Any tips for MS1s? (things you wish you knew as an MS1)

DrPanacea

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    Apologies if many of these things have been addressed in other threads. I've been spending a lot of time on my preclinical classes but I'm wondering if it's best for me to put in my time in a research project to beef up my research resume or to start any basic step 1 prep (Firecracker, First Aid?). I keep hearing preclinical classes are not very important and I'm wondering if any MS3+'s have any advice on how to better spend that particular time.

    I go to a top 25 med school that's known to NOT teach to the step. Although I'm doing well in my preclinicals thus far I wonder if I should invest my time into other stuff that might directly help me land my residency of choice (research, a bit of step 1) and be content with sacrificing my preclinical grades a bit.

    Thanks in advance :)
     

    Apoplexy__

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      Read First Aid now. Work on it until it's second nature and expand on it.

      Do not sacrifice grades ever.

      Research if you've got time to spare without sacrificing grades or step scores, and you're determined to apply for a competitive residency.

      Agreed. Preclinical grades themselves aren't very important for residencies, but the learning you do throughout them is the #1 most correlated variable to Step 1 success (which IS very important for residencies).

      Most people would say First Aid is premature for a 1st semester MS1, but I think you might get something out of it 2nd semester (maybe March-ish?).

      Firecracker is fantastic and I wish I'd started it sooner (I started around late April/early May of MS1). My grades shot up as soon as I started rigorously using it (about 15 hours/week). It's also great for banking and solidifying MS1 knowledge during summer break. Goljan lectures are fantastic for passive learning during commutes/chores/working out, and can probably be started 2nd semester. I've listened to every lecture of the series about 3x just from doing a little bit here and there throughout the past 10 months.
       
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      SurgeDO

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        Agreed. Preclinical grades themselves aren't very important for residencies, but the learning you do throughout them is the #1 most correlated variable to Step 1 success (which IS very important for residencies).

        Most people would say First Aid is premature for a 1st semester MS1, but I think you might get something out of it 2nd semester (maybe March-ish?).

        Firecracker is fantastic and I wish I'd started it sooner (I started around late April/early May of MS1). My grades shot up as soon as I started rigorously using it (about 15 hours/week). It's also great for banking and solidifying MS1 knowledge during summer break. Goljan lectures are fantastic for passive learning during commutes/chores/working out, and can probably be started 2nd semester. I've listened to every lecture of the series about 3x just from doing a little bit here and there throughout the past 10 months.

        seconded.

        do especially well in pharm.

        it is never too early to start pathoma...21 month trials are for champs.
         

        DrEnderW

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          Agreed. Preclinical grades themselves aren't very important for residencies, but the learning you do throughout them is the #1 most correlated variable to Step 1 success (which IS very important for residencies).

          Most people would say First Aid is premature for a 1st semester MS1, but I think you might get something out of it 2nd semester (maybe March-ish?).

          Firecracker is fantastic and I wish I'd started it sooner (I started around late April/early May of MS1). My grades shot up as soon as I started rigorously using it (about 15 hours/week). It's also great for banking and solidifying MS1 knowledge during summer break. Goljan lectures are fantastic for passive learning during commutes/chores/working out, and can probably be started 2nd semester. I've listened to every lecture of the series about 3x just from doing a little bit here and there throughout the past 10 months.

          Awesome response.

          How much time would it take daily to crush Firecracker during the M1/M2 summer for M1 topics? I don't want to have the time sink during the semester.
           

          DrPanacea

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            Thanks for the reply guys. Would you recommend getting the current edition of first aid or wait till after Jan to get the 2014 edition? Also, would you recommend signing up for a firecracker account?

            Furthermore, what's the consensus of finding a research project to try to get some publications? What if it eats into my study time for preclinical classes? Thanks again.
             

            alpinism

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              OP this topic has been discussed extensively before (literally over a 100 times if you do a search).

              The overwhelming consensus from MS3s and above is to not study for step 1 during M1 (Hell most people don't start studying till 2nd semester of M2). Going over pathology review resources (Pathoma/Goljan) and FA when you haven't even taken pharm or path yet is mostly a waste of time.

              To answer your question, it depends on what specialty your interested in and where you might want to do residency. For some of the most competitive specialties, research is practically a unwritten requirement (esp at top programs) while for most primary care specialties it barely matters at all.

              1. Do some shadowing and try to figure out which specialties you enjoy the most. It helps a lot to have a rough idea going into M3 since you can better schedule rotations and locations, while building strong relationships with faculty to get LORs. You'll also have to start applying for M4 away rotations in your future specialty (audition rotations) during M3. The best way to put together a strong application is to plan ahead.

              2. If you are interested in competitive specialties, track down a PI with a good track record who likes to pump out pubs. Put in a few hrs a week doing some clinical research projects with residents.

              3. As long as you pass all your classes (treat school like a 9-5 job and you'll do fine) preclinical grades matter very little (esp if you're at a top 25 school).
               

              mcloaf

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                While I guess it's technically a Step 1 tool, I've been using Firecracker alongside classes as an M1 and it's been a huge help. I feel like I know more details with a stronger understanding than many of my classmates and I'm studying less overall because FC has the flashcards already made. That being said, you'll end up learning stuff from FC that you haven't covered in school, so you do end up burning time on stuff that's a bit premature/not necessary for exams. My school has also been pretty good about not letting profs bury us with no-yield info from their personal research labs; if that's common where you are FC may not be so useful for class exams.
                 

                madchemist89

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                  Don't worry too much about grades or Step 1. Work hard but maintain balance. Get at least 6 hours of sleep per day, exercise, eat well, and enjoy your life. I wasted a year of my life last year studying way too much. In the grand scheme of things, the studying I did was worthless. Sure, I crushed first year, but, honestly, nobody cares. Chill out. Work hard. Live.
                   

