did you notice a change in your classmates/close friends when starting M2 year? it seems that the stress of Step 1 has changed my core group of friends and they are all incredibly sensitive and hyper-competitive, even going to the extent of judging u badly if u happen to not know an answer to a question as u study together. some of them even lie about how much they study. what changes did you notice in your classmates? its kind of bizarre/scary to think that these people will become doctors.
I ABSOLUTELY SAW THIS HAPPEN. This is a real phenomenon.
I call it…Step 1-induced gunnerhea
A lot of people are their worst selves when they study for Step 1. This is largely due to the fact that Step 1 can determine a LOT of your future, especially if you’re interested in competitive fields. Many poorly informed individuals believe that Step 1 is correlated with intelligence and your skill as a physician. Not so. ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS WRONG.
Symptoms you are observing in your friends are very common. Other symptoms to watch out for as well:
- frequently letting you and others know how much they hate their life or are studying for Step 1
- Judging those who want to take a day off and TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE
- Boasting about things that should not be considered impressive (“haven’t shaved in a month man, isn’t my beard disgusting?” “I like…eat string cheese for lunch. Haha I’m so dedicated!!”)
- Freaking others out intentionally or otherwise (I only did four question sets today, I’m gonna failllllll. How many did you do today?)
Signs of Step 1-induced gunnerhea include:
- FML sign: they go onto facebook or other social media and boast about all the work they’ve done but are all ‘woe-is-me’ or ‘fml lolllll’
- Word-triggered verbal tic: A word in normal conversation, on television, or on a tumblr post will take them back to a Step 1 concept, and they will recite everything they know (ex. say ‘tetracycline’ to someone in the process of studying for Step 1. Watch the magic.)
- Study sign: They cannot go anywhere without either some flashcards, do some Qbank questions, or a small notebook with review notes
How to protect yourself from Step-1 induced gunnerhea:
- Given the contagious nature, avoid these individuals until your own test is done.
- Stay away from areas such as campus libraries and other well-known study hangouts of the diseased. You will gain nothing from being there.
- Take care of yourself. Do not glorify the lack of showers, eating junk food, not going to the gym, self-pitying facebook status updates. A strong, healthy you is more likely to have the stamina and mental fortitude to complete the test and not come out the other side angry, disgusted, burned-out
- Make peace with the fact that, while this is usually a transient condition, some friends will eventually become chronic sufferers of gunnerhea. I promise that, while it sucks, you’ll find better friends.
- Have post Step 1 victory plans. Be it travel, fancy dinner, Netflix marathon, WHATEVER. Have something to look forward to when it’s all over
- Utilize medblrs! You’re not in this alone. A study I have performed only in my head says that occasionally venting to medblrs reduces the risk of contracting gunnerhea by 75% (md-admissions, 2014).
- Do not confuse working hard with gunnerhea. Work hard, but take care of yourself. Be supportive and surround yourselves with those who have not fallen too far like Gollum to The (step) One Ring. The investment you make will be worth it!