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Old 02-12-2014
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Listening Need advice. Working while preparing for Step 1 and 2CK

Hi, i'm an IMG from Indonesia. Currently, i am working in Intenational Hospital in Bali, i've graduated in October 2012. So, it's one year already. My daily activities are working, either, from 8 AM to 8 PM or 8 PM to 8 AM shift, for 4 days a week. It's been my dream taking USMLE since my 3rd Grade of Medical School. But, i found it's so hard to do the focus study because i need to cope with my daily activties. Now, i need your suggestions how to make a schedule for learning and working? I'm unyet married. My plan is this last year. My study resources right now are Kaplan Video Lect 1 and 2CK, Kaplan Lectures Note Step 1 and 2 CK, First Aid Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS, First aid Organ System Based, First Aid General principle and Goljan Audio. Any suggestion? My biggest obstacle is having a good pace in reading the material. Because, i often feel like it's just passing through my head. Sigh. . .

And i think, i also want to start my step journey diaries all over again. Please pray for me. I need to get the USMLE because i want to be a Competent Doctor and want to see my patient in whole lot different pictures than what i am right now. Then, i can get my residencies. Bismillah.

"The joy of learning and giving for being a real answer" AuliaMD
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Old 02-14-2014
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I can definitely empathize with your situation. I was in a similar place when I went through some of my Steps. Working full time as a doctor and studying for USMLE is definitely a challenge!

I think the thing to do is to just go ahead and put together a schedule and timeline based on your exam date. Just be okay with when you get a bit behind, or when you're just too tired to study on some days. I found that some days I was exhausted from patient care (rotating through ICU, ER, psych etc). When I was too tired to study, I just tried to read about the cases I saw at work and tried look at FA to consolidate some part of my knowledge (eg. if a patient had increased ICP in the ICU then thinking about the mechanism of that). I also tried to set time every day to do a certain number of questions from a Q bank (I used UWORLD).

If you're trying to study and a lot of information is just "passing through" your head, maybe you can think about how you've been studying and what you've been using. If you're bored and not concentrating using certain material, then maybe you should think about doing things differently or using different material. If the concepts are too hard, then I would think about slowing down on those parts so that you understand it. At times I found it good to tie my studying to the question bank I was using. For example, if I focused on microbiology for a while, then I would do microbiology questions on the q-bank, and so forth. Active learning is the key!

Also don't forget to take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, exercise, spend time (when you can) with friends, family, faith community, etc.

Finally, I found it helpful to keep a journal during my prep. I don't think this forum has that feature, but PREP4USMLE forum has a journal feature, where you can journal your progress and outline your study plan. It helps you to be accountable and think through what you are doing. Also, fellow Step-takers will post on your journal and give you great encouragement and motivation. I really found this to be helpful.

Good luck!
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Old 03-10-2014
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Cool Thank you

@stepstoresidency : thank you a lot for your suggestion. Also, I've already registered for the neighborhood forum. Hehehe, Love the quotes of active learning is the key. Hopefully, i could fulfilled those words and keep my pace or even faster my pace as I grew with the time of the preparations. Pray for me, and wish you all the best too.
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Old 03-10-2014
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Dear silakan_isi,

I think that stepstoresidency has already given some fantastic advice, so I won't reduplicate what has been said.

My own two cents would be that given how little time you have to prepare during any given day, the efficiency with which you use those hours will be critical. To that end whatever you study, you should do so as actively as possible.

Every single person I've worked with who's prepared for Step 1/2CK has found it very difficult to simply read material in First Aid/Kaplan or watching any videos. The reasons are myriad, but the biggest issue is that passive learning has a very poor track record for aiding in retention. What has helped me the most has been to test myself early and often. Generally, I prefer to do QBank questions first, then to read about the answers later while I reference First Aid or other resources, since then I read with purpose, and I will retain the information much better. If I just read First Aid alone, I find it very difficult to retain the information, and often cannot apply it.

Finally, I will put in a plug for Anki - it is a program based on spaced repetition, where you create questions/answers for yourself. The program will show you the questions intelligently - basically forcing you to review them at the time you are most likely to forget it.

I'm sure it's not easy to prepare for the Step exams while you're already so busy, but I admire your perseverance and attitude. Best of luck with your studies!

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