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NBOME
There is little that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted in our daily lives—everything from special events like weddings, funerals, the birth of a baby, to routine daily activities like going to work, class, and getting together with friends. If you’re entering your 4th year of medical school, that likely also includes applying for residency. We sat down with AAMC staff: Amy Mathis, Senior Director at ERAS and Michele Oesterheld, Director of Client Services at ERAS, to talk about some of the key changes in this year’s application season.

There is little that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted in our daily lives—everything from special events like weddings, funerals, the birth of a baby, to routine daily activities like going to work, class, and getting together with friends. If you’re entering your 4th year of medical school, that likely also includes applying for residency. We sat down with AAMC staff: Amy Mathis, Senior Director at ERAS and Michele Oesterheld, Director of Client Services at ERAS, to talk about some of the key changes in this year’s application season.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the Match or the ERAS registration timeline—were there any changes to the 2021 ERAS Residency Application Cycle?

The Coalition for Physician Accountability’s Work Group on Medical Students in the Class of 2021: Moving Across Institutions for Post Graduate Training made recommendations on major issues facing applicants and training programs as they prepare for the 2021 residency application cycle. In the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Coalition recommends a delayed opening of ERAS for residency programs and a delayed release of the MSPE with a shared date for both. After much consideration for everyone involved and in collaboration with AAMC affinity groups, specialty organizations, and the ERAS Advisory Committee, ERAS has determined that on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, residency programs will gain access to applications and MSPEs will be released to residency programs. This delay gives applicants five more weeks to finalize their applications before submitting to residency programs. These date changes are reflected on the ERAS 2021 Residency Application Timeline.

Are there any other changes to the normal application process?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to medical education across the country and has drastically changed the usual application process this cycle. To draw attention to these changes, ERAS communicates with the program community through different channels (emails, community sites, webinars, training, special workgroups, etc.) during the application season.  Several specialties have released guidance for applicants around their application cycle. Please visit this page for additional details.

How can applicants stand out in a virtual setting?

The AAMC has posted several resources for residency applicants on conducting interviews during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prep for Success in Your Virtual Interview

Programs may be conducting live virtual interviews or incorporating an asynchronous/on-demand virtual interview into their process. This webinar will help you prepare for success in your virtual interviews by identifying a suitable environment, preparing and practicing with technology, and preparing for and responding to interview questions. It discusses how to address possible challenges you may face with virtual interviews and possible steps you might take to overcome them. These resources are also available in PowerPoint slides (PDF).

What key resources do you recommend for 2021 applicants?

ERAS encourages applicants to utilize the guides and worksheets listed below to assist with submitting applications.

What advice do you have for 2021 applicants?

Research programs. To help you determine which programs best fit your interests and skills, programs may provide additional details about their selection criteria and application requirements. This information is provided on ERAS 2021 Participating Specialties & Programs webpage and within ERAS, a blue informational icon will appear next to the name of programs that have provided additional information.  The AAMC has curated a series of resources that explain the process and ensure that the residency program you select is the right fit for you. Your likelihood of securing residency training depends on many factors – including the number of residency programs you apply to. This diminishing returns data is provided on the Apply Smart: Data to Consider When Applying to Residency website.

You can also research individual residency programs across 23 specialties and compare yourself to previously matched applicants at those programs using the Residency Explorer Tool.

Prepare your application.

  • Create personal statement(s)
  • Send Letter Request Forms to your Letters of Recommendation (LoRs) authors
  • Authorize the release of the COMLEX-USA and/or USMLE transcripts
  • Manage documents
  • Tip: Documents can be uploaded and assigned even after you have certified and submitted your application. Keep track of your document assignments using the Assignments Checklist (found under the Programs tab).
  • Import ERAS resume information and LoRs from your most recently submitted application (application materials are available starting with ERAS 2016 season) under the “History” tab

Check your application. Please review your application before certifying and submitting. Once you certify and submit, you will not be able to make any changes to your MyERAS application except to the “Personal Information” section – which includes the ability to upload and assign new documents after submission.

What are some of the other major questions or concerns you are receiving in relation to the 2021 application cycle?

The ERAS FAQ page for ERAS Residency Applicants contains many of the concerns we are currently hearing and will be updated throughout the ERAS 2021 season. Some of these include questions in regards to which programs will be participating in 2021, editing MyERAS Documents, application deadlines, and more.


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We understand how uncertain the times are right now, but know you are not alone in navigating it. Due to the pressures of the changing climate, we wanted to put together a resource to assist DO candidates with the 2021 Match season. While it will be fundamentally different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of resources available to make it easier to get through the Match application season successfully.

We understand how uncertain the times are right now, but know you are not alone in navigating it. Due to the pressures of the changing climate, we wanted to put together a resource to assist DO candidates with the 2021 Match season. While it will be fundamentally different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of resources available to make it easier to get through the Match application season successfully.

Looking past the many changes brought on by the COVID-era, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the 2021 Match season, especially for DO students.

The ERAS 2021 Residency Timeline and the 2021 NRMP Main Match Calendar are great resources to help you stay on track as you take your next step on the Road to DO Licensure.

2021 Match Timeline

June 8, 2020  |  Open for Business

ERAS is now open in advance of the 2021 NRMP Main Match! A token from your dean shows you are approved by your COM to enter the upcoming Match, enabling you to register with the NRMP and in MyERAS, and begin working on your applications. Check out these NRMP FAQs to learn about what’s new for this upcoming application cycle.

September 1, 2020  |  Signed, Sealed, Delivered

At 1:00pm ET, you can begin to submit your applications to residency programs!

Keep in mind that you do not need to submit all of your applications on September 1st. Programs can’t begin reviewing applications until October 21, so you have plenty of time to complete and submit your applications. If you’re still researching programs, the AAMC’s Residency Explorer Tool can help you find programs that are a good fit for you.

September 15, 2020  |  Don’t Miss a Step

The 2021 NRMP Match registration is now officially open! While it is not required for you to have an NRMP ID to submit your program applications, applicants must be registered in the NRMP’s system to participate in the Match.

October 21 – December 31, 2020  |  Crunch Time

Residency programs can begin reviewing applications at 9:00am ET on October 21st. Most residency program interviews will be held between October and December.

Many specialties have recognized the unique situation caused by the pandemic this year and have changed at least some of their expectations from previous years. Find out what your desired specialty has planned for this interview season. And make sure you’re ready to ace your virtual interview with these important tips.

