Before planning on how to study during the two-month period for board review, I believe it is a must for a medical intern to maximize one whole year as a preparation for the future. Below are tips on how to make your internship a lot more meaningful, and useful for your future career.
1. Find the RIGHT review materials for the physician licensure exam (PLE).
Ask your friends from the upper batch (especially those who just recently passed the boards) on what to study for each subject. Consider your study style when picking the materials. For now, skip hoarding and try to focus on finding that one best material for each subject. I’ll write a separate entry for this matter, stay tuned!
2. READ at least one review material for each subject.
You have one whole year to study so you certainly don’t have an excuse. The truth is, from July to December 2016, I was only able to read on OB-GYN, Community Medicine, and bits of Internal Medicine. When 2017 came, I felt that pressure of the upcoming board exams. I regret not being able to read on Microbiology and Legal Medicine. I got my 2nd and 3rd highest marks on these subjects on the board exams, but imagine if I have studied these during internship; I could have gotten a higher score on each, or could have had more time on other subjects. So my advice is to read on each subject. Remember, all 12 subjects have an equal percentage on the PLE. Each subject matters!
3. Write your curriculum vitae.
If you are to apply for a residency program or a certain job after the board exam, you’ll be asked to submit your CV. Some application forms also follow the usual format of a CV, so if you already have one ready, it would be easy for you to recall and write down your accomplishments.
4. Secure documents from your medical school and government offices.
Some residency programs set an early deadline for submission of requirements. If you’re going to acquire your documents just after the board exams, you might find it difficult to squeeze in a time for studying for the entrance exam (just in case the program requires you to take a certain test), or worse, you might not be able to apply due to lack of papers. About a month before your internship ends, you might want to secure two copies (or more) of the following:
- Original and certified true copies of your transcript of records (TOR)
- Certified true copy of your MD diploma
- Certificate of good moral character
- Certificate of GWA and class rank
- Certificate of Internship (this may be available soon after your last day of internship)
Note that you need your TOR, MD diploma, ID pictures (secure 2×2 and passport-sized copies), cedula, certificate of internship, and NSO birth certificate to register for the PLE.
5. Enroll in a review center, or don’t.
Again, all you have to do is ask people from the upper batch. I’d say that majority of the people in my batch enrolled in Topnotch. There were two programs offered, Premium and Essentials. I enrolled in the Essentials program because I am used to studying and reading on my own. I don’t enjoy sitting on lectures, but just in case you also enrolled in Topnotch, make sure to attend Dr Baticulon’s Biochemistry lecture. I think the bulk of my payment to Topnotch is actually worth it because Dr Baticulon is a genius teacher. I’ll talk about my review center experience in my PLE 101 entry soon.
Again, to enroll or not to enroll depends on your confidence and study habit. Before the registration for Topnotch started, I was actually thinking of just studying on my own. Here’s the thought process behind my decision: If I enroll, I could pick the lectures I’d attend and just study on my own if I’m not really in the mood to sit in class. If I’d just study on my own and totally ditch the whole review center thing, I might pass, but would I think that I would have gotten a higher score if I enrolled in a review center? So, I enrolled in Topnotch. HAHA.
After taking the exams, I’d say that most of my answers were actually NOT from my two-month review, but from my past readings in med school and experiences in the hospital. However, what the review center provided for me, aside from that amazing Biochem lecture series, was confidence that what most people know, I also know, because we basically just read the same review materials. I’m not telling you to choose Topnotch, you can ask people who enrolled in Cracking D’ Boards, or those who studied on their own to know what’s best for you. However, based on the number of students, I think Topnotch is the best option if you’re going to enroll in a review center.
6. Plan for the near future.
I’m not saying that during internship, you should change yourself into a Type A person, if you aren’t already. I think it just helps that you know what your next step would be after the PLE. If you’ve already decided to take a year off, good for you. You’ll have the opportunity to earn money, travel, and do non-medical activities that you’ve been dying to try for so long. If you want to apply for residency but you’re not yet sure on which to choose between Programs A and B, it’s fine. Maybe right after the board exams, you’ll know the answer. It’s still best if you have your papers ready (go back to #3 and #4).
If you are sure on which program to pursue, you better draft a letter of intent already. You may also want to check the institutions you want to apply to on their social media pages. Follow them so you would get an idea on their requirements for application (it could be based on the previous year) and be aware of their deadlines. For example, UERM Dermatology required an NBI clearance. Some programs required a TIN, while the majority asked for recommendation letters. If you want it, go for it! Be prepared!
The future can look scary but you have the power to lead your life into the direction that would make you happy. Always think of your purpose and your goals.
7. Ask for advice. Talk to resident doctors and consultants.
Talk to people who have been through what you’re about to experience. You’ll be surprised with the wisdom they could impart. Listen to the pieces of advice they are very willing to share. You’ll never know, the consultant who would recommend you to your future residency program may be that same doctor you were assisting in the OR, or the consultant you were just leisurely chatting with at the cafeteria. Do not be afraid to ask questions and again, listen.
8. Maximize your learning potential.
Internship is an opportunity to learn not only from your residents and consultants, but also from your patients and of course, your clinical clerks. You may not always know the answer to every question, but you can always read on it and discuss it with them later. If you encounter a drug on the chart that is unfamiliar to you, it’s your chance to learn about it while you’re still curious. If the patient has a rare disease that you can’t remember from your books or transcriptions, now is the best time to know more about it.
9. Relax and have fun!
Enjoy your days off with your friends, family, and of course, your co-interns! Your community medicine rotation is the best time to plan for that getaway with your duty-mates!
If you have questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment below. Hope this post is helpful!
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