Elective Breaks and USMLE Studying

This one month break I’m getting was mainly for doing electives. You know, going to other hospitals and shadowing other physicians in fields that interest you and getting certificates and letters in return for your CV. Quite a few of my classmates have made themselves scarce as they head out to other cities and even countries to do electives.

And then there’s me, settled comfortably at home, waking up whenever I want and doing whatever I want. Except I’m studying for the USMLE.


I have been studying for it, on and off, since 3rd year. I had purchased a copy of First Aid and started adding my own notes to it from previous years as well as my third year as it unfolded. And again, reviewing it over the course of fourth year, although not as much as I would have liked. Still, it feels like I haven’t really made a dent into anything.

During my fourth year, I had gone through the entire series of videos from First Aid Express. It was basically my first pass over First Aid and it was actually really good. I enjoyed the videos quite a bit, especially since I had them on my phone and would often watch them during breaks or whenever we had time in class. I don’t remember much from that pass now though, which is unfortunate, but some things have definitely been stored in my memory which I can recall with certain trigger words. For example, pseudomembranous colitis can be caused by clindamycin and treated with metronidazole.

Now what am I planning for November? I’ve decided to go through my second pass of First Aid with Doctors in Training. They’ve given out their own study plans in their guide, but I decided to figure out a schedule on my own. I’m currently chugging along at a steady pace of at least 8 study videos a day, which make up around 5 hours of watch time.

The first few days were terrible. It’s gotten better now. In fact, I’ve even been able to sit and go up to 12 videos a day, mostly because I wanted to cover as much as possible. However, I’ve now come to the conclusion that it’s probably better for me to skip the pathology heavy videos and only do the questions in favor of watching Pathoma instead. I really feel that Pathoma is a lot easier to use than First Aid when it comes to pathology. I hadn’t also skipped the pathology videos in First Aid Express but had later definitely felt like it would have been far better to simply rewatch Pathoma instead. These DIT pathology videos are much harder to watch than Express, mostly because DIT adds in a lot of extra content that I can’t seem to fit in my edition of First Aid.

As you can see, I’m doing my best to clear out all these boxes by the end of November. My academic year starts in December and while I do anticipate having to spend a week or two of December to mop up the last of the videos, I am now hopeful that I may be able to finish it earlier than expected if I decide to convert the pathology heavy videos over to Pathoma.

30 days. Almost 300 videos. Let’s see how things will go.

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