In this blog
- i freakin’ did it! – 480
- humble pie
- future plans
i freakin’ did it!
I guess there’s a story here but there also is much I’d rather not admit to. The number of times it took me to finally pass my Part III board exam is one thing I’d rather not advertise. I wish I could say “third times a charm!” but … it was more like 5 times and possibly 6.
I hone in on my brother who didn’t even attempt Part III until after he graduated because he failed it on his first attempt but passed it on his second attempt. So, if you don’t count all the attempts prior to graduation then, at least, I was able to emulate him.
Age is another matter I don’t really want to own up to so….hypothetically speaking ….it’s like I started this new adventure when I was still 41 years old and, after I get results for my Part IV exam which I’ll be taking in May of 2015 I …could be ,,,49.
Then things become a little surreal. Have I actually spent a decade of my life in this pursuit? 20-25% … and this is all post college. As my brother described it before I started my attempt to become a DC, he said it was “balls to the wall” and, that may even be an understatement.
Humble Pie – sort of fits in with all this since I just finished up a week of reviews in preparation for my May 2015 exam. Within minutes of the first day of reviews you realize you’re eating humble pie – within the first hour, you realize it’s more like a humble buffet that’s being forced down your throat.
The questions are rapid fire, like a machine gun. Is body temperature increased or decreased with Graves disease? Temperature? Don’t we have a lab panel to look at? I never thought of a simple vital sign pointing me in the direction of Graves disease, I think of exophthalmos – eyes bulging out, increased T3, 4, TSH …oh, OK, hyperthyroidism, I guess it would make sense that we’d have an increased temp but, by the time my 10-speed brain figures all that out I’m 3 questions behind and we’re talking about Thalassemia – …I just studied some anemias the other day, maybe I can feel a bit smug as opposed to stupid …not a chance. I’m confusing Coombs (a test for Rh factor with Cooley’s Anemia which is a subset of Thalassemia. Now I’m falling farther behind, feeling stupid, wondering if I even belong there. It’s a trip – that much is certain.
That’s pretty much how the days go, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. save an hour for lunch. We covered 2 years worth of radiology in a day and a half this past weekend. At which point, I’m thinking the words ‘self torture’ and really don’t want to go back for any more.
Mock exams are Monday, the 27th of October – gotta show up for that. These upcoming Part IV exams – one day is all radiology, the other consist of 25 different rooms filled with actors pretending to be patients with certain diseases. We get a whole 5 minutes per room to ask questions and test accordingly after which time we move to another room and have 90 seconds to look over x-rays and lab results then need to come up with a diagnosis, differential dx, and appropriate case management & treatment. I guess it’s not so bad but, this goes on for 3 hours straight.
The DC program is kind of like signing up for a slow death and you just need to graduate before it kills you. And, other than the 20% or so that don’t make it to graduation after 15 semesters a few do die. I remember one guy died from a heart attack one weekend when I was at school because, you know, 8 hours of classes along with clinic during the weekdays is never enough and the stress is very real.
The most self induced stressful times I’ve had this year have been at those reviews. That’s when I’m reminded that we actually have three autonomic nervous systems. Most everyone knows about the good old, fight or flight – that’s the sympathetic nervous system and is sort of like the bodies gas pedal. Somewhat lesser known would be our parasympathetic nervous system which would be like our brakes or some say ‘wine & dine’ or even …poop & relax. Probably the least well known autonomic nervous system would be our enteric nervous system which is made up of two subsets known as Aurebach’s and Meissner’s plexuses. This system basically has to do with our gut. and – without exception that’s where I feel a great deal of stress making itself known but, it also helps me make greater sense of various ailments such as enteropathic arthropathies and remembering to ask patients about various work and social aspects of their life to help gauge levels of stress in their lives.
March of this year was my first post graduation attempt at Part III and I failed it worse than any other time I attempted the exam with a very dismal score of 340. A score of 375 is needed to pass Part III. I did learn that we needed to have everything from Part II down cold and wholly memorized as a prerequisite for getting through Part III so I scheduled review sessions for Parts II, III and even a few PT reviews this past August. Essentially 23 solid days of reviews in 3 different states – Iowa, Kansas and Missouri and averaged about 12 hours a day of worthwhile study.
Well – it freakin’ paid off! A few days ago I checked to see when the scores might be available and to my surprise the website said results would be available Monday morning, 8 a.m. MST.
I crushed it! Bested my previous score by 140 points and ended up getting a 480!
There was a week between my last review session and that exam and that week was probably unduly stressful because I had to work every day leading up tot he exam – my fault, for not requesting more days off but, I had already taken off nearly a month – still, I’d done enough to pass with flying colors! :)
In order to finally get though school, I had to break things up by first finishing all my classes then I focused exclusively on completing my clinics. That strategy did work and got me to graduation. However, a lot of the kids I talked with during this past week shared with me that they were in the process of finishing up their 2nd year of radiology with me – I have to go back about 3 years to when I finished and I realize, every day that passes between when all these classes ended and now all tends to make that humble buffet a little bigger every single day.
On the other hand, maybe it’s a bit like that Leitner method of memorization with spaced repetition and perhaps I can at least say I’m on my way to eventually consuming, digesting and assimilating that humble buffet.
I’ve got about 6 months before that exam. I just need to up my game.
oh yeah – one of the last hotels I stayed at when prepping for my Part III retake didn’t have a desk, it barely had room for the bed so I spent a lot of time outside with a book and leaning on the balcony. I spent so much time with my elbows on that balcony holding my books that I eventually wore the skin away on my elbows to the point of bleeding. Study battle scares! Good for the male ego and kind of funny. About a week later my brother took a picture
well, not overly dramatic but, if you look closely you can still see the study scars ;)
Honestly, it was pretty emotional to see that score. Anyway, I suppose that’s enough musing.
Time to look forward – There is one state in the country that allows you to get a license with Part III and that state is Illinois where I happen to live :)
and, with that license I can finally apply to test and become an NRCME! – Nationally Registered Certified Medical Examiner.
How long does it take to get a license…. (had to Google this) looks like once I tic off 15 or so items the state requires and get everything sent in then I should have it within about 2 and a half months. ….hmmmm, maybe by Valentines Day :)
Pondering 2015 – real possibilities include that license and a black belt in karate. I think I’m signed up for 3 half marathons – 2 in April and one Rock n Roll in October.
I did play it a little smart and allocated some post-review time at my parents condo so I’ll have some time to get some plans in motion and figure out more for 2015 and, ideally not end up as sick and strung out on stress like I was after my last bout of reviews.
I did learn on that site I Googled that only 150 hours of CMEs (Continuing Medical Education) is needed each year, I thought it was 200 hours. This will afford me some great opportunities. I think one of the first things I’d like to go after is a diplomat (specialty) in Neurology. A first step there will be searching out a former teacher by the name of Dr Bub! :)