An ND I preceptored with in Maryland reflected on her board study period with the simple description of, “Oh boy, boards, that was the cleanest my house has ever been.” We both laughed at the ironic ways in which people respond to stress, for her tidiness was never a priority – until it came to crunch time. I forgot about that until-
today. I looked around my house and realized that I’ve followed in her footsteps. My house is unrecognizable, Everythings in it’s right place (props to you if you get that reference). There’s space to process and I relish in the therapeutic effects of bare floors and clarity of mind.
I’m looking forward to an adventure next Friday after my last exam, just me and a backpack and a whole lot of ocean.
Think about it.. No amount of school, studying or passing exams can make you a good doctor. It’s all about the practice of medicine itself.
One of the doctors I had the pleasure of shadowing this past year is a huge fan of walking meditation. In fact, he did an entire presentation on it this year at the AANP in Colorado. My hypnotherapist-RN mother taught me how to do walking meditation at a young age. I’ve been taking the long way lately to the recycling bin and mailbox in our complex, meditating on my breath and the feeling of the ground against my feet. It’s incredible, love it, I can see why Priessnitz (the founder of hydrotherapy) stressed the importance of walking barefoot on grass covered in morning dew.
Anyway, here’s what hit me yesterday during my long walk on a surprisingly humid evening in the desert. I’m so grateful that we have a 3 day, 8-hours each day licensing exam. Although, I hear everyone leaves feeling like they’ve failed, and I hear the questions are absolutely absurd, I’m glad that they’re requiring that we have a standardized amount of knowledge before we can practice medicine.
Imagine if they didn’t? Imagine if we weren’t required to know what to do should a patient on calcium channel blockers have an adverse reaction to a magnesium push? Or if we got white powdery stuff in the mail and we didn’t know that you HAVE to treat suspected anthrax immediately with doxy or cipro.. Or if we didn’t review how to triage patients during a medical emergency, or if we didn’t know how to deliver a baby properly. Or imagine if we didn’t know drug-drug interactions/drug-herb interactions or black box warnings of drugs our patients seem to always come in on? ETC.
Do you feel me? So, even though it feels like this exam is my arch nemesis, it’s actually an ally.
A picture speaks a thousand words.. So here it is, this is what it’s like studying for boards. I have successfully built a nest of nerd that can keep me equally enthusiastic while supporting my distractable nature as I go from TCM to botanical medicine to seizures to etc.
One thing that I’m appreciating is that I’m getting a chance to connect information that may have not been as solid in my mind. I’m getting a chance to review modalities that maybe I wasn’t to keen on while in school (ahem, physmed..) and I love reviewing my ERmed before actually going out into practice. We have so much we need to know for this exam including bot med, homeopathy, pharmacology, ERmed, geriatrics, pediatrics, HEENT, pulm, I could keep going. So I will: ALL of chinese medicine, nutrition, physical and lab diagnosis, environmental medicine, psychology, cardiology, urology, nephrology, and I could keep going. But I won’t.
As for the process itself.. I’ve minimized distractions and focused on surrounding myself with positive affirmations. I may have been a little slow in realizing that NPLEx creates a cut-off every year so that a certain # of students fail. Yuck. Nevertheless, all of the doctors I’ve been talking to have told me that this entire process is more of a mind game than anything else. Making sure you can stay calm under pressure and make good clinical decisions even after 4 years of medical school and 1 month (or in my case 3 weeks) of cramming in three days of 8 hours of testing.
So long story short: It’s time to invoke my inner Jedi.