HomeMS2For MS2s: Winter Quarter 2024 and Step 1 success

For MS2s: Winter Quarter 2024 and Step 1 success

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From an email by Heather McPhillips, M.D., MPH, associate dean for Curriculum, UWSOM:

We look forward to supporting you in the coming months as you transition from Foundations to Step 1 and prepare for clerkships. As part of the 2022 Curriculum Renewal, we have updated our Consolidation & Transition phase.  This email is long, but should contain the information you need for now. Please save it as a reference.

You may have heard that in November during integration week instead of the CBSE exam that is put out by the boards, you will be taking a CAS exam.  This is also a NBME (board) exam but we are able to remove the reproduction and development content for the most part as you haven’t learned that yet.  We instead will be offering a similar boards practice test from NBME in January called the CBSSA after you all have had a few weeks to review in consolidation.  More details to come.

For winter quarter 2024, all students in the E22 class planning to enter the patient care phase in 2024-25 academic year will register for 10 credit course “Consolidation” and a 2 credit “Transition to Clerkship” course.  Step 1 deadline is March 1.

For more details the remainder of this Email will cover:

  • Consolidation Course Overview & Requirements
  • Transition to Clerkships Overview & Requirements
  • Step 1 Deadline Summary
  • Summer Step 1 Advanced Study Course (SASC) Information
  • Information for Students in LIC/WRITE
  • Consolidation Course FAQs

Consolidation Course Overview & Requirements

The Consolidation course is your dedicated Step 1 study period. It is January 2-March 1 (9 weeks). This course is entirely online/distance learning and aims to offer individualized levels of support to students based on their preparedness for USMLE Step 1. 

We want to acknowledge the anxiety around high-stakes standardized testing such as the USMLE Step 1. We believe our curriculum prepares all our students to pass Step 1.  The addition of AMBOSS and integration weeks has furthered that preparedness for the E22 class and we believe you all are further along in your Step 1 readiness than previous classes because of these additions as well as the summer Step 1 study you did.  It is a cumulative exam of all foundational science.  You have become experts in exams over the past year+ and while we want you to be ready to study hard (it is a tough exam), we also want to support you as you review and cement your learning prior to entering patient care. 

In updating the Consolidation course, we have used the literature, past student experiences, an equity lens and our own expertise to develop some evidence-based and experience-based approaches to preparing all students to succeed in passing this exam. We acknowledge that students have different needs and require different levels of support and time, and have developed a flexible curriculum for you.

Studies have shown that students who study between 8-10 hours per day for 6 days per week are best prepared for Step 1.  If you are able to commit 6-10 weeks of this full time focus, you will most likely be prepared.  Fewer daily hours studying or more daily hours studying may impact performance.  Students should be prepared to treat Step 1 preparation as a full time job for 6-10 weeks of winter quarter depending on their level of preparation and/or comfort with high stakes exams when entering consolidation.

We recognize that some of you have other responsibilities such as care-taking, work, research, etc.  Please work with your support system to identify how to best preserve time for this study period and reach out to us with any questions or to discuss more.

Course structure:

  1. January 2 – January 26: 4 weeks of structured content review. The detailed schedule will be available later this fall. These sessions are recommended but not required.
  • Each week will have ~20 hours of online content that includes 1) topic review using live question-based interactive review strategies led by faculty, 2) assigned practice questions curated by faculty, 3) live review sessions going over blocks of practice questions led by student tutors (Teaching Assistants), and 4) live sessions on test taking and study strategies, wellness, and anxiety.
  • Students are expected to study independently during these weeks at least 40 hours/week according to a schedule set by themselves and the learning specialists, informed by their Foundations and practice test performance.
  1. January 29: All students will be asked to take an NBME practice test (CBSSA) by 1/29/24. These tests will be purchased by the school. Submission is required. TAs will be available that week to review content and work with students individually or in small groups to review.
  • Following receipt of your CBSSA score and review of your performance in Foundations, all students will be offered different tracks to study for the next 5ish weeks.  One track will offer structure and more support with group and individual tutoring and faculty support.  The other will be independent study.  Students will be offered information on which track is recommended but have the option to choose what works best for them as adult learners.  This is all part of consolidation (no new course to register for or tuition to pay).
  1. March 1: School deadline for USMLE Step 1. Students who are not ready to take the exam by this date (as evidenced by practice scores or per discussion with their learning specialist) will be automatically dropped from their summer quarter clerkships and will be asked to enroll in STEP 1 Advanced Study Course (SASC).  They will continue with Transition to Clerkships and previously planned Spring Quarter clerkships.  Students with extenuating circumstances unrelated to test readiness (weather, illness) will be allowed a one-week grace period to meet the deadline. Students who do not take the exam on/by March 8th will be automatically dropped from their summer quarter clerkships and will be asked to enroll in STEP 1 Advanced Study Course (SASC).  They will continue with Transition to Clerkships and previously planned Spring Quarter clerkships. 

