Friday, May 27, 2011

Step 1 Study Sessions

I can honestly say that I have never in my life worked as hard as I am working now, preparing for this test. I've been in England for over 4 weeks, and since I have started my revision, I have left the house once. Once. I traveled all the way here, and I have yet to enjoy a day in Liverpool...

I had no idea that I would ever be this dedicated to revision, but here I am. Working hard. Putting in hours. Breaking down every few days, feeling worthless and overwhelmed, only to find myself confident and reassured a few days later. Its a really vicious and exhausting cycle. I really am so sick of sitting on my ass, studying first aid and reviewing flashcards and watching DIT and reviewing my notes. Seriously, I think I am forgetting what it was like to live, to have a weekend off, to work less than 12 hours a day. But this will be worth it; I pray to God it will be, anyway.

So, first of all you may be wondering WHY anyone would study for 6 weeks for 1 exam...well Step1 is a 7 hour, approximately 322 question exam covering anything and everything we have ever been taught about physiology, pathology, pharmacology, anatomy, biochemistry, epidemiology, embryology, etc. Thats a hell of a lot of material, and it is suggested that we study for 6-8 weeks for the exam, each day with about 10-12 hours of revision. This exam really makes or breaks what kind of doctor you can become, and what residency you can place into. But that doesn't really apply to me...I'm not going to go through the Match, and I won't be competing against other US med school grads - I want to practice in England. I only need to pass. But here's the thing: I truly, from the bottom of my heart, want to do my absolute best that I can...so I have been working my ass off.

Routine has been really the key to my study habits. Each day, I get up by 9 and go through my Doctors in Training lectures. This takes about 7 hours. By 4, I go through the worst part of my day - I take a practice test on U-World. Let me tell you, the questions are hard. I think the purpose of U-World is to make you realize how little you actually know, and it forces you to work harder. The average score of any exam is about a 50%. Somedays I'm above the mean, somedays I'm below, but I always dread the exams. It's a good learning experience, though, as they provide detailed explanations to each question to help expand your knowledge. But even after 2 years of medical school, it's still not easy for me to see anything less than 100%...After U-World, I go for a run and listen to a Goljan lecture related to the DIT lecture covered that day. I love the run - it is definitely the best part of my day. I don't know my way around that well, but I haven't got lost yet so I'd say I'm doing pretty well!haha This brings me to about 7, when I eat my dinner (I am so lucky to have a delicious, healthy dinner cooked for me every night!). Then I review notes until about 11, and then I go through some rapid review. Mike sometimes helps me with this, by firing questions at me for about a half hour - hour (I review on my own when he's not around - it's not as good, but better than nothing). I get to bed around 1, get up and start again the next day. The weekends have been spent reviewing the previous material and taking long U-World tests. Overall, on a really productive day I do about 15 hours; on a day that I find myself really distracted, I'm only getting in about 12.

All I can say is, thank God I didn't schedule my exam any later than I did. I've still got 10 days of revision left and I'm definitely starting to get really sick of it. I'm taking tomorrow night off, so hopefully that will be enough of a break to get me through the final push and on to a good score!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Southport study break

I can certainly tell that I've met the halfway point in my revision; I have been desperate for a day out, with my books left at home. After a few hours of study this afternoon, Hakim & Carol took Mike & me to Southport. We just had a little walk round and then went for a meal. They always take us to really delicious restaurants, and tonight was really extra nice. Things I love about the restaurants here that I cannot get at home: the gorgeous olives, the goat's cheese, the creme brulee, the espresso to finish the meal, and the slow service. I love that a meal can take a few hours to experience; it reminds me of our family dinners at home, where we sit around the table and eat and talk to our hearts' content. I love the closeness you feel sitting around the table with family or friends. And I definitely love how relaxed the atmosphere is.

One thing that I really, really love about England is how nice the countryside is. I just love how you can be so close to the city yet so near to the country, it is an absolute perfect fit for me. Mike must have figured me out, as he always suggests we take a drive out to see the country whenever I'm feeling down, and it always cheers me up. I'm looking forward to my dad and my brother, Brian coming over here someday and seeing the farms; I think they'll be surprised at how much farming there actually is in England.

I had such a good night tonight that I didn't even think about Step 1 for a few hours. Ah, a glimpse at living real life again!haha I needed this night off, hopefully I'll be able to make it through the last 2+ weeks of revision without burning out!!! June 7th will be here before I know it...!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grandpaw is 102!

