In the past, Term 5 used to consist of pharmacology and pathophysiology with separate tests, as well as CBSE and BSCE. We were the first term to start covering pharm in term 4, so our term 5 was going to be different. In the first 5 weeks, we covered the remaining micro, pathology, and pharm, followed by our very last SGU written test. A big chunk of the material was neurology, bone, and pediatrics. Systemic infections were also included in this material. It felt like a continuation of term 4; it was the exact same routine we were used to.. small groups 1-2 a day, followed by class 1-3 pm Monday-Friday. I also attended Dr. Oke’s sessions for the first few weeks of term 5, because I found his lectures to be detrimental to my success at SGU, as well as, on the boards you take after term 5 (Step 1). We also started going to the hospital in term five. We got to see the Grenadian hospital, and visit clinics around the island. I’ll talk more about this in a separate blog.
After our last SGU test, we took a few days off to head to Carriacou. Carriacou is an even smaller island about a 2 hour ferry ride from Grenada. I will include more information on that another blog post. Long story short, it was nice to get away.
With the first 5 weeks of term five behind us, it was time to prepare for the BSCE. In previous terms, this test carried the weight of about 12-15% of your grade. For our term, since we had already completed all the subjects (except pathophysiology), our BSCE was worth 45 percent of our final term 5 grade. That’s a lot of weight on one exam, but I do believe it helped prepare me for my boards. After getting back from Carriacou, I started watching Boards and Beyonds with my weakest subjects first (Cardio and Neuro) and then making my way through each subject. After watching the videos, I would do the corresponding USMLE RX questions. In term five they give you a subscription for both UWORLD and a USMLE RX question bank. My goal was to make it through the USMLE RX question bank before leaving the island, and through the boards and beyonds videos. I saved UWORLD for Kansas IOMB program. Every now and then I would questions from UWORLD, but for the most part I focused on RX question bank. SGU also required that we do 12 or 14 RX quizzes with questions they picked for us, to ensure we were doing practice questions.
The BSCE in term 5 is twice as long as the BSCE in term 2. There is a morning and afternoon session. Since it had two parts, 1/2 of term 5 took the BSCE on a Tuesday, and the other half on a Wednesday, and I believe the two tests were different. They were both NBME based, so if you want to know what to expect, you can take a practice NBME. It is my personal opinion that in order to do well on NBME, BSCE, and CBSE, it is beneficial to have a strong “foundations to medicine” background. The material we learned in the first few weeks of term one comes back on these tests (Genetics, cellular organelles, Hardy Weinberg, etc). In order to do well, you have to come to a diagnosis, and understand the pathophysiology of the disease. Overall, I felt like the test was very similar in difficulty to term 2, and I scored about the same score.
After making it through BSCE… I headed home for a few weeks and surprised my family with the help of my sister. I planned on taking the IOMB course in Kansas, which started the Monday after our final the previous Friday. So, this few weeks spent at home was considered my “time off” before heading into dedicated step time. I had the best time with my niece and didn’t want to come back, but that was my last flight to Grenada, and that felt good. Also, I didn’t miss any lectures or small groups, so that I could stay home for a few weeks, and I highly recommend that. Very rewarding.
Some time in April I took a free AMBOSS step 1 predictor assessment. I really enjoyed using AMBOSS, and I felt it was very easy to navigate. The explanations were easy to understand, and it was also easy to look up additional information if you were still confused. I def recommend taking the assessment; one, its free and two, you can use it assess your weakness. After taking that, I spent my last few weeks on the island studying my weaknesses. We also had our last OSCE to prepare for. I believe it was three patients and three soap notes. By the end of term 5, it got easier and easier to go through the motions of the OSCE and feel less nervous.
Overall, term five allowed us to study for boards, while studying for CBSE and BSCE. I really enjoyed the change, and I felt grateful that we weren’t getting new information. The curriculum change has been nice. Learning all the pharmacology in term five (as it was in previous terms) seems like it would be a lot. So, it was nice to learn the pharm and micro along with the appropriate system. My advice is to grind this term out and learn as much as you can to prepare for STEP 1. Best of luck to everyone enduring this journey, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at all. Soon, I will be posting a STEP 1/IOMB Kansas preparation blog!