February 1, 2021  |  Ranking Opens

It’s that time – once you’ve registered with the NRMP, you can now submit your Rank Order Lists. You have until March 3rd to figure out where you’d like to train – and remember, registering establishes your eligibility for SOAP (the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) in this year’s Match.

March 3, 2021  |  Last Chance for Rank Order List

The final days are here! If you haven’t already finalized your rank order list, you have until 9:00pm ET to do so – here are some tips from the NRMP on how to do it right. (And don’t forget to verify your COMLEX-USA scores too!)

March 15 – 18, 2021  |  We’re So Excited

It’s finally Match Week! Your match status becomes available at 11:00am ET on March 15th, and SOAP begins for eligible, un-matched and partially-matched applicants to unmatched positions.

Good news for those of you that haven’t heard – the NRMP has added a fourth offer round to the 2021 SOAP process to alleviate some of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

March 19, 2021  |  Drumroll Please

It’s Match Day! Celebrate with your classmates at your COM’s 2021 Match Day celebration. Match results will be made available at 1:00pm ET.


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NBOME caught up with Sydney Miller on Zoom to talk about her experience with COMLEX-USA, her new role as Student Director on the NRMP Board of Directors, and what’s next on her Road to DO Licensure. Originally from Commerce, MI, Sydney is a third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has recently become a satellite testing center for COMLEX-USA. She just started her clinical rotations a few weeks ago and is currently working in a family medicine clinic.

 

NBOME:  What inspired you to become a physician and what drew you toward becoming a DO, specifically?

SM: I had a lot of different interests as an undergrad, but I finally decided I wanted to become a doctor because I wanted to help patients, not only as a physician treating their conditions, but also serving as a teacher, advocate, and overall coordinator of care. I wanted a career where I could use my love of science and my soft side too, which is why I chose osteopathic medicine. We don’t just treat patients’ medical conditions, but we also try to discover what in their community is contributing to their health. What makes the person who they are—I was really drawn to that. I also like public health, and felt as a physician you can pull some of that in, especially as a DO. I want to be a doctor that my community can rely on.

 

NBOME: Looking back at how you prepared for COMLEX-USA Level 1, would you have done anything differently or taken a different approach to studying? 

SM: I just took COMLEX-USA Level 1 in June and one thing that was crazy about my prep was that my exam was canceled multiple times.  I had to become more adaptable. I had a set plan where I was going to study XYZ for this many days and take these specific practice tests leading up to my exam, but when I found out it was canceled, I had to be even more flexible.

Overall, I wouldn’t change too many things about how I studied. During the two years leading up to my COMLEX-USA exam, I used a few resources consistently. One thing I’d suggest is trying to blend learning the specific details with understanding the bigger picture. It’s important to make sure you aren’t losing sight of what a patient might actually present with—if someone comes in with these symptoms, what are some things that would be on your mind?

 

NBOME: As a medical student in the midst of a pandemic, do you feel this experience is helping you be more flexible or do you feel as though the stress is holding you back? 
SM: It’s a little bit of both. I try to look at it as, ‘okay, this is a new challenge.’ It also puts into perspective that COMLEX-USA is just another step in the road to becoming a doctor, which helps to lessen the pressure of performing super well. It’s true, you want to do well, but COVID-19 helped prove that there are elements you can’t control—like when you take the exam.  You have to learn to be more flexible, do the best you can, study hard, and achieve what you can the day of your exam.

Something I saw over the last two weeks of working in my family medicine clinic is people are scared—they are so stressed. They come to their doctor not just for things like ‘can you refill my blood pressure medications,’ but for, ‘I just need to talk to somebody. Can you just hear me out because I have these concerns?’ Even just talking to a doctor who knows their medical history and their family can help a lot of people get through this crazy time.

It took time for me to adjust to doing all of this differently too, and we have to realize not every day is going to be perfect. Some days I was very stressed. Moving into clerkship, a lot of original plans at the hospital had to change, but that’s the case right now in every field. You just have to take it day-by-day.

 

NBOME: Was that the most difficult part of preparing for COMLEX-USA in the middle of a pandemic?

SM: The hardest part was just being in isolation. I’m a busybody—I like to be out and about and I normally study at a coffee shop or at school because I like to have other people around me. I’m not much of an at-home studier, so I learned to study really hard and then take breaks, go outside and do fun things in between. Not being able to be around people while trying to keep a positive mindset in the midst of so much uncertainty was the hardest part for me.

 

NBOME: Part of managing stress is definitely continuing to do the things you love. How have you managed to fit in time for your hobbies and other activities while studying?  What else did you do to help keep your stress levels in check?

SM: Though I couldn’t play beach volleyball with my classmates, I’d still go for a walk almost every day, and force myself to take an hour or two off, no matter how stressed I was or how much I had to get done. I’d just schedule it into my day—40 questions in the morning, some educational videos, another 40 questions, then an hour off. There’s not too much hiking where I am, but I’d go for walks and try out new recipes to keep myself entertained. It’s important for me to put time-off into my schedule to go listen to music, lay in the hammock, catch some sun, and do things outside.

It took me some time to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. Find something that helps take your mind off of studying, something that makes you feel at peace. For me, it’s being outside and being around other people. Talking to people both inside and outside of medicine has helped give me perspective.

Especially during the first two years of school, find ways to take time off and develop coping mechanisms. At my college, we have a counseling department that’s there for just medical students. Using resources like that early on, before you start studying for COMLEX-USA and start feeling anxious or depressed, can really help support your mental health.

 

As President of your class government, you serve as a liaison between students and administration/staff across all three MSU COM campuses. How do you find balance? 

SM:  I am very lucky that the other students I work with on class government have been amazing, and I have mentors and our administration who have been so supportive. I always have people to turn to if I need help.

It was an adjustment, timewise, though—‘how do I manage having three meetings today and an exam in four days to study for?’ Yet, I know when I have meetings, it makes me appreciate the time I have by myself to study. When I’m bored of studying, then I have the meetings. They each make me appreciate the other a little more.

 

NBOME: I’m sure you’ve encountered some challenges in this role—what were they and how did you come up with solutions?

SM:  It’s almost impossible to come up with solutions to problems that work for everyone. We can’t fix everyone’s problems, and there’s no single solution that everyone’s going to be happy with. I try to listen to feedback from my classmates and advocate for changes that will do the most good for the most people.

