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Looking at Repeating First Year

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by willawah, May 16, 2008.

  1. willawah

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    So it looks like I will have to repeat first year. I have a firm grasp on material from the first semester, but second semester I failed a class by a little more than half a point and I barely passed a second class. The admins think that because of that I need to repeat the entire first year or else I'll be constantly swimming upstream second year and possibly bomb Step 1. The thing is going into the final exam for the class that I failed I had a passing grade. Family problems that have been occurring for years now really started snowballing on me the week I was trying to study for that final. I used to be good at compartmentalizing and juggling everything and making things work, but this time it didn't happen and I ended up shaving a couple of points off my final grade and failing the entire class. I know I should have put more of a distance between myself and the passing line, but I thought that what I was doing was at least good enough to help me pass and move on in the end. I'm wondering if I should appeal, maybe ask for an exam retake, and try to push to get on to second year or just give in and give it another go and trust that the admins are wise in their decision.
     
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  3. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Make the argument- you have nothing to lose. Have a plan developed to demonstrate you are aware of what lead you astray.

    I can tell you from experience that what I had in first year was not helpful for 2nd year and they were largely unrelated but your school may be different.

    Good luck!
     
  4. willawah

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    I looked at First Aid, and the material from first year at my school is covered in about 100 pages. I feel like with a good read through and practice questions, I should be on top of it enough for Step 1. But the school's argument is that people who have repeated in the past have done it successfully. Just the thought of doing it all over again when I have a decent grasp of the material leaves me feeling very drained.
     
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    First year is not as high yield as second year on the step exam. However second year tends to be a bit faster paced than first year, and you need the skills you learned from first year in terms of how to properly study to get through second year. If you failed one class and barely passed another, you cannot really say you have a "decent grasp" of the material. You are struggling. Your school feels you need a better foundation before continuing. I probably would take them up on it. They have seen folks in your position before, and so they created this policy to try to prevent future crashing and burning, when the stakes are higher. They aren't doing it to screw you over, I suspect, but rather to help you, so it's not really something you want to formally appeal. You can have a sit down with the dean and explain your concerns, but in the end, I would abide by their decision. You may need their good graces if you find yourself struggling again in second year or on the step.
     
  6. Moniker

    Moniker Member
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    yeah i agree, i definitely think a person who's failing or barely passing m1 is not ready for M2, regardless of what the reason is.
     
  7. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin
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    Meet with them. You put all of your cards on the table and they will put all of theirs on the table. They are looking to do what is best for you. They are on your side. They have good experience with this and have seen students like you in the same position and are only looking to put you in a position to where you can become a practicing physician.
     
  8. willawah

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    I was more struggling with taking exams than studying. At first I thought I wasn't studying the right things, so I signed up for a tutor and talked to one of the consultants the school has about study tips. I was told that I was doing the right things when it came to studying and given additional tips for measure, and I did know my stuff when my tutor would quiz me. It's just that when it came to exam time, the stress of outside stuff and the pressure to do well took its toll on me. I know they're not making me repeat first year as punishment. I get that. I guess I'm just finding that this is a hard pill to swallow right now.
     
  9. Moniker

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    it does sound difficult to cope with. realistically though, you're going to have to do a pretty serious gut-check and figure out EXACTLY what you need to do to be successful in the future and EXACTLY how you're going to do that (including motivation, personality, philosophy on school). we realize there were lots of external factors that can hinder your performance. so does the admin. but EVERY student has external pressures that make their job harder, to varying degrees. you have to figure out how to make med school work with yours.
     
  10. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS
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    One thing to consider is knowing whom you can trust to help you make this decision. Senior faculty that know you, and who have been in the business of educating medical students usually know what they are doing. They usually want you to succeed, and will work with you to accomplish that.

    If they think that you need to repeat a year in order to succeed, I would be VERY careful about questioning their decision in spite of how much it would suck to have to do over. I would be EXTRA careful about playing any kind of "family problem" card because you don't want them to play the "you need to take a sabbatical and deal with it" card back.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Green Chimneys

    Green Chimneys Meatwad's Worst Nightmare
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    While I respect L2D's position and those who agreed, an extra year of medical school is a ton of money. I would do everything you can to convince the dean to allow you to remediate classes or exams over the summer. Sure, you're struggling, and you don't have a firm grasp on the material from the second semester, but you can still get through second year and pass the boards if you put your mind to it and work hard (hopefully without any significant distractions). If the school won't allow you to do this, you've got no choice but to go through first year again or drop out altogether. You really have nothing to lose, and imho, repeating the entire year to get a firmer grasp on the material is NOT worth the price of tuition...that's what the 4-6 weeks of Step I prep time is for. Good luck.
     
