Saturday, July 31, 2010

Medical School 101

I know I talk a lot about our rotations and what's going on in our lives but I'm not sure I've ever given details of this journey called medical school. I want to document every step along the way of this crazy journey. I'm not sure I could forget this LONG, CRAZY, STRESS-FILLED journey, but just in case. So here we go....
Right after Jason graduated from undergrad he took the MCAT(Medical College Admissions Test), actually we took the MCAT. But after a year of waiting for us to get accepted into the same college and many tears on my end, I decided that God's plan was not for us both to be doctor's.
Jason reapplied and we found a program that we knew was a perfect fit for our family, or at least we were hoping. Jason attended his basic sciences in 2007 for 2 years (some schools are 2 1/2)--tests and finals were inevitable and weren't that much fun! It was basically like college on a major dose of steroids. The program he went to, The American University of the Caribbean, was on the island of St. Maarten and wasn't the traditional schedule for classes. They went year round, which is why he got done half a year earlier than most other schools. He did so well throughout his basic sciences and when it came time to leave the island, we were excited and ready for the next chapter.
After we left the island, Jason studied for his STEP 1. The STEP 1 is a US certified exam that has to be passed, regardless of what medical school, so clinical sciences can begin. Jason went into a crazy, full-time study session for a few months and then took his STEP 1 in June 2009. We waited for weeks until we got the news that he passed and there were a few affiliated hospitals that had openings. We packed up and moved to California in September 2009 so he could begin clinical sciences.
Clinical sciences or "clinicals" are where each medical student has a few core rotations that must get done (OB, Pediatrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry) and then they have a few weeks to do their elective rotations (rotations that they are interested in). After each core rotation, he had to take an exam to show he was retaining the information and he was ready to move on to the next rotations. Clinical sciences lasts for 2 years and before he can graduate and be titled MD, he has to take STEP 2. STEP 2 is another US certified exam that ALL medical students have to take. The STEP 2 has two sections: CS is an exam that tests the students on their interviewing and diagnosing skills and CK is an exam that tests them on their clinical knowledge. Both exams have to be taken and passed to qualify for residency and to graduate. Jason took his CS in June and we are still waiting on his results and he's scheduled to take his CK in September.
While he's going to his clinical rotations and studying for his CK exam, he's also starting the application for residency. Residency is when a student chooses the type of doctor he/she wants to be as a career. It would be nice if Jason could say, "I want to be a cardiologist" and poof he finds a hospital that will sign him on, train him to be a cardiologist and pay him the big bucks. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen like that! Residency programs base acceptance into their hospitals on STEP 1 scores, STEP 2 scores, clinical evaluations and letters of recommendation. The more difficult programs require better STEP 1 and STEP 2 scores...it's just the way it works! Jason has decided that he would like to apply to be an anesthesiologist. He's been researching hospitals that are island friendly, meaning that accept non-state schools into their residency program and the average STEP scores of their residents. He definitely has a few hospitals that seem promising. Right now, the whole process is a little overwhelming and scary.
In November 2010, he'll start the interviewing process for residency. He'll be flying all over the country to different states and interviewing for a position on their anesthesia teams, along with a few other areas. Interviews will run from November to January. After he's done all his interviews, he'll have to rank the hospitals that he interviewed and the hospitals will in turn, rank him. It's a weird process but in March 2011 we'll find out where he matched and what specialty area he matched in. Only one option is given....take it or leave it!
In May 2011, we'll return back to the island for graduation! He'll officially be a doctor! That will definitely be a great week! I can't wait to scream up head off when they cheer his name and he can walk proudly across that stage. Another chapter of our lives will be ending and we'll be tackling another chapter....residency!

1 comment:

Hannah said...

My husband is in his last year of radiology residency....it is a crazy journey!!! Hahaha. We just went through the process of him applying and interviewing for a neuroradiology fellowship. It is a hard journey but he loves it so much and it is so rewarding, as a wife, to see him do what he loves. I'm just along for the ride hahaha :)