Posts 2022-10-15


A confession: Once upon a time, I failed Step 2 CS. Yes, the unfailable exam. Yes, the one they eradicated because of its 94% pass rate. Yes, the one that didn’t survive the pandemic.

I still carry an unreasonable amount of shame about this. Before medical school, I excelled at exams: I had a near perfect SAT, a 94th percentile MCAT score. In it, I was firmly middle of the pack– I never failed exams, but wasn’t top of my class either. Then came NBME. 8 hour marathon exams are really difficult for me, a girl with a short attention span who has to be doing something with my hands to focus (yes, it has been suggested to me that there might be some neurodivergency here), and I’ve struggled with most of them.

The only ppl I’ve told were @linnliu and CJ (sorry mommy). I ate ramen for a month, scraped together $1200 I didn’t have from my loans and drove hours away to retake the test so that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. Still, if it weren’t for the preponderance of casual statements from my colleagues calling the test I’d failed “a joke,” the people who failed it “non English speakers” (problematic for a host of reasons) or “probably unsuited for medicine,” this whole thing would’ve been an annoyance rather than a traumatizing experience I’m still processing.

Still, it’s made me more aware of the insensitive ways we often have discussions. The many things we assume when we talk to each other: that we are able-bodied, that we are wealthy, that we find a rotation/procedure/concept “easy.” Instead, we should come from a place where we make no assumptions and let the other person fill the blanks– at the very least, to avoid alienating them. When I started to confide in my mentors, I was shocked by how many of them had had similar experiences. Facts: the most badass, knowledgeable attending you know found something you think is easy difficult. And those of us who are loud about our success are often silent in our failure.

Hope this helps someone.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.