  12. OddNath

    OddNath Senior Member
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    How many classes do you have total during MS1? At our school, you're allowed to fail one class and marginal performance another (this is like if you miss pass by half a point) and still be promoted to 2nd year, as long as the failed class is remediated over the summer. So it seems a little harsh that you'd have to repeat the entire year for 1 failed class.

    I suppose your goals for residency, etc, may also come into play when deciding how hard you want to fight this. If you're gonna need a high step 1, repeating MS1 might be a necessity. But..if you're aiming to just pass step 1, it'd seem kind of silly to repeat. I know aiming for bare minimum isn't the best thing to advocate, but hey, different people have different goals.
     
  13. UMED122

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    I agree with this. Unless the school is willing to pay the extra $50,000+ debt or whatever it is that they are asking for the extra year, I'm really hesitant to say they are looking out for your best interests. Do what you can to avoid repeating the year.
     
  14. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    I don't know about other schools, but at NYU if you have to repeat a year it is tuition free.
     
  15. willawah

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    I'm pretty certain I will have to pay for this extra year. My goals for residency are uncertain right now. I'm not dead set on any specialty. First year is 7 courses--5 are basic sciences, 1 is Physical Diagnosis, and 1 is Humanities, which is P/F. I'm told by the admins that they have required people to repeat before over the years "with great success." However, I know a couple of these people, and they weren't toeing the line like me. The courses they failed, they really failed by more than several points. A part of me does think it's harsh that I have to do it all over again, considering if I had just gotten about 10 more questions right on the final, I wouldn't be in this position. Barely passing two classes would still have meant I had passed and got to move on to second year. But then there's that other part that tells me to trust their decision and just roll with it because 20 years down the line, an extra year won't matter that much, would it? I don't know. I've been talking to the asst. dean of Student Affairs about it. I'm waiting for a response. He's the go-to guy to talk things through. He doesn't have a say in what happens, but he can give me direction in what to do.

    Also, there really isn't a formal appeals process for this kind of situation. There's only one for if you get dismissed, so I'm not really sure what my options are.
     
  16. persia

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    I am with brother/sister Flop on this one. Don't do anything to possibly antagonize the seniors, attendings or the admins.

    If your deans say we want you to do this, then I would take about a nanoseconond to consider the suggestion, and then I would cheerfully say that this is a great idea, and you welcome the opportunity to work harder, learn from the experience and do much better the second time around. And, thank you very much for being so willing to help me improve and become the physician that I know I can become. I won't let you down.

    You get the drift. Money, schmoney. You want a good degree and you want a brain full of super knowledge. A year in your life is nothing compared to what you will gain when you leave. That includes the priceless goodwill of your administration. :)

    You are a normal person, and you have normal feelings and struggles. Don't think of it as a 'bad' thing; think of it as 'your' thing. No big deal. Work hard, study super hard, learn from your 'mistakes' and set a new plan. Your life will change as you move through med school - but keep the skills you learn during your repeat year, that will be your biggest reward.
     
  17. Green Chimneys

    Green Chimneys Meatwad's Worst Nightmare
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    I certainly wasn't suggesting the OP antagonize anybody. Asking to remediate over the summer, however, is quite reasonable and I don't think anybody would be upset by the request as long as you don't act like a little baby. Sure, they may turn you down, and in that case you take what you can get.

    Taking the year over is not going to improve your standing for residency programs as the failure is going to be on your record either way. It's highly unlikely to make a difference in your Step I score as you're going to have to study this stuff over again to pass. It's going to make minimal difference in your second year classes as the fact that you came so close to passing indicates that you don't know the material intricately, but you probably know the foundations well enough to get by. It's definitely not going to make you a better doctor unless you subscribe to some weird theory about overcoming adversity. It is however going to be a very frustrating year. It is going to cost you a lot of money, not just tuition but interest too. It is probably going to make you feel a bit self conscious around your current classmates.