I have mentors and staff at MSUCOM who are receptive to feedback, so if something comes up that I don’t know how to deal with, I immediately run down to their offices and say ‘please help me, how do we attack this?’ I listen to feedback from them and the students so together we can make useful changes and a positive impact.

 

NBOME: Congratulations on your new role as Student Director on NRMP’s Board of Directors too! We understand you’ll be providing NRMP with an osteopathic student perspective on current initiatives and brainstorming ways to help improve the residency match process. What drew you to this role?

SM: Thank you! I was interested in this position first of all because it’s a national position dealing with problems across the country for medical students. As president of my class, I was focused on the problems my immediate community faced. I wanted to take it to a bigger scale to learn more about the process and advocate for DO students to have a seat at the table now that we have a single match.

As a medical student, the one thing you know you want at the end of your four years is to match into a residency program—it’s the biggest step in your professional career.  I wanted to learn more about that process and contribute to it in a way that helps all students, DO students especially.

There’s a lot of mystery in what being a DO student is like and I’m excited to share that with the board and talk about my experiences. There’s a new wave in medicine of ‘how can we improve this–how can we do better?’ I thought this would be a cool place to get involved.

 

NBOME: What are some of the topics you would like to explore further with the NRMP? 

SM: I was thinking of ways residency program directors can look at applicants more holistically, taking into account all parts of the individual—not just their scores. I want to help come up with a streamlined process that allows them to better analyze the thousands of applications they get each year. I don’t have a perfect answer for what should be important, but I want to work with RPDs or directors of medical education at hospitals and students to try and come up with a holistic process. It’s important for RPDs to select students based on more than just a score.

With respect to licensing examinations going to a Pass/Fail format: there are positives and negatives to Pass/Fail. Some students have shared that they worked hard to do well on this exam and want their score to reflect that. How can we come up with a middle ground that benefits both students and RPDs?

There is also the issue of students not reporting Match violations by programs. So if they are at an interview and the interviewer asks the student where they rank that program on their list, students feel afraid to report it for fear of potential backlash. I want to be part of developing a process that enables students to report these violations without fear of retribution.

 

NBOME: You’ve had the opportunity to explore so many different specialty areas through your rotations. Based on this, do you have a plan for zeroing in on a specialty?

SM: Because I have to do rotations in a lot of different areas and have so many interests on top of that, there are very few things I’ve encountered that I’ve felt weren’t for me. Right now, I’m leaning towards family medicine, internal medicine, or emergency medicine because you see a little bit of everything. I’m trying to keep an open mind and go into every rotation acting as if this is exactly what I want to be doing, all while asking myself, ‘Could I see myself doing this? Do I fit in here? Do I feel like I could contribute?’

I’m hoping to figure it out by going there, experiencing the day-to-day, and seeing what being a resident in that field really looks like. I also need to think about what my lifestyle looks like so I can find a field that matches those needs. I’m trying not to think about it too hard, but in the end, I’ll have to go with my gut.

 

NBOME: What advice would you give to COM students following in your footsteps?

SM: Find ways to make yourself happy outside of school, and try to develop coping skills for when things get tough—because things will get tough. Studying for long hours isn’t fun. Working long hours as a student or resident isn’t always easy, but if you can figure out ways to minimize your stress, you can succeed.

Work to get to know the people around you and form relationships with the people in your class. Medical school is a unique experience and the people who understand that best are your classmates. The best part about medical school is the community I’m so lucky to have. Having other people I can call on when I need them is what helps me get through stressful times when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Some people want to study all the time and not take breaks. That’s what works for them, but that’s not what works for me. It’s taken me a little bit of time for me to confidently say, ‘this is how I study and this is how I’m going spend my time off.’ Not doing the same thing as everybody else doesn’t mean it is wrong.  Find what works for you and stick to it. That will take time and that’s okay. You don’t have to have it all figured out right away. Take it day-by-day and do your best.


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To just say that mental health and the effects of stress and anxiety have a direct impact on academic success would be an understatement. Mental health issues have never be in a brighter spotlight than they are right now—both for medical students, as well as for the general public. Many who have never experienced serious stress and anxiety previously are suddenly in the middle of something that feels completely foreign and unexpected.

According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Americans experience mental health issues every year.  Yet, we continue to talk about it in hushed tones, quietly labeling those who are struggling as weak or inferior. This stigma is very real and the feeling of being judged or deemed unfit is often what prevents people from addressing their problems or getting help. In a profession where, in order to even gain admittance to its educational institution, you have to prove you are the “best of the best,” the perception of weakness can only compound anxiety.

Even though physicians face more scrutiny when disclosing mental health issues or treatment to licensing boards, we need to help ourselves and work together to break the stigma.

Mental health issues can permeate every aspect of our lives—from how well we sleep, to the health of our relationships, to how we perform on COMLEX-USA. But these issues are also present in more subtle ways, like mood swings, changes in eating habits, our ability to push ourselves intellectually, take chances, and feel emotions. These discreet changes can compound over time, leading to more serious issues, so it is important to recognize them as they surface, acknowledge their importance, and put a plan in place to address them.

 
Tune-in and listen.  You can’t fix something you don’t know about. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what your brain and body are trying to tell you as you push yourself towards your goal of becoming a DO. We’re not suggesting anything elaborate, just a quick, daily Q&A with the most important person in your life (you). How are you feeling? How’s your brain? Sleep well? Ready to take on the day? Now listen to your answers. Does anything seem off?

Now that you’ve successfully inventoried your headspace, your sleep, eating patterns, and your personal relationships, we can talk about what triggers your stress and anxiety. Everything can be going along fine and all of a sudden, emotional whiplash is upon you. But why? What happened that disturbed your mental homeostasis and how can you improve your understanding of the issue so you can better master your response the next time?

 
Find your solution. Unproductive worries and rehearsing disaster can build up like cobwebs in your mind and be hard to shake out, but you can train yourself to experience those recurring thoughts in a different way. Implementing emotional well-being practices can help restore and protect you—both mentally and physically.

Practiced Meditation can assist you in letting go of those distracting thoughts, giving them less power over you. And while yoga, deep breathing exercises, repetitive physical activity, and open communication are all effective as well, continuing to do the things that you love—those that bring you joy and relaxation are just as important.

