Well, the first two years of medical school have been completed, as of this morning. I took my final in the "Practice of Medicine" class, covering Oncology, Endocrinology, Pediatrics, and Dermatology. This class is a little more clinically oriented than the others, but it's still no substitute for being on the wards. The only remaining barrier between me and my Pediatrics clerkship beginning June 26th, is the United States Medical Licensing Examination, known colloquially among med students as "boards," administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. The exam I am taking is Step 1. I will take Steps 2 and 3 later (beginning of 4th year and following my intern year, respectively), and assuming graduation of medical school, passage of all 3 exams, and completion of an accredited residency, I will be eligible for a medical license and will become board eligible (BE) in whatever specialty I completed my training in. To become board certified (BC), I have to take another exam (I'm sensing a theme here!) specific to my specialty, following a couple of years in practice.
What does each of the exams test? According to the USMLE website, Step 1 assesses whether medical school students or graduates understand and can apply important concepts of the sciences basic to the practice of medicine. Step 2 assesses whether medical school students or graduates can apply medical knowledge, skills and understanding of clinical science essential for provision of patient care under supervision. Step 3 assesses whether medical school graduates can apply medical knowledge and understanding of biomedical and clinical science essential for the unsupervised practice of medicine.
I plan on studying ~14 hours/day for the next 2.5 weeks. My date for taking Step 1 is May 30th. The exam itself will take 8 hours, with an hour or so break for lunch. Thanks for your prayers for finals, here comes the biggie!