    Don't just ask to be passed blindly, but come up with some ideas and ask for suggestions. In most schools, remediation, repeating, and dismissal are not hard and fast rules but are at the discretion of committees or deans. If you have to repeat, you'll be okay, but at least you'll know you asked.
     
  18. doc20

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    see if the admin are willing to find a middle ground and let you just by repeating the 2nd semester that you really failed or just repeating the 2 classes you marginally fail and cram it in 1 semester and be done with, you should have a good argument with this option as you passed the other classes and you dont really need to demonstrate again that you grasp that material
     
  19. Moniker

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    Dude if you can, you gotta stop making excuses on this. It may have been "just a few" questions on "one exam", but in reality, it was missing those questions on every exam...you had plenty of chances to pick up those 10 extra questions. You have to either consistently do poorly on exams or do really poorly on one exam to fail a course. It doesn't matter whether it was 10 questions on one exam or 2 questions on every exam, you missed the cutoff. That's the fact. You did not perform up to the standards to pass a medical school course, and sorry to say it, but that's your responsibility. If you were borderline in other courses, it says to me that this problem wasn't specific to one course you found particularly tough, but you're not able to perform well in medical school courses. Sure, the fact that a student passes, regardless of how well they passed it (borderline or not) means you've met the expectations to become a doctor based on that measurement, but I'd apply the same logic you used to explain your failure to those classes....if you had missed just a few more questions here or there you would have failed. I mean at that "borderline" point when the pass/fail margin is so thin, you may be passing just out of luck, just like you were "unlucky" to miss those 10 questions....which is kind of a lot on an exam, by the way. If you think you've mastered it based on a borderline performance, I would say there's a better chance you haven't. I don't mean to be harsh, but like I said, something's not up to par, and you probably should figure out what that is and make an improvement. We've all got to do that now and again.
     
  20. Law2Doc

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    Another year's tuition is actually quite cheap if it means the OP is back on track to do well in second year and the boards. Could open doors to more potential specialties down the road. Rushing to second year without the skills needed to succeed in that year is NOT nothing to lose. It's actually a ton to lose. Most schools use summer remediation for some group of students, but require entire year repetition for others, based on experience with students and who needs the additional time. Doing poorly in one class while acing other may be a fluke that can be ignored with a satisfactory summer retake. Someone who fails one class and struggles in others isn't showing evidence of a fluke and requires more time to work through their hurdles.
    Talk to the dean, but in the end, do what they suggest will most likely result in your success. Success is the goal, not just getting through fast and ugly.
     
  21. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant
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    Are you going to be toeing the line next year if they let you move on to MS2? Regardless of what the school thinks is best for you based on your performance in your first year, you need to really assess what is causing you to fail these courses in the first place. If you think you have a grasp on the material and its just that family problems are causing your exam skills to go down the toilet then you better make sure that those family problems are taken care of, or at least dealt with better by you, in your next year of medical school (whether it be MS1 or MS2). If you don't have a gameplan for next year in terms of dealing with your family problems then it might not even be worth it to restart back up at MS1 (and end up paying tons of $$ with the chance of ending up in the same position you are now AGAIN one year from now). Flopotomist referred to the school playing the "take a sabbatical" card and that may actually be better for you if you're not ready to move on. Rather than retaking MS1 and maybe toeing the line all over again I'd personally rather talk to the school, see if I can take a 1 year leave of absense to get my sh1t figured out and then move onto MS2. They say they've had success with having students repeat, but that doesn't mean that a different plan of action that they haven't tried won't be successful either.
     
  22. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Totally disagree.

    I barely passed anatomy, physio and neuroanatomy as an MS1. Why- because I cannot visualize worth a damn. I have no visual-spatial ability and 1st year just sucked. I ended up getting 20-25 points higher in my path and micro/immuno courses because my clinical reasoning skills were well-developed and am doing really well in third year. Everybody has different skill sets and abilities.