In choosing to pursue osteopathic medicine, you’re no stranger to stress and personal sacrifice, but there ARE limits. While stress can be a crucial element in keeping you motivated and on track towards achieving your DO goals, extending yourself past your limits helps no one, especially not your future patients. You can’t provide quality care to others if you aren’t able to provide quality care to yourself. Burnout is real. Know your limits and be confident when you chose to strategically say no.

 
Help reduce the stigma. Becoming an advocate for others who are also struggling, even while you’re working to manage your own mental health and anxiety issues, can be extraordinarily rewarding and even help deepen your own self-awareness and understanding. Become a more active and engaged member of your own support system of friends and family or find strength in numbers by joining or starting a group at your COM or as part of your Residency Program to help fight the stigma of mental health issues.

Raising awareness about mental health and reducing the stigma associated with it continues to be incredibly important, as is promoting help-seeking behaviors and emotional well-being practices. Your mind, body, and spirit takes care of your patient’s mind, body, and spirit. To do that successfully, you need to find a mental balance for yourself first.

Be strong during a crisis, be adamant in the calm, and stay firm in the storm.


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We’ve all been the kind of busy and stressed out that makes us accidentally miss a meal (and in some cases, not even be hungry for one). However, missing those meals prevents you from giving your body the nutrition and hydration it needs to power through and operate at full capacity. For busy medical students, it’s important to remember that you have to take care of yourself before you can successfully take care of others (i.e. your future patients). If you get into the habit now of not just eating regular meals, but also healthy ones, you’ll likely be able to carry these habits through to residency (when you have even less time to dedicate to eating and drinking the right things). Ensuring you get sufficient nutrition, can dramatically improve your mood, immunity, energy, and focus—all things necessary for preparing to be a physician.

We’ve all been the kind of busy and stressed out that makes us accidentally miss a meal (and in some cases, not even be hungry for one). However, missing those meals prevents you from giving your body the nutrition and hydration it needs to power through and operate at full capacity. For busy medical students, it’s important to remember that you have to take care of yourself before you can successfully take care of others (i.e. your future patients). If you get into the habit now of not just eating regular meals, but also healthy ones, you’ll likely be able to carry these habits through to residency (when you have even less time to dedicate to eating and drinking the right things). Ensuring you get sufficient nutrition, can dramatically improve your mood, immunity, energy, and focus—all things necessary for preparing to be a physician.

Not sure how to cram nutrition, and hydration, and everything else into your already super-packed schedule? Keep reading!

WATER

How much water do I need?

80% of our water intake comes from fluids, and only about 20% from the foods we eat. This makes drinking water all the more essential. When you are even mildly dehydrated, this can cause physical stress on your body, and make it difficult to concentrate and even perform physical tasks.

How do I drink more water?

With so many things on your plate right now, you forget about the glass of water sitting right next to it. Technology can help! Hydration apps and smart bottles provide reminders to drink your daily fill.  You can also up your intake of water-rich foods:

FOOD

How do I eat healthier?

Stop. Skipping. Breakfast. We hear you.  By the time our feet hit the floor in the morning, we’re already go-go-going—with many of us putting little to no thought into jump-starting our day (and our metabolism) with breakfast (because we already jumpstarted it with a million other things). When a leisurely brunch is not on your menu, here are a couple of easy grab-and-go ideas:

  • Probiotic-packed Greek yogurt
  • Apple or banana
  • Bulk Granola or Healthy Trail Mix

Pre-portion your snacks.  Looking for a better way to avoid stress-eating and/or over-eating? Portioning out your snacks ahead of time with baggies or bowls can be a lifesaver. Plus, it helps you plan your limits (before your mouth craves more). When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Upgrade old favorites to healthier versions.  We’re not suggesting you stop eating your favorites like mac and cheese (gasp!) or hamburgers (nooo!). Just give them a little refresh with some healthy swaps and additions.

  • Sneak veggies into traditionally ‘bad-for-you meals’—like lasagna
  • Swap your proteins—ground turkey for ground beef
  • Reduce your sugar intake—stop adding it to your morning coffee, say no to high-sugar condiments like ketchup, or swap high-sugar juice for a lower sugar option like kombucha

How do I pull this off with my busy schedule?

Virtual Shopping with grocery apps.  Skip the store with apps, such as Amazon Fresh, Instacart, or Peapod. These allow you to shop from wherever you are. Instead of investing time going to the grocery store, wandering around aimlessly, and suddenly finding yourself holding a family-size bag of chips instead of a head of broccoli, this method can help you save some serious time, and if you’re smart, some money too.

Save prep time by going frozen.  Best part? It’s already prepped and chopped for you. And some studies show that frozen vegetables are packed with even more nutrients than the fresh stuff because they are frozen before your fruits and veggies start to break down. Frozen also costs a LOT less than fresh too.

Prepare meals for on-the-go.  Make the most of your weekend study breaks. Pop into the kitchen for a few minutes here and there to bag some snacks for the week or blend smoothies to freeze (find some of our favorite recipes here). Another study break gets your virtual grocery shopping taken care of too.

When you’re busy, it’s hard to make space for nutrition (or even meals in general), but doing so will help to increase your focus, lower your stress, and save you time in the long haul. Focusing on diet and nutrition doesn’t need to slow you down!


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Residency Explorer is a resource for rising 4th-year medical students from MD-granting and DO-granting medical schools in the United States and international medical students and graduates who are applying to residency programs in 2020. It allows applicants to research individual residency programs in 23 specialties and compare themselves to applicants who previously matched at those programs as well as explore program characteristics across many areas of interest.

Residency Explorer is the only resource with original, source-verified data from the 9 national organizations involved in the transition to residency. While Residency Explorer does not tell applicants where to apply or predict where they may match to a residency program, it can help applicants research and develop a list of programs for further investigation. Last year, 9 out of 10 applicants said after using Residency Explorer, they felt more confident about which programs to apply to and felt more informed about the characteristics of programs of interest to them.

NBOME is a sponsor of Residency Explorer along with other national organizations involved in medical education: Association of American Medical Colleges, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, American Medical Association, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Federation of State Medical Boards, National Board of Medical Examiners, National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, and National Resident Matching Program.

If you have questions about Residency Explorer, please consult the FAQ and Help sections at https://www.residencyexplorer.org.


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NBOME Resident Ambassador, Carisa Champion, DO, JD, MPH, was recently selected as a fellow in the Grey’s Anatomy Surgical Communications Fellowship beginning next month. We had the chance to sit down with her to briefly discuss her accomplishments and talk more about her own unique Road to DO licensure.

