David Lee, MD, a fourth-year otolaryngology resident at University of Cincinnati Medical School in Ohio, felt the pressure to do as well as possible on Step 1. “I really don’t think I can speak for anyone else,” he said, “but if an applicant knows they want to do otolaryngology, then knowing it is one of the most competitive specialties and the Step 1 score is one of the most consistent factors that residencies use, the otolaryngology residency applicant needs do what they feel necessary to match.”
tacey T. Gray, MD, program director of the otolaryngology residency program at Harvard, said the issues at hand highlight the fact that there should be a more in-depth conversation between students and the people who are in the position of creating assessment examinations so that students better understand what is being assessed and why it is important to the field of medicine. “I think if students better understood how scores were being used to assess their application for residency, there would be less anxiety about the match process. As educators, being open to a conversation with our students about their concerns is crucial, as they represent the future of this specialty and will ultimately be the educators in the next generation,” she said.
While many physicians a generation ago prepared for Step 1 on their own in just a couple of weeks while also attending medical school classes, students today are taking a different route, some even taking time off from their med school classes entirely. “I spent six weeks [studying] for Step 1 solely,” said. Dr. Lee. “I went and stayed with family in the country and lived and breathed Step 1 for the entire time.”