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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore…

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore…

Hello hello, and welcome back to the Scenic Route to MD. As per usual, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything, but I finally had some time to catch you up on what’s been happening over the last while.

To say the last few months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement, and honestly if I never hear the world whirlwind again it will be too soon.

Where to begin? The last time I had posted in January (woooops), I was enjoying some downtime and gearing up to head to Kansas City for a board exam prep course before writing my Step 1 exam.

Well, We’re not in Kansas anymore! But we were. And then we were in Missouri. And then we were back in Edmonton. And then we were in Tennessee. And finally, back at home.

Like I said, it’s been a busy two months.

But I’ll start from the beginning.

New Adventures

I was nervous heading to Kansas City. My lone core memory for solo travelling had only been the mandatory trip to the island last summer. Which if you’ve followed along for the last year, you know how well that went.

I was nervous for the prep program and was not only unsure of what to expect from the course, but also of what my school’s expectations were going to be. Could I fail the course? Would there be some weird loophole where if I didn’t score high enough, they would send me back to the island to repeat some review course? A whole semester even?

Of course, all of these possible scenarios were insane, but based on my experiences thus far…nothing was totally off the table in the realm of my ‘can they do that?’ mind.

I ended up choosing my hotel for one specific reason. They were affiliated with my course, and in doing so had offered a shuttle to and from classes. Great, that will save me a ton of money in not having to rent a car, I thought to myself.

Except in typical Jessica fashion, in a ‘never before seen’ problem, the class enrolment for this particular start date was SO small that they decided they weren’t going to run the shuttle.

Crap. Okay. I was alone and didn’t know anyone in my class. Oddly enough I didn’t see any public transit the entire time I was there… The hotel suggested I meet up with the only other student staying at the hotel to see if we could come up with some sort of deal. She had already rented a car so we arranged a car pool agreement, which worked out for the first few weeks and then I ended up renting my own for the last portion.

LFG

The first day of class was terrifying. Probably not for the average person, but for someone who used to get clammy when we had to read out loud in grade school and subsequently count out exactly what paragraph I would be assigned to, it was my “showing up to school in your underwear” nightmare.

If you can take a guess, public speaking or being called on in class have never been my thing. Well in this program, and especially with having such a small class (12 people vs. 60+ people in the last session) it was about to become “my thing” multiple times a day. Sigh.

It’s fine, you are becoming a doctor. You can answer a question in front of 11 other people you’ll never see again. DEAL with it.

We were introduced to the professors, got a rundown of how the next 6.5 weeks would go, and then we got straight into it. There were a lot of Caribbean students in the class, which was refreshing to see and made me feel less alone, plus a few US students who were spread out at various institutions.

Some were repeating the course by choice and would pick and choose which days they would attend, trying to soak up the last minute high yield points before their upcoming exam.

Okay, maybe this won’t be so bad after all? We were all here for the same reason, we all wanted to do well and move onto the next part of our training. Let’s do this.

What Day is it?

The daily routine of the course became such an autonomous action that suddenly I looked up and three weeks had gone by. Monday to Friday looked a little something like this:

6:00: Wake up naturally to the sound of birds chirping; no need for alarms. Just kidding, I have four set and hate every single last one of them.

6:40: Stock up on free coffee and breakfast (and maybe a little extra to exact my revenge for the shuttle getting kyboshed – not bitter about it though)

6:45: Head to class early to get some morning review in (I am NOT an evening study person, so I would way rather wake up a bit earlier than stay up past 10pm lol)

8:00: Morning question block (every morning we had to do a 40 question quiz which more often than not left me feeling stupid before the sun came up…it’s fine…)

9:00: Lecture aka reviewing our giant First Aid textbook (the med student bible) for whatever topic was being reviewed that day + a few pop quiz moments where I just hoped I didn’t sound like a complete idiot.

12:15: quick lunch aka review some pharm drugs for the impending afternoon of questions where I yet again hoped I didn’t sound like a complete idiot.