 

What made you choose to specialize in general surgery?

I was drawn to surgery for the same reasons I was drawn to medicine as a career. I grew up doing medical missions and saw the disparities surrounding underserved populations. Surgeons are not only able to impact a community with medical care, but also with surgical care as well. I’ve learned that the scope of surgery can prepare me to best serve broadly underserved populations.

 

What motivated you to apply for the Grey’s Anatomy fellowship?

Passion—this opportunity was able to connect my masters of public health and my interest in media together. I’ve enjoyed conducting research on many topics over the years, and the studies I’m involved in have the potential to be read by other doctors; however, the general public gets much of their health information from the media. Grey’s Anatomy prides itself on increasingly aiming to be medically accurate and I’m excited to be a part of that!

 

What part of the fellowship are you most excited about?

I’m excited about meeting the staff and learning what goes on behind the scenes!

 

What advice would you have for a resident interested in applying?

Whatever your interests are, don’t put off chasing them.

 

What are your next steps after you finish the fellowship?

Finishing residency and seeing what the next adventure is. I live life one day at a time and I have a few goals I’ve been working on—so excited to see how those turn out.

 

Stay tuned for more success stories from other DOs, residents, and students in the coming months.

What do you picture when you think of meditation a person standing under a waterfall or someone sitting in full lotus chanting “ommm”?  With so many stereotypes following meditation around, and so many perceived restrictions, it’s not surprising that it prevents many from practicing it; however, it is important to keep in mind that meditation is simply a vehicle with which to still your mind. Practicing meditation belongs to you and does not involve any right or wrongs. There are no pressures and there is no try with which to feel as though it is too hard. To put it simply, meditation isn’t inclusive of sitting down and doing nothing for extended periods of time. Let’s face it, as a medical student or resident do you have time to do nothing while studying or preparing for licensure exams?

While sitting meditation is its own kind of practice, it doesn’t have to be your practice if you don’t have the time for it. We all have our unique ways of getting to a clear, stress-free mind. What’s yours?

WHY MEDITATE

As a future physician, and someone whose job is to heal, you will inevitably see a lot of suffering, and there will be times that are difficult to get through. With this in mind, you’ll need to find your own strategy to get through the hard times and prevent those situations or leftover feelings from eating you up inside. All doctors have acquired learned behaviors to help them cope with the feeling of burnout. Meditation is one of them.

Imagine you have to tell someone they have cancer and they only have a certain amount of time left to live. Not all specialties will encounter situations this severe, but the mental fortitude to ‘reset’ yourself and be present for your next patient is important no matter what specialty you choose. You’ll have to let the emotional baggage go, move on quickly, and continue to function.  When you are stressed out, when you are anxious or nervous, and facing something that feels impossible—the only real choice is calm.

Meditation can help you find that calm and develop a different response to stress by refocusing your thoughts when you fall into a negative thinking pattern. It’s a practice that will help strengthen your mind and learn how to be with yourself—deeply with yourself, and your darkest thoughts—while you watch them pass by like ships on the water, silently observing, and then letting that go too. As a future physician, you can take the practice of meditation with you anywhere and apply it to all aspects of your life.

HOW TO MEDITATE

Face the Difficulty
Your mind is your worst enemy.  Whenever you start something new, there’s always a level of uncertainty. And that’s okay. It’s normal to feel challenged when meeting with yourself. Don’t let you discourage you. This is an open dialogue—a forever conversation with yourself, and it will take discipline and commitment to follow through—just like your commitment to becoming a DO.

Find the Time
There are many kinds of structured meditation that follow forms, such as Zazen, Qigong, or Yoga. These types of meditation involve making time in your schedule. And if that’s possible for you, that’s wonderful! However, we truly know, and appreciate, how frenetic and time-crunched the schedule of a busy medical student or resident is. Not everyone can spare the time to essentially get nothing done. In which case, they will need to take their practice into their own hands and find portions of time in their schedules to meditate or at least be meditative.

Start with counting your breaths and keep letting the thoughts roll away. Let what you’re doing become your mantra, and keep reciting it.

Learn to Focus
Stop for a moment—stop wondering about the results of your last COMLEX-USA exam or how one of your patients is doing.

  1. Take a moment to focus inwardly.
  2. Make yourself comfortable.
  3. Check-in with your body and keep your back straight.
  4. Don’t move if you can help it.
  5. Keep your eyes still and about six yards in front of you, soften your sight.
  6. Breathe diaphragmatically from your core.
  7. Start to count each of your exhales until you get to ten.
  8. Start over from one and count your exhales again—rinse, repeat.
  9. Keep bringing your mind back and avoid wandering down that rabbit hole.
  10. Be the observer. Let it pass and don’t try to catch it—fish without any bait.

Keep Consistency
It’s better to meditate for just five minutes every day than to try and clear time for larger chunks of meditation twice a week. The consistency and repetition of your practice are essential to perform maintenance on your mind like you would on a computer. Keep at it!

WHEN TO MEDITATE

Meditation isn’t a prescription. It’s not like taking an ibuprofen that will make your headache go away—it’s more like the reins on a wild horse you need to learn how to tame. With this in mind, don’t just meditate when you’ve had a stressful day; meditate when you’re also having an amazing day. Sit with your happiness as often as you sit with your distress.

WHERE TO MEDITATE

Sitting
As mentioned before, there are so many different forms of meditation. While many of them involve sitting formally and doing nothing, that isn’t to say you can’t enter the same headspace in a different setting—like sitting on a park bench or in the car. The restrictive and often painful ‘do nothing’ structure is conjured to help you focus on the here and now, but you can also achieve that same experience in other ways:

Walking
Meditation isn’t just limited to stillness. There are forms of moving meditation that can enable you to sink into a focused state without having to stop moving. “Walk it off” had to come from somewhere, right? Sometimes just taking a beat internally, can help to move you through a stressful space and into calm. And there are so many ways you can fit this into your daily life:

Doing
Meditation is also not limited to any action and can exist anywhere within you. Meaning, even when you are doing something, your mind is free and unbound from it. With any type of repetitive motion, you can enter a meditative state:

In the medical profession, meditation can be a practice that helps you sculpt a clean bill of mental health. It’s easy for anyone to have unproductive worries, but if you can train yourself to experience those distracting thoughts differently without giving them too much power over you, then you can avoid rehearsing disaster and stressing too much over the uncertain. Meditation will root you in the moment and help you be present not only for yourself but also for your patients.