                  Apoplexy__

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                    How much time would it take daily to crush Firecracker during the M1/M2 summer for M1 topics? I don't want to have the time sink during the semester.

                    It would be pretty time consuming (and boring!) to do it all in the summer instead of maybe 30% during classes and 70% during summer. Probably a cumulative 80-100 hours just to bank the stuff (assuming you could bank about 40-50% of the site), then maybe 1 hour/day to keep up on the spaced repetition questions. I agree with mcloaf that FC is worth the time sink of doing it with your classes because it really hammers the info in as you go along and keeps it fresh.

                    2 points I'd like to make clear:
                    -My recommendations for when to start certain review sources should be considered with the caveat that I do a systems-based curriculum; I knew a bit of every subject (Path, Pharm, Physio) by 2nd semester MS1. If you're doing a subject-based approach (Cardio Phys, GI Phys, Lung Phys, etc.) then you should heed the other posters' warnings about review sources being meaningless until you've had Pharm, Path, Biochem exposure.
                    -The only thing that sets FC apart is spaced repetition! You'll get maybe 25% of its potential by banking and then not doing the recurring review questions as they come. This is why I think it's fine to do it along with your classes and take the time sink (even though it's scary to do so). Come the week before the test, you'll be the only one with instant recall of all that stuff from the 1st week of the test period if you've been banking as you go along and staying up on your review.

                    Thanks for the reply guys. Would you recommend getting the current edition of first aid or wait till after Jan to get the 2014 edition? Also, would you recommend signing up for a firecracker account?

                    Furthermore, what's the consensus of finding a research project to try to get some publications? What if it eats into my study time for preclinical classes? Thanks again.

                    I'm sure it doesn't matter which edition unless you'll end up 2 or more editions behind. Keep in mind if you have the edition before, you'll have a very complete errata to reference. As you saw from my previous posts, I definitely recommend FC, especially if you can commit to using it as a spaced repetition study tool.

                    Do research until you find it starts eating into your study time. If it does end up noticeably interfering, then wait until the summer or during a dedicated research rotation. Alternatively, if you find a very independent project, you could do the work for that only directly after test periods to minimize class interference.
                     

                    Renaissance Man

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                      I'm sure it doesn't matter which edition unless you'll end up 2 or more editions behind. Keep in mind if you have the edition before, you'll have a very complete errata to reference. As you saw from my previous posts, I definitely recommend FC, especially if you can commit to using it as a spaced repetition study tool.

                      Do research until you find it starts eating into your study time. If it does end up noticeably interfering, then wait until the summer or during a dedicated research rotation. Alternatively, if you find a very independent project, you could do the work for that only directly after test periods to minimize class interference.

                      Got to disagree with you about purchasing the most recent version of First Aid. For the $30 or so dollars that First Aid costs, it is definitely worth having the most up-to-date version of what medical students across the country have deemed "high yield" after taking Step 1. I am currently using the 2013 version as an MS2, but I have already preordered the 2014 version from Amazon for January. There will still be over 6 months of time to find out any errata.
                       

                      oanjiwks

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                        Ugh, for the love of god don't study for step 1 yet. Not that you're going to listen because everybody on this site is gun-tastic and will tell you about a strict step 1 diet to start consuming from the second you walk into med school. What is the point? All you're going to be doing is 1. going over things you are currently studying or have recently learned (time which would be better spent studying the materials you're supposed to use) and 2. wasting time trying to learn things that haven't been taught to you yet (wait until your professors teach it - trust me, it'll make more sense that way). Learn the **** the best you can the first time around (ie to do best on your exams) and it will come back more easily. Take 5-6 weeks after your 2nd year finals and go to town on studying. The only prep you should do before that is maybe glance through FA in 2nd year and take notes in it so you're familiar with the book. If you do decide to study for step 1 now, please make a thread in a year and a half and say how much of all that step 1 prep you did during first year stuck with you by the end of second year so that everybody else will see how pointless it is. Best of luck homegirl, don't sweat that stupid test yet.
                         

                        madchemist89

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                          Ugh, for the love of god don't study for step 1 yet. Not that you're going to listen because everybody on this site is gun-tastic and will tell you about a strict step 1 diet to start consuming from the second you walk into med school. What is the point? All you're going to be doing is 1. going over things you are currently studying or have recently learned (time which would be better spent studying the materials you're supposed to use) and 2. wasting time trying to learn things that haven't been taught to you yet (wait until your professors teach it - trust me, it'll make more sense that way). Learn the **** the best you can the first time around (ie to do best on your exams) and it will come back more easily. Take 5-6 weeks after your 2nd year finals and go to town on studying. The only prep you should do before that is maybe glance through FA in 2nd year and take notes in it so you're familiar with the book. If you do decide to study for step 1 now, please make a thread in a year and a half and say how much of all that step 1 prep you did during first year stuck with you by the end of second year so that everybody else will see how pointless it is. Best of luck homegirl, don't sweat that stupid test yet.

                          This guy knows what's up.
                           
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