"Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows"

August 19, 2017

I remember every conversation I've ever had when I've learned about a loved one dying. I can recall exactly where I was, exactly who called, exactly what they said, and their exact tone of voice. 

My brother called me today to let me know my grandmother had died. We knew this was coming. She had been on hospice for several weeks. She had stopped eating much of anything. She stopped having the energy for conversation a long time ago. The last real conversation I had with her, she told me, "Tate, I'm dying. I'm ready to die." 



The process of dying looks different for every person. Sometimes it is short, other times it's prolonged. But there is one thing I do know - - it's never easy. 


The picture above was taken two years ago, on July 25, 2015, with my last remaining grandparents. With my parents divorce, I never had my grandparents together in one place until my white coat ceremony. This photo was taken by my mother - and it's so precious to me. 

In just over two years time, all three of my grandparents have died. In just two years. It all happened so fast. 

While I would never have imagined I would have watched all of my grandparents die in just two years, I am grateful. I am grateful for all they taught me. I am grateful for all the time they spent building relationships with me. I am grateful I have such vivid, sweet memories with them. I am grateful for what I've learned about death, dying, and grief. 

I have learned so much about how I process grief, as well as others around me. It's a lesson I never wished to learn so young, but I am thankful nonetheless. I have been reminded of the many faces of grief each time I lose a loved one, and it opens my heart be more understanding of others and the struggles they face. 
Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.
Moving into my clinical years, I hope to carry the lessons I've learned with me to help me be a more compassionate physician. I hope my heart remains full of empathy and understanding each time I work with family members losing a loved one. Death can bring every emotion to the surface, and we often have little control over the ebb and flow. One of the greatest lessons over the past two years has been learning how to ride the inevitable waves of emotion that come with each loss.

I will miss you, grams. You'll be in my heart forever. 


Resources for Level 1/Step 1 Board Exams

August 6, 2017

Now that I've survived my board exams, I wanted to take some time to post about my experience and how I prepared. I've had quite a few people reach out to me asking me questions about board prep, and before I delve into exactly what I did, I want to say a few things.
  • I'm writing about MY experience. Everyone's experience will be different and there is no "best way" to prepare for these exams. I am writing to share another perspective and to share some honest thoughts about what did and did not work for me during my study period. 
  • Everyone will have an opinion about what you "must" do. Take all advice with a grain of salt and be sure to design a plan that works best for YOU. 
  • I will not be sharing my scores for either exam, but I will say that I am very happy with my results. These resources and the study plan I share worked for me to reach my goals, but again, everyone's successful board prep will look different. 
I wanted to start off with a post to explain each of the resources I used before I go on to explain my study schedule. These are not ranked in any particular order. None of the links are affiliated, but I hope that by providing links it will help you find the specific products I'm referring to without any hassle. 


  • I referred to this during my second year courses. I did not take extensive notes in my first aid during my second year, mostly because the coursework was more detailed than what I would need to know for boards. I used this to supplement my learning. 
  • The only time I added notes to First Aid during my second year was when I would watch Pathoma. Notes from pathoma were specific to board exams, so I did take extra notes on Pathoma throughout the year. More on that in my study plan blog post!
  • I cut the binding off my First Aid and had spiral binding added to it so that I could easily take notes in it. This service is commonly offered at FedEx Office locations. 
  • I would recommend getting the book as well as the video lectures for Pathoma. Pathoma reviews the most high yield pathology for each system and all of his explanations are extremely helpful. I did Pathoma throughout my second year and used it throughout my dedicated study period for board exams. 
  • I used both of these throughout my second year of medical school and I cannot imagine medical school without it! 
  • SketchyMicro videos are much shorter than SketchyPharm videos, so I would recommend using SketchyPharm early on in order to really benefit from it. 
  • Using DIT is a huge financial commitment, but I am still very happy that I used this resource. I've received so many questions about DIT that I will plan to write a separate post to address all of the specific questions. 
  • This resource really isn't necessary for success on your boards, but I did use this for Step 1. 
  • Second semester of my second year, I felt like I wanted to start using a Qbank for board prep. I wasn't ready to shell out money for UWORLD and I still didn't feel like I was at a point in my studies to really benefit from UWORLD. USMLE RX was a perfect solution for me! 
  • I paid for 3 months of USMLE RX to have additional questions to use. I used them along with my systems courses and slowly started doing multi system questions. 
  • One thing I really loved about USMLE RX was that each answer explanation had links to the relevant pages in First Aid. 
  • This is the only resource on the list that is an ABSOLUTE MUST. You just can't do board prep without it. 
  • If you attend an osteopathic medical school, you will need to take the COMLEX board exams. This book is incredibly helpful to learn and review osteopathic medicine. 
  • I used this book throughout my first and second years of medical school, as well as during my board prep. This book has very helpful information and some practice tests at the end of the book as well. 
  • I did not find this Qbank to be particularly useful, but the osteopathic medicine questions were nice to use. I did all of the OMT questions in this Qbank, as well as all of the questions pertaining to ethics and statistics. 
  • I absolutely loved having Cram Fighter (and I'm actually still using it during third year). This program allows you to create a schedule for board prep that is all online and synced with apps on your phone. The program has almost every board prep resource you can imagine and you can effortlessly put together a study plan that tells you what you need to do each day. 
  • The best part? You can always edit the schedule to add days off, push back tasks that you didn't get to, and recalculate your schedule in a click of a button. This is every planner's dream, and every procrastinators worst nightmare. There's no denying what you need to get done each day when you use this program. I. LOVE. IT.


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Alright! That's it. Those are the nine most important resources I used throughout my second year of medical school and throughout my dedicated study period for board exams. Keep your eyes open for the rest of my posts about my study schedule, finding balance, and some of my best advice for tackling board exams! 


Monthly Update : July 2017

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July was a much better month for me than June. I finished my board exams in June (thank goodness) and I had some time off in July. It was great to sleep, relax, see people I love, etc! It was still tough for me though, because I had to wait weeks to get my scores back from my board exams. Those weeks were filled with a lot of anxiety for me - but I'm absolutely thrilled that I passed my exams! I was so nervous I had M check my scores for me. But you guys, I did it! I don't ever have to retake my Step 1 or Level 1 exam EVER again. Phew!

Besides all the anxiety, I got to go to the Pacific Northwest to travel with M and celebrate our one year anniversary. Without any cell phone service, we had an amazing time camping, hiking, kayaking, and enjoying each other's company. After weeks of studying for boards, it was incredible to be able to give him my undivided attention and spend some quality time together.


I had one week of school in July to help prepare my class for clinical rotations and more than anything, it was great to spend time with my classmates after the stress of board exams were behind us. Then in the final week of July, I got all my stuff moved for clinical rotations, attended orientation at the hospital I will be working at, and said hello to the beginning of my clinical years of medical school!

I'm really looking forward to all the things I will be learning out on clinical rotations. It's beginning to feel like all my hard work is going to be worth it in the end!




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