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We stand with you as we bear witness to the unjustified deaths of black Americans at the hands of systemic racism running rampant in our nation.

George Floyd
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery

Just a few of the names—among so many more—whose shocking and senseless deaths have left our communities reeling and enraged.

We are with you.

As our nation continues to endure this global pandemic, we reflect on the inequalities that remain alive and well in America. This civil unrest has yet again helped bring to light a long-overdue conversation that we will continue to have with you, using our platform to speak of love, support, respect, and community. While peaceful protesters search for answers, we continue our belief that empathy for one another can fuel positive cultural change.

We support you.

We refuse to stay silent when innocent lives are sacrificed in the throes of senseless brutality. In line with our mission to protect the public, we choose to speak out against hate, violence, and injustice against all people. We must all rise together to address these issues as we build a framework for future generations, founded on trust, equality, and support for our fellow human being.

We stand together.

We call on everyone within the osteopathic medical community to help heal not just the body, but also the heart of our very broken nation.

 

COVID-19 can’t dampen the excitement of graduating from a College of Osteopathic Medicine and earning the title “DOctor” Let’s celebrate your achievements virtually — Include #DOProud2020 in your posts!

Make it Count Monday

Now is a great time to give back in your hometown – whether it’s a couple of cans donated to a local food bank or shelter, volunteering your time with a worthy cause, or helping to support your local blood bank — every little bit counts!

Take Us Back Tuesday

Let’s rewind to your first day of medical school and then fast-forward to your last.  Share your best side-by-side pictures on social media.

Write It Wednesday

Who has been your biggest champion or influenced you the most during medical school? Take a moment to write and share five quick notes with professors, staff, colleagues, or friends and show them how important they have been on your #RoadtoDOLicensure.

Throwback Thursday

What was your favorite COM memory? Share a social media post of your story with the DO community – make sure you tag your classmates, your COM.

Fresh Start Friday

What are you looking forward to the most in residency? Share your list with others on social media.

 

Best of luck from NBOME! Extra points if you use our logo.

Katelyn Wray is a second-year medical student at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine on her #RoadtoDOLicensure, and she admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out. There just isn’t a set formula for success that DO students can use to plug-and-play. Even so, she has still managed to find an approach that works for her–one that balances her time so she can incorporate all her requirements into her schedule without robbing from either her physical or mental health.
Katelyn Wray is a second-year medical student at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine on her #RoadtoDOLicensure, and she admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out. There just isn’t a set formula for success that DO students can use to plug-and-play. Even so, she has still managed to find an approach that works for her–one that balances her time so she can incorporate all her requirements into her schedule without robbing from either her physical or mental health.

“It’s important to keep in mind that we are studying for the patient, not for the exam.”

Katelyn Wray is a second-year medical student at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine on her #RoadtoDOLicensure, and she admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out. There just isn’t a set formula for success that DO students can use to plug-and-play. Even so, she has still managed to find an approach that works for her–one that balances her time so she can incorporate all her requirements into her schedule without robbing from either her physical or mental health.

Having a balanced schedule like that is also possible for you, which is why we would like to share her experience. We’re excited to be able to relay Katelyn’s spirit, attitude, and unwavering determination to figure out how to accomplish her dream—even after not getting into medical school on her first try. It is that determination that we would like to pass on in the hopes that it will help inspire others to do the same—be confident in the pursuit of your dream, enjoy the present, and try not to stress as much we know you do. We are all human and no one is perfect.

Katelyn’s schedule won’t work for everyone either—in truth, it may only work for Katelyn. However, we hope that it may help you craft your own study schedule—one that is focused on the importance of your own wellness and mental health.

I wish I could start this off with an exciting story from my medical school life. I envisioned telling you a breathtaking encounter resembling a TV sitcom about how this past week I performed a lifesaving resuscitation in the emergency room or researched a rare syndrome, making a diagnosis no one had been able to make before. But the reality of medical school is that it’s extremely mundane. My days are long, filled with lots of exams and studying, and most recently, saturated with preparation for COMLEX-USA.

For me, a typical day starts at 5:15 AM. I live with two other second-year medical students. One of them gets up with me each morning, we get ready, eat breakfast, and head to the library together. I’m currently preparing to take COMLEX-USA Level 1 at the end of May 2020. In the mornings, I study for two to three hours: practice questions, watching review videos. I had been completing sets of 5-10 questions periodically prior to winter break, however, my exam prep has really increased since returning to school in 2020.

I attend class in person versus watching a recording of my classes. I feel that just watching recordings could isolate me, plus, attending class lets me work on my interpersonal skills and ask questions live. Because of that, my school day usually starts at 8 or 9 AM. Our curriculum has a lot of repetition, which has been very helpful to me in learning concepts and retaining them. For instance, we’ll learn a concept in anatomy during first-year, then during the clinical skills course in second-year, we’ll have the same concept presented in another way. This is different than a systems-based curriculum, which many schools utilize. This approach covers everything related to, say, the kidney, including the anatomy, pathology, pharmacology, and clinical correlations, and then moves on to the next system. For me, the repetition I get from our curricular approach has been very useful and works well with how I learn.

A typical day for me consists of about five hours of class and lab time. After that, I usually take a break. Sometimes I work out, I eat dinner, and I recharge. Then, I study my course content. Our curriculum is ‘exam heavy’ so we have about 1-2 exams per week and 2 quizzes per week.

The upside is that it holds you accountable for knowing the material and puts less value to each point.  The downside is that there is always an exam to prepare for.

My day ends at 10 PM when I go to bed and get ready to do it all again.

One of the most interesting parts of med school has been watching all the different ways that students can successfully DO medical school. For instance, I wake up early, study, and attend class. My other roommate sleeps in, watches lectures online, and stays up late studying. Some students study lecture packets, some use online flashcards, others utilize board prep materials, copiously annotating in the margins. During my first year, and honestly to this day, it was extremely difficult to feel comfortable and confident in my own approach to studying. This seems to be a common theme amongst my classmates. It’s so easy to doubt yourself when you see someone else successfully employ a totally different study strategy. And in a world with an overabundance of resources and information, you can find yourself burdened with the desire to study everything and learn everything all at once. At the end of the day, time is limited, so pick a study method and make the most of it—quality of studying over quantity.

