blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: January 2014

January 27, 2014

Studying for Step 1

Any of you in your second year of medical school are probably getting deep and dirty into Step 1 studying. I apologize if it seems like this post is coming late, but in all honesty this is around the time I started actually studying for Step 1 (and trust me when I tell you it's definitely not late). I'll start by saying that much of the preparation begins during your first and second year classwork, so doing well then will definitely be helpful now! But that's by no means enough to do well, so in this post I'll outline the resources I used when studying for Step 1!

A few useful numbers for Step 1 - a passing score just recently (this January) got bumped up to 192, the average score of those who pass is in the 220s, and the average for the super competitive specialties is in the 240s and up. I scored well enough to keep myself in the running for the super competitive specialties, so I'm hoping you'll find some of these quick points helpful! As always feel free to ask questions in the comments below, and happy studying!

First Aid for Step 1 - This is sort of the backbone to any Step 1 study plan. I'd memorize it (haha so easy to say, right)? I read this book multiple times, first by subject (and read the same subject in Goljan), then just repeated to solidify facts. 

Goljan Pathology - Another review book, this was a great addition to First Aid. I also used the Goljan audio lectures for "downtime" studying - listening when on the train or in the gym. They're great lectures although this type of "passive" studying isn't the most efficient. If anything it helped me feel less guilty about spending time in the gym or cooking myself a fancy dinner :) Most days were spent initially getting through these two books subject by subject. Then came the Q bank. 

USMLE World QBank - There's some debate about which Qbank to go with (Kaplan vs UWorld), and in my opinion, UWorld was much better. If you're someone who learns from questions,  you'll appreciate the explanations provided by UWorld - I felt they were superior to Kaplan's (but I'll also admit I only did a few Kaplan questions before not liking it too much). Some people do questions by subject as well, but I wasn't a fan of that method (if you're doing cardiology questions, and happen upon a question that seems to have nothing to with cardiology except for one answer choice, well there's your answer)! Some people bought both, and if you want to do so that'd be fine - in that case I would do the Kaplan questions by subject after I studied each respective subject and save the World questions for random order. Make sure to do all of the Qbank questions, you can have all the books you want memorized but you need to familiarize yourself with how these questions are actually asked. And really pay attention to what you're getting wrong and understand why. Some of my classmates annotated their First Aid books with details from questions. I personally found this a bit excessive, and instead opted to review the key "learning objectives" at the bottom of each question the last week before my exam. A three month subscription was perfect. 

Make sure to take a practice test a few weeks before your scheduled exam- if you're where you want to be score-wise, bump up the date and take it sooner! There's definitely a peak of knowledge so to speak, and a burn out period that comes after, so know where you are and use it to your advantage. 

Also, if you're school still follows a more traditional curriculum, you'll likely be headed into clinical rotations right after finishing the boards. So please, take a vacation!!! I could have studied for another two weeks, but (after following the advice in the previous paragraph), I took my test and then went on vacation!! I also took the day before my test completely off to help relax pre-test day jitters (although if not studying will only freak you out more, a little light review won't hurt). 

January 22, 2014

Pieces of Plaid

A simple outfit I wore a few days ago on a (relatively) mild rainy day - crazy that today we're under inches of snow!! 

Marshall's plaid studded top (similar here), Vigoss jeans (similar here), Cole Haan trench coat (similar J. crew version here for 40% off today with code BYEWINTER), Guess pumps (similar here)

January 17, 2014

Baby Products for a Small Space

When we found out we were pregnant with Liv we immediately started looking for a 2 bedroom apartment. All babies need their own nursery, right? When we soon realized the up-front costs of moving were just a little too much to feel "worth it," we decided we'd make it work in our little one bedroom for the first year (and boy is it little - the rent on the other hand, is not.) Four months in and we still feel like we've got plenty of room, and we have a few of these products to thank for helping prevent the inevitable baby takeover that happens in all homes with new kiddos. 

  1. Summer Infant Resting Up Portable Napper - This little bouncer has been awesome these first few months - Liv loves hanging out in it and watching what I'm doing, and it's so light that I just carry it with me from room to room. The best part is that it folds flat when I'm not using it so we can keep it hidden under the couch!
  2.  DaVinci Alpha Mini Rocking Crib - I never realized how colossal cribs were until I went "shopping" for things for my baby shower registry. Holy cow why are they so big! This mini crib was so perfect for our room and Liv gets to sleep right next us.
  3. Puj Flyte - Liv had her first bath in this beautifully crafted little bath and we just now (at 4 months) stopped using it because she's getting a little too big for baths in the sink. But this tub was amazing - it folds completely flat and fit in the tiniest little unused space next to our sink.
  4. Wooden Hamper - We keep a hamper just like this one in a corner of our living room and use it to store our boppy pillow, activity mat, blankets, and bigger toys. It's all out of sight when we're not using it!
  5. Spinning Drying Rack - I love this drying rack. After I've sanitized my bottles and other bits I put them on this rack that I keep on top of the fridge. A great space-saver compared to other racks I've seen. 
  6. KidCo Go Pod - This is our newest addition to the apartment, and Liv loves it! We can attach all of her favorite toys to it and swap them as they change, then fold it up (sort of like a lawn chair) to go to the park (at least that's my plan once it's warmer!), to abuela's house, or to store it away. 
  7. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym - This is still one of Liv's favorite, and mine too. It easily disassembles - the arches lie straight and I just keep in a corner by the curtains (barely noticeable), and the mat I keep in the hamper. 
Any products you've used that help save space? Of course, the best "space saving" product is no product at all!! But these have been sort of essential ;)

January 8, 2014

Slow down

Last night after getting home from work Liv and I had a long talk. Of course we didn't really talk, but I spoke and she exchanged with loud babbles - the days of soft cooing and grunting are over and this girl knows how to use her vocal cords. I picked her up for bath time and she wrapped both arms around my neck, immediately grasping a handful of my messy hair with her left hand. In the bath she laughed and let me get under her armpits, holding her toy so agilely with both hands. When did this baby girl of mine become this able almost-4-month-old? As if Isabel knew the strokes of passing time were hitting me harder that night, she emailed me with photos from Liv's 3 month session, and oh man was I blown away - with the differences from 3 weeks (top) and 3 months (bottom), and even the differences from her 3 month photos and now! Slow down, time, be kind to this (now working) mama. Of course, this is the plea of all parents, but that is just what children do - grow. And although it happens seemingly too quickly, it is such a beautiful thing, and so lovely to have pictures to help with memories of what was only months ago. 

{Of course, mama never planned on being in any of these photos so I'm a mess, but Liv is precious as ever!}

January 3, 2014

New Year, New Direction?

Happy Friday and happy 2014! This is my last Friday of maternity leave - I go back to work on Monday - it's going to mark a bittersweet change for me! It also means I'll be trying to get back to doing more outfit posts, although I must admit, after having Liv I feel like the focus of the blog may change a bit. We'll see where it goes but I hope that you all will stick with me either way! I'll continue with Med School Mondays, they're some of my favorite posts as I feel like they're helping you guys the most, although they won't be every Monday. we'll see what else will end up on the blog in 2014! Would love to hear in the comments section what you all want to see! This look below was worn for an amazing girls night/gift exhange dinner with some of my besties! We went all out with delicious tapas!

Marshall's top (almost exact top on CRAZY sale here!), Forever 21 wax jeans (similar here), Charlotte Russe platform booties (similar here), boutique necklace (similar here)
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