As we have said many times, studying and mastering clinical medicine is not a one size fits all approach. The following article focuses on an approach that would likely benefit very high performing students with minimal need for aggressive reading during Step 2 CK preparation OR a student with a limited amount of time that does not amend itself to completing Step Up To Medicine AND the UWorld Question Bank. For others, this post should highlight that the Online Med Ed videos can be very helpful adjuncts while reading and completing your question bank.
Finally, this post operates under the assumption that you will also be completing UWorld for Step 2 CK at least once, and preferably twice. Regardless of how you learn, questions are an invaluable resource that can help you master the clinical content and test taking strategies necessary for optimal performance.
With Step 1, third year clerkships, and fourth year subinternships behind me, it was time to study for and crush my Step 2 CK. Yet no one had told me of the gold standard resource that would become my holy bible as I prepared for the next USMLE round.
I heard sayings such as “First Aid is too general,” “Master the Boards is too detailed,” and “everything you need to know for Step 2 you learned in third year.” If these were all true, how would I prepare for Step 2? I needed a sound, reliable resource that could guide me alongside UWorld.
Case Files and Pretest seemed too case-specific. I bought a copy of First Aid for the USMLE Step 2CK, but my colleagues were right—it is too general. It’s more of a "How To Succeed in Third Year Clinical Rotations" resource than an "Excel On Step 2 CK" resource. I still desired that all-encompassing resource that I could rely on to help me master the content with longitudinal repetition after coming off of clerkship blocks.
I couldn’t find my all-encompassing resource in text form, and let’s be honest: when I came off of my last orthopedic surgery subinternship, I hadn’t seen a patient with a COPD exacerbation in nearly 18 months! How could I relearn the management of the patient in such a short period of time? So I did what any other reasonable student would do, and turned to Google. There, I stumbled upon a miracle. An attending by the name of Dustyn Williams, MD, had created the “Pathoma for Step 2” at OnlineMedEd.org.
Dr. Williams’ videos consist of short 10-15 minute chalk talks of physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and patient management pertaining to everything clinical medicine from Acute Coronary Syndrome to Sleep Cycle Disturbances. OnlineMedEd was my saving grace. I used it alongside UWorld blocks and random, timed mode to study for Step 2 CK. Every week I took an NBME practice exam and watched as my score continued to climb.
I decided to watch each video twice — the first pass I took notes on everything Dr. Williams said was an examiner favorite. In essence, these notes became my First Aid. I studied from them, made flashcards out of them, and even annotated them with supplemental material from UWorld question blocks. Then, I watched the videos a second time, but this time, I just listened and gleaned every piece of advice he scribbled on his chalk board. By this time, I had completed UWorld twice, watched OnlineMedEd videos twice, and taken four NBME practice examinations.
After four weeks of six-to-eight-hours-per-day preparation, I was ready to take Step 2 CK. My score just missed my stellar Step 1 score, but I was exhilarated. I owe it to Dr. Williams and UWorld.
With that said though,remember that the worst mistake you can make while studying is jumping around from resource to resource. If you, like many of my colleagues, desire that hard copy text form, then pick one resource like First Aid, Master the Boards, or Step Up to Step 2, and stick with it. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but are essentially on par with each other for Step 2 CK. It's all about finding what works best for you. Good luck!
Looking for additional Step 2 CK resources? Read on!