Despite the repetitive nature of my days, each day is filled with learning that brings me one day closer to fulfilling my dream. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at a Community Health Clinic throughout med school, and as I’ve progressed, it’s been exciting and rewarding to witness my medical knowledge grow and expand, which has increased my ability to provide quality patient care. I’m currently in the process of selecting rotation sites for my third and fourth year, and experiences like these are what bring the patients on the pages of textbooks to life and bring excitement and passion to my more mundane days.   These experiences allow me to refocus and direct my energy toward studying while enabling me to eventually achieve my dream.


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NRMP #Match2020 Results. 90.7% match rate for DO Seniors. Up 2.6% over 2019. Up 13% over 2016.

               


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Match Day success stories from the archives as well as new stories from Match2020!

 


MATCH 2020

 

My Osteopathic education prepared me so well for a residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I could not be more grateful for my school and the physicians who mentored me along the way.

— Nicolet Finger
UNTHSC-TCOM
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Health San Antonio

 

 

 

 


 

The road to get here was surely a rough one, but nothing worth doing in life is meant to be easy. At the end of the day I had faith that my perseverance through the hard times would pay off, and today I found out that they did! To all the future physicians out there, NEVER GIVE UP. The world needs your healing

–Brynne Hunt
WCUCOM
Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel-Newark

 

 

 

 

 


I matched to my number one spot! I’ll be a family medicine resident at Saint Joseph Health System in Mishawaka, Indiana. I am so blessed to be able to be a DO and serve the community that raised me! Here is a picture of my cat and me celebrating during quarantine lol. We had a dance party!

— Jess Williams
KCOM
Family Medicine at Saint Joseph Health System

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

I am so grateful to have trained to become an osteopathic physician. I matched into my number one choice for residency in internal medicine! Thankful for all my friends I made along the way and the physicians who mentored me!

— Jacob Baer
KCU-COM
Internal Medicine at University of Kansas

 

 

 

 

 


 

I am able to fulfill my dream of being an emergency medicine physician! I am thankful to my school for all the opportunities afforded to me and the people in my life for support! Looking forward to being a DO in the emergency department.

–Michael Skaletsky
MU-COM
Emergency Medicine at Doctors Hospital Columbus, OH

 

 

 

 

 


With all the craziness that is going on right now, it was great to see how everyone rallied together to celebrate match day virtually. We have all worked so hard to get to this point and I love seeing all of our dreams become a reality.

–Amber Hartman
KYCOM
Pediatrics at SIU – Springfield, IL

 

 

 

 

 


At Cook County Hospital there’s a plaque that says: ‘One doesn’t ask of one who suffers, what is your country and what is your religion? One merely says you suffer. This is enough for me. You belong to me and I shall help you. – Louis Pasteur’ This philosophy aligns perfectly with the values we learn at CCOM. Proud to be a part of #DoctorsthatDo and match at my top choice!

–Palak Patel
CCOM
Internal Medicine at Cook County

 

 

 

 


My DO medical education introduced me to mentors, clinical experiences, and a revitalized passion to assist struggling rural locales like my own hometown. I am over the moon about matching into my top choice in family medicine at at NH-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Concord, NH, which offers a rural track that I will carry with me for the entirety of my career in rural family medicine.

–Clare O’Grady
NYIT-COM
NH-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency

 

 

 


My osteopathic medical education provides a unique vantage point into mental health treatment. Residency program leadership also saw this as a valuable asset when assembling their incoming intern class. I am proud to be a DO and will utilize my experiences as a future research psychiatrist!

–Grace Sydney Pham
UNTHSC-TCOM
Psychiatry/Research at Baylor College of Medicine

 

 

 

 

 


I am beyond thrilled to have matched into Internal Medicine and cannot wait to begin my career as a doctor! The knowledge gained, the experiences lived, and the relationships formed throughout medical school will stick with me as I continue to grow as a physician. To all of my 2020 peers, we made it!

–Maxwell Horowitz
TouroCOM NY
Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Icahn SOM St. Luke’s-West

 

 

 

 


I could not have picked a better medical school to grow and mature into a young doctor. I am thrilled to have matched into an OB/GYN residency at my top program, St. Luke’s University Health Network. I look forward to continuing to pave the way for other DOs! 

–Kathleen Ackert
PCOM
OB/GYN at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem

 

 

 

 

 


I think the key to getting a good residency is to go and audition at that location. If you can show programs a good work ethic, coupled with your unique osteopathic education, you might be surprised at how many doors can open up for you.

–Phillip Bennett
RVU-COM
Pathology AP/CP at the University of Utah

 

 

 

 

 


Matching into my top choice residency is a dream come true! I am incredibly grateful for my medical school peers and physician mentors for helping me build self-confidence and supporting my intellectual, personal, and professional growth throughout this journey. 

–Priya Shah
CCOM
Emergency Medicine at Duke University

 

 


I have loved every moment of this crazy journey through medical school, and I am eager to use the knowledge I have gained as an osteopathic medical student. A quote I once heard was “if you work hard, you’ll get lucky” and I am so lucky to have found a place among the amazing physicians who work in Family Medicine. I can definitely say they are my people! I matched at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and I can’t wait to begin the next 3 years of training.

–Megan Miller
Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
Family Medicine at Wright State University

 

 

 


Beyond excited to match at Detroit Receiving for Emergency Medicine. I am extremely excited to be a DO in the Emergency Department.

–Rajiv Varandani
CCOM
Emergency Medicine at Detroit Receiving

 

 

 

 


Attending an osteopathic medical school has equipped me with a unique skill set and has provided a one of a kind training experience that will be invaluable to my future role as a physician. The journey was challenging, but with faith, dedication, and support, I made it through! Always remember, your darkest and most difficult moments are never wasted; they simply prepare you for your destiny. I cannot wait to apply all that I have learned to serve and make a positive impact on my patients- the osteopathic way!

–Anna-Kaye Brown
RowanSOM
Anesthesiology at Temple University Hospital

 


Incredibly humbled to be the only DO this year to match in Cardiothoracic Surgery I6. Prior to medical school, I worked as an LPN in Cardiac Surgery for 5 years ,while taking night classes dreaming of this day. Thank you very much to the AOA, AACOM, NBOME and WVSOM for all your support and giving this nurse an opportunity to realize his dreams.