    Keep in mind that at some schools, grades are on a curve and it is much easier for people who have had the material once (or more) before. Second year was so so much better for me because much fewer of my classmates had courses in path, micro/immuno or pharm as compared to anatomy, physio and molecular bio. People who did not have to work that hard in MS1 to get Honors or high pass with commendation had to work much harder to pass and harder still to get the higher grades. I thought MS2 was way easier than MS1and I loved it.
     
  23. Law2Doc

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    While I agree that second year provides a different set of challenges, I think a big part of why it was "way easier" for a lot of us was because of the studying skills many developed in the first year. A lot of people learn by trial and error, and so sure, the initial anatomy class might be hard for some, but as they get used to the pace, perhaps they struggle less in the next class and so on. Someone who continues to have failures and struggling late in the first year perhaps demonstrates that they haven't locked down the study survival skills necessary to have a "way easier" second year though. And the volume and pace in second year is undeniably increased. It just seems easier because (1) you know what you need to do to get through the material, and (2) it's no longer something strange and new. I think the OP's administration is suggesting that the OP hasn't demonstrated #1 to their satisfaction.
     
  24. OncoCaP

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    Your reasons for failing & barely passing don't come across as very strong and that might be something to take into consideration. It would be appropriate for you to politely ask what all your options are and express your desire to take an exam for that class you failed to show that you can pass it or just to proceed to 2nd year and come back to take the exams for the class that you failed. Just be nice about it and realize that you might not get that chance.

    If you feel like you know the material and are extremely confident you could pass another test in the class that you failed, you should bring that up with the administration ... however, you better be right. It would look really bad if you didn't take their advice and then failed ... again. I have had basically this same discussion with a couple of students on SDN who were in situations somewhat similar to yours (but with better sounding reasons) and they were glad they pushed to move onward. It just doesn't seem to be worth it to repeat the year if you can avoid it from what I have been told by these two students. If you have no choice, well, then you have no choice.
     
  25. GreenShirt

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    Repeating an entire year for failing one class is harsh. At my school we're allowed two repeat one course over the summer and two means a repeat of the entire year. It seems that the op is capable of doing well when they apply themselves so it's not a matter of someone who just doesn't have the basic brain capacity to keep up with medical school.
     
  26. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin
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    I think your decision should depend at least partially on which class you failed. I didnt see if you posted which classes were the fail and the marginal pass in. Which are they if you dont mind posting that?

    If we are talking about embryo, genetics, or anatomy I think you have less to worry about than if we are talking about Physio and biochem, especially physio.
     
  27. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    Just a thought: could you ask the Dean to allow you to retake just the two courses you did poorly in, while working towards a second degree such as an MPH? The dean might be willing to compromise at least that far, even if he/she won't just let you remediate over the summer, and then you at least won't have to waste the entire year.
     
  28. scuba2

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    I don't know if this will help the OP or not, but I repeated MS1 at a top ten school. Yes, I did suffer much grief over it (went through the entire denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance phase). And another year of tuition. But personally I think it was worth it - I was in the top half of the following year's class. I also had some amazing opportunities due to the more time I had the next year.

    Just my 0.02, but I didn't see any replies from students who had repeated a year in this thread thus far.
     
  29. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    Hey Law. I understand your point that some students find 2nd year easier because they have mastered study skills/techniques. However, most of the students that I know did not feel that 2nd year was easier. Rather they felt 1st year was easier and well they should since so many of them had seen the material before. Perhaps it was that they did not have to learn the study skills that you mentioned some of us develop/hone in 1st year.

    Like you I was an attorney and my study skills were already well-developed prior to medical school and did not change at all from 1st to 2nd year. The difference between 1st and 2nd year for me was that finally the information was interesting and clinically relevant and did not require visual-spatial skills. I need context in which to remember thousands of names and details (i.e., why should I care? why do I need to know this?) I also can't visualize worth a damn so the more conceptual/clinical a topic is the better for me. Ditto the more case-like/puzzle-like as my skills include pattern recognition.

    I would have preferred to spend all four years of medical school doing practical rotations like what we see in 3rd and 4th year as I learn and remember way more this way than trying to memorize useless details from a textbook. Anatomy while learned during surgery would have been so much more memorable.
     
