Olga Vallenberg USMLE Step 2CS Experience



Hello All!
It’s time to share my experience.
I took my first CS exam in May 2018 in Philly and I failed CIS part. I can’t blame the test center. The half of my cases I was not sure with diagnosis and patients were hard to work with.
I started my prep at that time after I got CK results and I had 1,5 months for prep and worked with 5 study partners on Skype. During the exam I did not feel confident but overall after exam I felt good. When I got the result I was upset but decided to work on my mistakes which I had a lot. Stupid small things like asking for permission to untie gown or forgetting to counsel on smoking. On my test day, there were 2 IMG and the rest AMG.
So I got a job in clinical research and as a part of the job I had to work side by side with doctors and patients every day. Phlebotomy and blood processing are also part of my job. I built my confidence in patient interaction. Also, I had many opportunities to see how doctors work with a patient and I can tell for sure that it’s very different from what I was taught in the past.
One of the doctors (who is also IMG) in a clinic suggested his help to train me how to approach patient and where to pay attention. I agreed and followed him closely for a day. It was very informative and helpful.
Also, what I found helpful in Kaplan book – the interview part explained in great details and I found a lot of useful information for myself although that book is useless case wise.
I worked full time and I agreed with my boss to take the 1 week off to concentrate on my preparation.
The month before the exam date I started to refresh my memory with small cases from FA on weekends and during the weekdays I worked on long cases with my husband (he has nothing to do with medicine). I did not have any SP online.
So the first day of my dedicated week off I was driving to shadow one of the doctors in a clinic and I was rear-ended in traffic. At that time I was 14 weeks pregnant. The driver behind me was blinded by the sunrise and he hit me on a 55 miles per hour in a back while I was stopped. My rear bumper was completely gone, car not drivable and I was taken to the hospital by the ambulance because I lost consciousness. I was checked in a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion. My primary care physician insisted on cancellation of my exam and even provided me with a note for ECFMG but I decided to take my chance.
So a week later I was in Chicago taking my test. I traveled with my husband which was a huge help because I had concussion symptoms and also I was pregnant in a first trimester at that time. We stopped in Chicago O’Hare near the test center which was nice. On an exam day, I was not nervous. Exam center people were very friendly and were joking about something. Most of the students were IMGs. Only a few AMGs. Standard orientation was done and the exam started. All cases were very straight forward, although I did have one case where I had to guess. But overall – SPs were very helpful. I did not allow as many mistakes as the previous time. I was confident and answered all of SP’s questions. Although, the last case I completely forgot to include CVS exam in my note and when I noticed that it was too late. Also, before exam, I took some medication to prevent nausea and vomiting but I felt really nauseous at the end. After the exam, I felt really good and confident.
A 3 days before result release I found FSMB trick but it did not work for me. So it got me worried. Then on Tuesday, I found the post on student network that it was fixed and now we can find our results only 8 hours before the official release. So first thing on Wednesday I checked if the system would let me register for step 3 and IT DID. I was happy but not sure about the result. Then I checked my OASIS and the result was there. I PASSED. Although email with result came in 20 minutes later.
Only today I was cleared to go back to work part-time because I had a severe memory deficit and balance issue due to a concussion. I went through a rehab program in a hospital to regain my balance and ability to drive. It was a huge risk to take that exam in my condition but it all worked out good.
Sorry for a long post. I hope it was helpful for somebody. Let me know if you have any questions.

October 13, 2019
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