Monday, June 30, 2008

Return of the Blog

Ding dong, the witch is dead. My test is over. That which has hung over my head for the last 2 months, and to some extent the last year, is finally gone. And it feels good.

Now I was actually done over a week ago. What happened to me? Blogging is a funny thing. Writing in general really, since I don’t think this phenomenon is unique to blogging. While I was studying I thought of a dozen things that I’d like to proclaim to the internet. But I was being a diligent, so didn’t type a thing. And once I was done with the exam, I lost the motivation to write anything. It’s the same way with all my writing. I seem to have great ideas for short stories or screenplays or whatnot while I’m busy. But as soon as I actually have free time, writing becomes a chore. High aspirations and low motivation I suppose.

In any case, the test.

Conventional wisdom dictates that you stop studying the day before the exam and relax a bit to get yourself ready. This had been my plan, until 4 o’clock rolled around and I realized that I knew jackcrap about dermatology. So I definitely studied until midnight. Conventional wisdom also dictates that you have a big nice dinner the night before the exam. I combined some sisterly advice with my roommate’s example and got some Cap City Diner to go, ordering the salmon plate. This was a mistake. The salmon was fine, though not excellent, but it just made things weird. Why was I paying extra to eat food I don’t usually eat, just because I’m taking a test the next day? What kind a weird ritual was this? The next morning I ignored the big nice breakfast practice and had my usual cereal. I wanted this day to be normal, so removed anything out of the ordinary.

People have songs they play to get pumped up for exams. Whether it’s the Scorpions, Ludacris, Bon Jovi, whatever. Again, I eschewed this practice. There was no way that I was going to stay pumped through 8 hours of exam. I threw in my current mix of music (which is probably a good 6 months behind the times due to my studying, but I’ll try to fix that this week.) and just tried to relax.

That became difficult as I arrived at the Prometrix building. Turns out, I didn’t have the right registration form with me. I brought my ID, social security card, passport, checkbook in case there were hidden fees, and the wrong registration form. I’m proud to say that I maintained my mellow. They offered to let me use their computer to print off the right form, which could be found in my email. Which email? Oh, the one that I don’t know the address for. It’s my med school account, which is my homepage on my laptop, which I’ve never needed to access without my laptop in hand. I had almost brought my laptop, but earlier that morning couldn’t conceive of a reason I’d need it at the testing center. How wrong I was.

So I had to drive home and get the right form. I made some calls on the way to try to figure out exactly where this mysterious form was. In case I sound a fool, I’d like to remind you that I brought A registration form. Just not the right one. Luckily I wasn’t taking the exam in another town as my roommates had, and only had a 15 minute drive home. So 40 minutes later I was back at the testing center, ready to prove that I’m actually capable of being a doctor.

Eight hours is a long time. It’s a really long time to constantly wrack your brain for obscure information. But luckily I’m pretty good at sitting and looking at a screen. I’ve had a lot of experience with it in my life. I prefer How I Met Your Mother to 350 medical questions, but all in all the experience wasn’t that bad. I admit that I took the easy way out a couple times. I saw that my patient ate sushi and was experiencing paralysis, I clicked on tetrodotoxin. Hopefully the lab values I didn’t read matched up with that diagnosis. There were a couple questions that I didn’t have time to finish, but I’m hoping they were experimental questions (up to 15% of the questions on the exam are questions that USMLE are testing out for future use, so don’t actually contribute to your score.)

How did the exam go? I really have little idea. It felt like I knew about as many as I knew of the practice exams. So I’m guessing I did alright. I’ll know in a couple weeks. Why does it take a month to process a multiple choice exam? Who knows. But I’m pretty good at moving on, so what’s done is done. The exam is over and I am free. Until Step 2.