Transition to Clerkships Overview & Requirements

The Transition to Clerkships course is held March 8-15, 2024. This required course is also exclusively online and is a well-received review of practical and clinical information to get you ready and excited for Patient Care phase. Expect to spend approximately 20 hours on course content over those days. Much of the course requires live attendance but you can choose which sessions to attend based on your interests and schedule.  E22 MSTP students will not take Transitions to Clerkships in 2024 but will take it when they are entering Patient Care phase. You will receive more information about this course schedule later in the fall.

Summer Step 1 Advanced Study Course (SASC) Information

The SASC will be a 12-credit course.  This course will provide additional independent review time for approximately 50 hours per week, as well as weekly individual check-ins with assigned staff or faculty mentor and peer-led weekly meetings to address challenges and study questions.  Learning communities are a valuable tool to introduce structure, connection, and academic success, particularly for students who require additional time to study. Students will be granted credit towards graduation for this course (equivalent to a 4 week clinical elective)

If a student would like to take Step 1 prior to SASC, and they score at least a 66% on a practice test, the student may proceed with taking Step 1.  If the student takes Step 1 and wishes to drop SASC and re-enroll in an available clerkship or elective experience, they may do so after taking Step 1. 

Similarly, if a student reached preparedness to take Step 1 but was precluded from doing so due to a health, personal or family emergency, they will follow the timeline above that will also apply to SASC students.

Information for Students in LIC/WRITE

Students starting longitudinal components of LIC or WRITE in Spring quarter:  If Step 1 not taken by 3/1/24, the student can complete the longitudinal component of clerkship but quarter after that will be dropped.  Please work with your learning specialist and Foundation Dean if you feel you may need more preparation time for Step 1 to get help with your clinical schedule preferencing.

Consolidation FAQs:

Q: What if I don’t want to participate in any structured review of Step 1 content and am confident in my approach?

A: That is fine. You are still required to submit an NBME practice test for course credit, however.

Q: How do I know any of the content reviews will be any good?

A: All content reviews have been highly rated by prior students and use evidence-based principles of information retrieval. We have restructured the course to better integrate review sessions into your study and have added additional cumulative practice questions and question review.  Any session which scores <4.5/5 on student feedback averages is revised for the next year.

Q: What if I want to take my UW-provided NBME practice test earlier than 1/29?

A: You may do so. We recommend all students work with their learning specialists on the timing of their practice exams. Students should plan to take at least one (but ideally more than one) additional NBME CBSSA practice exam prior to taking Step 1.  A passing threshold in the practice exam of >66% correct indicates readiness to successfully take Step 1 based on previous data from our school for most students.  Students who score lower than this threshold should continue to prepare for Step 1 until they are able to obtain this score on any of the NBME CBSSA or equivalent markers as determined by your learning specialist.

Q: What if I wasn’t ready to take Step 1 on March 1, but believe I only need another couple weeks to study?

A: We have found that many students who are not ready to take Step 1 after 9-10 weeks of dedicated study benefit from a break and a chance to participate in clinical work. However, some students will wish to take Step 1 shortly after the deadline; those students who successfully take Step 1 during spring quarter will be invited to re-register for summer quarter clerkships.

Q: I am anticipating it may take me longer than winter quarter to be ready to take Step 1. What should I do?

A: For those who anticipate it may take longer to complete Step 1 study (e.g. standardized-test-taking is not a strength; 1 or more block or thread remediations) we encourage you to submit EVOS preferences for electives blocks in Summer A or B because delays will be less disruptive to your schedules.

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