The news that the USMLE changed the all-important Step 1 exam–which many residency programs have been using improperly to stratify applicants and which can affect one’s specialty choice–to pass/fail starting in 2022-ish caused quite a bit of shock and consternation last week. Sure, some celebrated the change as a victory, but there’s just one liiiiiittle problem: the more competitive residency programs feel they need some standardized measure to base their choices on.
Several listeners wrote in with questions on the change, and the underlying concerns those questions addressed was the uncertainty left in the wake of this change–to wit, “what am I to aim for if there is no three-digit score I can point to as a mark of excellence?” Though the powers-that-be are essentially responding, “we’re working on it, we’ll get back to you on that,” there are some possibilities to consider. And we shall, with the help of M4 Matt Wilson, MD/PhD students Aline Sandouk and Hannah Van Ert, and M1 Nathen Spitz.
Special thanks to listener Terrified Chihuahua and everyone who reached out with questions on this sudden shift in the medical education landscape!
What are your thoughts on how a pass/fail Step 1 score will change medical education and the residency application process? Did we miss anything? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
When listener Celebi Jigglypuff (yes, that’s a pseudonym) reached out to ask whether we felt taking Step 1 after a year of clinical rotations (as some schools require) was a good idea or not, we were prepared to sink our teeth into that and have a normal show, too. But then, University of Iowa College of Education PhD student Andrea Ash happened to reach out to us because she’s been looking at Step 1 as a class project and was surprised about what she was finding. Everything from residency programs using scores for an unintended purpose to a cut score far below the averages that students were obtaining to officials snarking about students who should be studying rather than having lives outside of med school. And thus, Dave’s plans for the show were subverted for the greater good–a discussion on much of what’s wrong with this important exam that can affect a medical student’s dream specialty choice.
Is all hope lost if you score less than average for a given specialty? Certainly not! These are averages. But it’s a source of anxiety that to many seems unnecessary–maybe it’s long past time, they say, to make Step 1 pass/fail. Of course, then residency programs would grasp for some other metric to use as a way to weed out their long lists of candidates, but we’d be happy to deal with that in a future show.
Did you catch what started us talking about this week’s topic? Celebi Jigglypuff’s question! See why we love listener questions? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email email@example.com and tell us what you want us to discuss on next week’s show!
[Happy Holidays! Dave is on vacation, but here’s a re-run to tide you over. We’ll be back with new episodes starting 1/16]
We on The Short Coat Podcast like to encourage people to follow their med school dreams in spite of whatever apparent obstacles stand in the way. So when we found out that Jessica McCabe, host of the popular YouTube channel How to ADHD, was coming to the University of Iowa, we were excited to get her on the show. And with co-hosts Irene Morcuende and Kelsey Adler–both successful medical students and ADHD brains–on hand along with CCOM learning specialist Chia-Wen Moon to prove that this obstacle can be just another bump in the road. You may be surprised to hear how those with ADHD brains–and the groups they work in–can actually benefit from their atypical thought processes.
But what kinds of effects does ADHD have in med school? What techniques have worked for Kelsey, Jessica, and Irene? How do relationships suffer and flourish when one of you has ADHD? What does a learning specialist do? And how can medical schools support its students who need help? All questions we discuss for you, Short Coats!
This episode comes out the day after Christmas, and is recorded the week before, so we’re exploring what some describe as “the most wonderful time of the year,” and what others describe as Thursday. Given that recording date, in a bit of time travel Hillary O’Brien, Laura Quast, Jenna Johnson, and LJ Agostinelli share what they want to will have gotten (because time travel is confusing for grammarians) for Christmas. LJ shares her recent experience defending her thesis, Kylie Miller stops by with her cat Mowgli, the gang tries Turkish treats, and Dave forces them to take a pop quiz on Christmas according to unreliable internet sources.
The amazing Dr. Ryan Gray, host of quite a few of the pre-med focused podcasts over at mededmedia.com (of which we, of course, are a member), joins Maddie Mix, Hillary O’Brien, Nick Lind, and Kyle Kinder as guest co-host! Which is good, because we start with a rather difficult topic: should the parents of a profoundly disabled child–who will never be able to care for herself in even the most basic of ways–be allowed to ‘freeze’ her development so that she remains physically six years old if it will enable them care for her at home?
FYI, there’s new merch for charity (stickers!) at at theshortcoat.com/store! Also, It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America, and as we ‘muricans collapse on our sofas replete with turkey with all the trimmings, let us give thanks that M1s Nathen Spitz and Morgan Kennedy, and MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk are here to discuss auto brewery syndrome (or how to be a guilt-free Thanksgiving Day day-drinker if you want your life ruined for years by a real zebra of an illness).
And the gang tries to string together arbitrary medical words into illnesses and breakthrough treatments.
Today’s show features multiple screams, so don’t freak out. Because it’s Halloweeeeeeeen! Co-hosts Hillary O’Brien, Jenna Johnson, Elizabeth Shirazi, and newbie Erica Noyes (all M1s) tell their scary med student stories for your entertainment. And Short Coat MD Wannabe has a serious question about her future, as her post-bacc program is proving harder than expected.
Co-host and MD/PhD student Miranda Schene is a woman who has obviously been raised well. So when her mother, Ginny, wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org asking about the surprises med school had in store for this week’s gang, Dave–who also loves his mother–couldn’t very well say no! M1 Nathen Spitz and M2 Jenna Mullins, along with new co-host M1 Bryn Myers join in to give Mama Ginny the deets.
Plus Dave asks if his co-hosts can find and supply doctors’ testimonials for some As-Seen-On-TV products.
Some of the most important contributions to knowledge have come at a terrible price
The BBC featured a story on their site about an anatomy atlas that was created by a Nazi doctor, and the images within are those of hundreds of dissected political prisoners. The very conditions in Hitler’s concentration camps may have been among the reasons why these illustrations are so detailed. It is a terrible piece of work. This book, now out of print for decades, is still on the shelves of surgeons and consulted (if rather furtively) when they run out of other options. But new co-hosts Morgan Kennedy, Nathen Spitz, Margurite Jakubiak, along with M2 Madeline Cusimano, have to ask–can its vast utility outweigh it’s evil origins? Short Coats, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Plus the gang visits Yahoo! Answers to practice their patient-communication skills, sort of.
Pharmaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma were both in the news recently as opioid manufacturers who will be paying millions for their roles in the opioid epidemic. And a study suggests intermittent fasting (a practice in some religions but also a method of dieting) may be effective at limiting inflammation for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
A select group of students is introduced to med ed
For those who have been out of the student game for a while, or who feel they need a little extra time to get acclimated to the fast pace of medical education, there are programs like our Intro to Medical Education at Iowa. Whatever an individual school calls it, these programs can act as a bridge between your life before med school to the rigours of learning medicine. On this episode that Dave forgot to release a while back because he went on vacation, we meet pre-M1s in our program, Nicole Lacina, Timothy Morris, and Alec James. They and their teaching assistant, regular co-host Jacob Chrestensen are here to have some fun and describe what it’s like to crack the firehose with this program instead of taking it full in the face.
Plus, Dave’s unreasonable susceptibility to clickbait leads him to make up a new game. Can the co-hosts get him to click on their article with their crazy headlines? Yes. Yes, they can.