Sorry that I have kind of abandoned my blog; Step 1 study season is in full swing, and I literally just don't have the time to jot down the monotonies of my day. A big reason why I wanted to start this blog was to 1.) keep my family and friends in touch with what I'm up to and 2.) to look back on my medical school career and be so damn happy that its over!haha I'm not sure I want to look back on this time of my life; I'll just be happy that it is over. I mean, 12-14 hours a day of revision is torture enough for any one.

Yesterday was my "Grandpaw" Ellerbrock's 102nd birthday; He has really been through it all - the first world war, the depression, the prohibition, the second world war, the british invasion (beatles!)... he's seen women and blacks gain the right to vote... he's seen the rise of the automobile, the tractor, the automatic milking machines... Talking to him about the past is so interesting; I love hearing all of his stories about growing up. Recently, he was highlighted in the Historical Society's newsletter, showcasing his life, and I was happy to learn a bit more. So I was looking online through some genealogy sites, and stumbled across someone's hard work that has researched our lineage back all the way to 1624, to Johannes Ellerbrock of Glandorf, Germany. (reference: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/e/l/l/Ralph-G-Ellerbrock/BOOK-0001/0004-0015.html ). I am absolutely fascinated by genealogy; finding out more about where I come from helps me to understand who I am, gives me a sense of belonging and dare I say importance...For someday, my great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter may take an interest in her lineage, and find my name and life story along the way. I wish I had more time to investigate my ancestors, but I am sure that there will be a time in the future when I can continue this passion (once my life is a little less hectic, say, when I retire??) ;)

My Sister, Andrea, My Mom, Dad, and Grandpaw
at Andrea's High School Graduation Party.

Anyway, Happy Birthday to my Grand-paw! I am so proud to be his grand-daughter, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to get to know such an interesting man. (Fingers crossed his longevity genetics have passed on to me!) ;)

...on a side note, Mike and I plan to wed 2 years from yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can actually organize it all AND get through the last two years of medical school! ;)

Hope you all are doing well! I will try and stick to posting at least twice a week, hope you all check back then! :) :) :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gina & Ben are engaged!!

I had a feeling this might happen while Mike and I were away...

GINA and BEN are ENGAGED!! ahhhhhhhhhh I am still just SOOOooo excited for them!!


There are some rare couples in the world that you meet and think "they could not be any more perfect for each other"; these two are the best example of that. They have the same silly sense of humor which makes them a lot of fun to be around, and you can just see how happy they are together. I mean, Gina has always been a positive person, but Ben just makes her shine. I have never met two people that fit so well together. They are such a perfect match, and I am SOOoo happy for them!!! AND Gina is going to make a gorgeous bride; the wedding will no doubt be perfectly beautiful. I am seriously so excited for them; wish we were there to celebrate with you, but we'll definitely be busting out the champagne when we get back to Toledo!!! :) :) :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

2 Days until LPL!

Two days from now, Mike and I will be on our way to Manchester Airport, to stay in Liverpool for 6 weeks. Mike has been looking forward to this day since the day we came back to Toledo from Liverpool in January...I'm looking forward to it as well, but I know how much time I will be spending on revision for my step 1, so it's not going to be like one of our typical trips home...instead it will be filled with a ton of work.

Marley will be staying with my mom and dad while we're away. She loves it there, the big house, the big yards, the dogs, the cats, the farm...but I'm sure going to miss her. For someone who isn't a dog person, you wouldn't understand...but I am really going to miss her. She has made our life so much more enjoyable; she makes us laugh everyday, we just love her to bits. She'll have a great time though, she probably won't even notice we've gone, but Mike and I will be missing her loads.

Tomorrow I'll be saying goodbye to my family, and I won't see them again until the end of June. I don't see them often as it is, being that med school controls my life, but it will be strange to be so far away from them for so long. I may get some of an idea of how hard it is to be away from your family, something that Mike has to deal with all of the time. And in 2 years, I'll be the one who is 4000miles from home...!

One thing that has made the move over here a little bit easier on Mike is my family. My nephew, Alex, has made Mike feel especially welcome; Alex has been close with Mike since he was just a baby. The first time Mike met Alex, Alex just stared at Mike's curly hair and smiled at him. Alex loves to watch Mike do his "big kicks", and whenever we go home, Mike and Alex always spend some time together. On Easter, Alex and Mike hunted for the Easter Eggs that were hidden all around the house...Alex brought Mike down into the basement to look there, and he went over to the sub-pump and asked Mike if any eggs would be hidden down there...Mike said he didn't think so, to which Alex replied "NOooo, a bunny can't hide eggs in a sub-pump!" as if to say to Mike, don't be ridiculous, of COURSE there aren't any in there you dummy!haha He's a real conversationalist, our Alex! :)

I just love this picture because you can see in Alex's expression how much he looks up to Mike. 

My two favorite guys in the world: