#1 piece of advice to new pathology residents


15+ Year Member
Mar 21, 2004
  1. Attending Physician
    Dear new pathology residents,

    Congratulations on matching at your respective programs. I am a first year pathology resident who did a post-junior fellowship as well. While you are all thinking about moving and finishing school and taking a vacation, there is something looming which you will be less prepared for than your clinical colleagues but which you are well equipped to deal with.

    Start thinking about USMLE Step 3 NOW! You will not be better prepared to take Step 3 than you are right now. Trust yourself, you are prepared. The longer you put it off, the more you will forget and the tougher it will be. I am currently at a program in a state where you do not have to take Step 3 as long as you are a resident or fellow. I have seen a brilliant resident (smarter than me) fail Step 3 because he blew it off until 4th year and had to blow another $600 to retake it. DONT BE THAT GUY/GIRL!

    I took Step 3 in October of my first year and passed with plenty of room to spare, and believe me, it is a huge weight off my shoulders.

    So what do you need to do?
    1) Graduate and get your actual diploma (you cant apply without a notarized copy).
    2) Apply via www.fsmb.org. Don't worry about your particular state's requirements. Just apply to Connecticut. All they require is a diploma, and they dont care where you are doing your residency. You dont have to take the exam in Connecticut. You can take the exam at any Prometric testing center in the US. I am in a training program in one state, applied to Connecticut, and then took the exam on vacation in a third state. Once you pass, you pass, and it counts everywhere. Is it a rational system? No. But who cares?
    Be warned that it may take 6 weeks to get your entry pass to sign up for the exam, and once you get it, you have 3 months from that date to take the exam. I have heard that they have speeded up the turnaround time, but I dont know this for a fact.However, if you can't take it in that 3 month window, you can pay $100 for an extra 3 months (I had to do this)
    3) Study! I strongly recommend Kaplan QBank. I was a little upset because it seemed to ask the same questions over and over again, but when I saw how many hits it had on the actual exam, I realized what a smart investment it was ($149, and lets be ethical and not "borrow" their questions.) Practice the CCS cases that you can download from usmle.org. I was very scared of the CCS cases since I went straight path, but they are easy and straightforward (I did screw one up, but it was easy, I just choked). Also keep in mind that the computer in the actual exam for the CCS cases is MUCH SLOWER than when you practice on your computer. Other books I liked were Crush Step 3, Boards and Wards, Step 3 made ridiculously easy, and the NMS Step 3 question book.



    Junior Member
    7+ Year Member
    15+ Year Member
    Jun 4, 2003
    south florida
      Thanks!! That's great advice.
      I usually learn from my own experience, but in this case, I'm going to learn from someone else's, I've met too many path residents who failed step 3, because they waited too long.
      Good Luck!
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      Global Disrobal

      Along for the ride
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      10+ Year Member
      15+ Year Member
      Sep 24, 2002
      1. Attending Physician
        Hey Big-O

        Thanks for the info!

        (yea, its me)...

        I'll IM you later to see how things worked out for you and give you an upadte on everyone.

        Take care!

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