1:00: Just as we had done in the morning, we would do more quizzes in the afternoon but this time in more of a group setting (terror). They were typically a mix of microbiology, pharmacology, and whatever specific topics we were learning that day. I actually became quite fond of these sessions, because it showed a lot of times that even though you got an answer wrong, you weren’t alone in your reasoning and many other students had the same line of thinking. Then we would go through each answer choice and break down why they were incorrect. Plus you know how they say you remember things better when you get them incorrect, so by the end of this I should be a GENIUS right?

3:15: FREEDOM. Time to zoom home through the horrendous drivers of Kansas back to my little hotel apartment.

4:00: Sneak a quick little workout in to maintain what sanity I have left.

5:30: Finish up homework from the day, review my quizzes from the AM, stuff my face with whatever lazy meal prep I had decided on that week; usually accompanied by a crispy diet 7-Up – chef’s kiss.

8:30: TRY to review some topics for the next day, to not be totally surprised when asked a question (the amount of extra work I will do to not be caught off guard in these situations is ridiculous, but hey it’s a double whammy when doing so actually helps me retain more info anyways).

10:00: TRY to go to bed so as to prevent turning into a zombie for the next day. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. I will say, on this trip I started using a sleep meditation playlist each night and it made me sleep like a BABY. 10/10 recommend.

Sometimes we had the Saturday off completely, but some of the weekends we had full length mock board exams (think 8-9 hours of brain melt). Afterwards we would have the rest of the evening to die relax, and then Sunday we would spend the entire day going over the exam.

See what I mean when I say whirlwind?

keeping the sanity

The Finish Line

Throughout the program we would have meetings with one of the professors to go over our progress and goals for the following weeks. I really appreciated this, and it really felt like they wanted us to succeed. Everyone had an individualized plan on what they needed to focus on or spend some extra time on before the end of the course.

In the last few days of the course, we had our final sit-down meeting and went over what the next few weeks would look like. A lot of it was maintaining the momentum we had gained during the program: question blocks everyday, content review, practice mock exams every other week.

While the final word is up to my school, the program projected I should be writing my Step 1 near the end of May (AHHHH!) so I was excited to get home and hit the books to ace this last chapter of Basic Sciences before starting my clinical rotations.

Target, AMC and Shake Shack OH MY!

Now, Kansas wasn’t ALL books and studies. Coming from Canada I clearly had to experience all the novel things we don’t get to see on a daily basis. So obviously, my first stop was Target. Not just any Target either. A SUPER Target. It was just as beautiful as I imagined. It was also conveniently located about a 5-minute walk from my hotel, so that was great (or dangerous depending on how you look at it).

I got to scope out an AMC theatre on my off weekend and finally see the famous Nicole Kidman preview – what a treat.

I also took a few recommendations from friends and tried Shake Shack. Probably the best milkshake I’ve ever had, no lie. It was the absolute best treat after a 9 hour mock exam day.

When I wasn’t busy immersing myself in the fruitful culture of fast food and movie theatres, my boyfriend and I would try to sneak in a long-distance movie date night which was always wonderful. I’m excited for future rotations where he can hopefully visit me a bit and we can explore some fun cities together, but Kansas didn’t seem like the most exciting place to start those adventures lol.

See Ya Later America…For Now

Just like that it was time to pack up and head back to Canada, hermit myself away to study and kick this test’s ass.

I packed up all my fun US treats (aka mainly candy) and some Jayhawks/Chiefs swag for the family, hoped my suitcase wasn’t overweight and said SEE YA LATER Kansas City.

I was so excited to get home, relax a bit, get back into my study routine, back to running outside, and excited to see my friends and family. 6.5 weeks isn’t a huge chunk of time, but when you don’t know a single person around you in an unfamiliar place, it can get a bit lonely.

But oh wait, did I forget to mention that just prior to heading off to Kansas, my best friend Lisa told me she was taking me to Nashville for another whirlwind weekend the WEEK I got home?

Good thing I didn’t put my suitcase away…

But I think we will leave it there for now.

As always if you’ve stuck around for the longwinded rambling, thank you so much. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

-J

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