  30. clandestino

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    i took leave from school during my first go at first year, worked, and then came back to repeat the first year. i can tell you the idea of having to repeat really stinks, and i even said at one point that i wouldn't do it over if i had to. ultimately though, i made my choice to take leave and come back fresh. after getting back into school for the 2nd go, it's been a world of a difference. my grades are little bit better, i'm not by any means at the top, but my understanding of everything is a heck of a lot better. i feel like i've grown up a lot. it is not the worst thing in the world to have to do, and if people think badly of you, well, that's their problem. honestly, if you truly want to be a doctor, repeating a year isn't anything bad.

    if i were you, i'd be talking to the appropriate folks in the administration, and whatever decision they make for you, just take it. at least they're not talking of actually dismissing you. don't give up, and do what you need to do.

    also, don't let your friends, family, or SDN people make you feel stupid. everybody has their own story and reasons and ways of dealing with things.
     
  31. DrButtercup

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    I failed a class my first year of medical school (due in some part to a series of personal events) and was able to complete a retake exam over the summer. I don't think that it would have been a benefit for me to retake the whole year over again. I went on to pass every single exam I took in second year and every shelf exam in third year. It can be done. But, my personal problems were temporary and weren't a factor after first year. I think you really need to find a way to resolve or better manage your family issues. Otherwise, they will interfere time and time again. You also have to remember that you will need a good explanation for repeating an entire year when I comes time to apply for residency. Talk with the appropriate faculty about all of your concerns reguarding repeating first year and why you think you will be more successful in second year. Ultimately if repeating the year is your only choice then you have to do it. This is a tough situation and I hope everything works out for you!
     
  32. Orthodoc40

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    Does your school have no remediation exams? If it is one class of not passing by half a point, it is hard to justify another year of school.

    While they usually have your best success in mind, sometimes they can be wrong - they are going by a general formula they use for ANY person in your situation, I am guessing. And yah, you might be different.

    Still, you don't want to get on their bad sides. If you fail something else, and have to explain it, they are going to ask you, "Why didn't you take the advice you were given previously?" and they won't be happy about it.
     
  33. Orthodoc40

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    Wow - you're highlighting my entire 1st year struggles! I sure hope it's better second year...
     
  34. Orthodoc40

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    And at least at our school, the stakes are higher 2nd year. 1 test per domain. Fail it - try to remediate once. Don't pass remediation - no Step 1 for you because you're gonna have to retake that domain which isn't offered again til next year.
     
  35. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    I'll think good thoughts for you orthodoc. 3rd year will be even better than 2nd year and so on.

    It is interesting that your name has orthopedics implied in it as spatial orientation and anatomy tends to be extremely important for that field. :oops:
     
  36. Orthodoc40

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    Thanks, I'll need the help, too!! Yah, we'll see if I end up pursuing ortho anyway, It was the first interest that got me into medicine.

    But the spatial orientation thing isn't exactly what is tough for me physically - its when you have to take a concept or bunch of words or ideas about what's happening physiologically and try to see it as a picture. If you could see it, it would all come together and make sense, I think. LOL! But nothing doing so far on that track! It just stays unconnected and confusing. And you still wonder "Why like that and not like that?" , "What if this, would it be different?" and "Does that really matter to me?" :rolleyes:
     
  37. Strength&Speed

    Strength&Speed Need more speed......
    10+ Year Member

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    Yeah, don't sweat it. Repeating a year isn't the worst thing. In some ways I wish I could have repeated 2nd year, even though I didn't need to, just because I felt it would have given me a better grasp of the material. Sounds like your social life is busy and maybe the year will be helpful for you to slow down and get it figured out. The biggest hurdle is the embarrassment but take this as an opportunity. You may find yourself ahead of other classmates. Also, ask the 2nd years about stuff to expect. You can probably knock out year 1 with some confidence if you start doing well and hit 2nd year strong that way. You have a ways to go so getting your feet set is not a bad plan.
     
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  38. petrosgp

    2+ Year Member

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    He is probably an attending by now. :laugh:
     
    Crayola227 likes this.
  39. Crayola227

    Crayola227 Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
    Physician 2+ Year Member

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    Awesome necrobump.

    8 years, done by a poster with 12 years and only 700 posts to his name.

    But to be fair, this was a necrobump of kindness.

    Fistbump, brah.
     
  40. username456789

    7+ Year Member

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    Attending Physician
    So 6?
     
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