to  buy him a gold watch. That is all. You are very fortunate that Papa found you such a nice family, just remember to act shy and respectful.”

I didn’t have much to say because Mama was on Papa’s side, like always. Mama made me cover my face and take tea out for the boy and his family, he looked weird. He was very skinny and tall with a full beard. His mom was very fat with short curly hair, I think the rings were stuck on her fingers because they seemed as she tried to take them off but couldn’t. His dad was short and skinny with glasses larger than his face, his head was bald too.  I learned, that they lived across town, which meant I wouldn’t be able to attend class anymore with my stool, what would I do? How would I go to school now? They have to say no!

* smash*

Oops? Perfect time to drop the cup of tea near his mother, now she will never say yes. She seemed like the boss of the family. I will not get married now, I will continue going to school!

I didn’t get to talk to anyone, Papa asked me to pick up the tea cups and return to Mama. After a few minutes they left with smiles on their faces, this was bad news.

“Sarina’s Ma, our job in finally done. Mala will be married next month, and they accepted Sarina into their family. She will be married off with Mala, we won’t have to double our expenses, one wedding for both our daughters!”

WHAT?! NEXT MONTH!? I DROPPED THE TEA CUP, HOW DID SHE NOT SAY NO?! We are learning about Mother Theresa next month, I can’t be married yet!!!

I am only 9 years old, I know how to cook, clean, and now will be married off to a man whom I don’t know and is much older than me. My new mother will be fat with rings stuck on her finger, and my father will have glasses larger than his face. Who knows, maybe my new husband will bring me books to read, or teach me how to use the computer. Or maybe I can read some of his old books to learn something, maybe getting married wouldn’t be so bad? Papa was handing out sweets to the entire street, this must be a good thing.

I don’t know how to feel because I have never seen Papa so happy and proud of me, this is what Papa wanted. This is how I am to make my parents proud, this was the purpose of my life. As a dutiful daughter, I shall oblige. Maybe in my next life I can go to school, learn about Mother Theresa, and become a teacher. Maybe I’ll know more than just the history of Amelia Earhart.  If a woman could fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean, then in some lifetime I can go to school. Just Maybe.

*** DISCLAIMER: All characters are fictional along with the plot; however, this story is a reality for many girls around the world***

To learn more about Women’s right, to be involved, or spread awareness please visit: http://www.womenforwomen.org/what-we-do