–Jason Gilbert
WVSOM
University of Kentucky in Cardiothoracic Surgery

 

 

 

 


MATCH 2019

Continue reading…

Here’s what you need to know about residency programs, Osteopathic Recognition and board certification.

A valuable guide for RPDs (and others) to better understand COMLEX-USA scores and usage.

Kenneth B. Simons, MD , Senior Associate Dean for GME and Accreditation at the Medical College of Wisconsin discusses holistic approaches for residency programs and COMLEX-USA for DO applicants.


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More than 9,916 fellowship positions filled through NRMP Specialties Matching Service.

 

Even though Match 2020 events have been canceled to contain the spread of COVID-19 and help flatten the curve, that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate this huge achievement in a big way. Let’s keep the wave of DO support and #MATCH2020 positivity going this week! Here are some ideas:

 

  1. Take your celebration online. Post an Instagram story of your at-home letter-opening ceremony and use the cool frames provided by @AACOM_DO. To be seen and found, make sure you hashtag #VirtualMatchDay #DistanceMatch #Match2020 #MatchDay2020. And don’t forget to tag @NBOME for a repost!
  2. Get everyone together. Gather your extended family and friends online and video chat them about your huge accomplishment – they’ll be thrilled to get the chance to celebrate alongside you!
  3. Find your friends. Identify hashtags related to the specialty you matched into and join the conversation! #VirtualPathMatch, #PsychiatryMatch2020 #VirtualEmergencyMedicineMatch, etc.

 

We’re excited to see your posts and stories in the coming days. If you want to share a quote and a picture with us to be featured on our website and possibly in our social campaign, please email it to us at: komalley@nbome.org!


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Sleep is usually the first to fall to the wayside when your time is limited—even when you do manage to carve out the time, it’s not always in the cards. However, sleep challenges are to be expected when you’re trying to fit in time for class, studying, and 4,026,527 other things. Your sleep hygiene is what determines your energy reserves and endurance, your ability to focus on the material you’re learning, and even your stress and anxiety levels throughout the day. For busy medical students like yourself to keep functioning at 110%, getting better sleep is essential on the road to DO licensure.
Sleep is usually the first to fall to the wayside when your time is limited—even when you do manage to carve out the time, it’s not always in the cards. However, sleep challenges are to be expected when you’re trying to fit in time for class, studying, and 4,026,527 other things. Your sleep hygiene is what determines your energy reserves and endurance, your ability to focus on the material you’re learning, and even your stress and anxiety levels throughout the day. For busy medical students like yourself to keep functioning at 110%, getting better sleep is essential on the road to DO licensure.

Sleep is usually the first to fall to the wayside when your time is limited—even when you do manage to carve out the time, it’s not always in the cards. However, sleep challenges are to be expected when you’re trying to fit in time for class, studying, and 4,026,527 other things.

Your sleep hygiene is what determines your energy reserves and endurance, your ability to focus on the material you’re learning, and even your stress and anxiety levels throughout the day. For busy medical students like yourself to keep functioning at 110%, getting better sleep is essential on the road to DO licensure.

Regardless of age, everyone is wired a little differently—some function best at the crack of dawn, while others channel their cognitive energy more effectively in the middle of the night. No matter what category you fit into, you can benefit from some improved sleep hygiene—here’s how:

1. Keep a Consistent Schedule

You should be aiming for the same bedtime and wake time every day—yes, even on the weekends. This regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. And sadly, there’s no playing catch-up on those lost hours either. Losing sleep on Thursday and sleeping-in on Saturday doesn’t mean you’re back to zero—you’re just confusing your body.

Instead of squeezing in study time by dipping into your eight hours of allotted sleep, try and plan ahead. Use your early wake time on the weekend to get some preemptive study time in. This will help prevent you from losing sleep on weeknights and sleeping-in to try and make up for it. Of course, things like concerts, parties, and other fun events come up and throw off your beat, but if you try not to change your schedule by more than an hour on weekends, you’ll be set.

2. Design Your Sleep Space

You will spend approximately 30% of your life in your bedroom, so you should make it a place that meets the conditions you will need for a good night’s sleep.

Clean

A cluttered room is a stressful room. Organization is what can help you avoid that creeping anxiety caused by a pile of dirty laundry you were supposed to wash two days ago—just when you’re trying to fall asleep.

Cool

Sleep usually begins when the body’s temperature drops, so a colder room will encourage sleep faster. Aim for between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the tossing and turning.

Comfortable

Is there anything better than a comfy bed? You’re looking for one that is not only less than ten years old, but also supportive and paired with an allergen-free pillow that works with your unique sleeping position. Flatter pillows usually provide better neck support for back or stomach-sleepers.

Quiet

Make sure your bedroom is free of any noises or distractions. Jolting awake at 3 AM from a car horn is in no one’s best interest. Try ear plugs, white noise, or ambient sound machines if you live in a particularly loud area.

Dark

For all those night owls or anyone who doesn’t rise with the sun, blackout curtains or quality shades are your sleep-inducing companion to block out unwanted rays of sunshine during exam week.

3. Manage Light Intake

Circadian rhythms determine a lot when it comes to daily sleep patterns. They naturally program us to be awake when the sun is up, and ready for sleep when the sun goes down, all while cueing other physical, mental, and behavioral changes. What can throw that off, however, is how you manage your overall light intake.

Blue light from electronic devices will trick your brain into thinking that it’s still daylight even when it’s not. Try changing your device’s color temperature or limit screen time an hour before you plan to go to sleep.

Reversely, make sure you’re getting adequate natural light during the day. Letting in some sun when you first wake up can help you stay alert for your classes or study sessions throughout the day. For short winter days or night owls, light therapy boxes can also provide an assist.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercising on a daily basis is the best science-backed way to improve your sleep and wellness, and there are many ways to find the right, time efficient activity for you—from attending yoga classes to just a short walk. Body movement and physical exercise can cut the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep in half (so long as you aren’t exercising right before you go to bed, as the release of adrenaline can also make sleeping hard).

See our blog on how exercise can not only help you sleep better, but also help reduce stress and anxiety.

5. Shut It Down

Just like you power down your computer, you also have to power down your brain! The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it is to unwind when you are going to sleep. Plus, if you are always checking your phone, emails, or notes from class, your brain will learn to continue seeking fresh, new stimulation—even when you don’t want it to.

Racing Brain

Let’s face it, there will be nights when you just can’t turn it off—so keep a notepad on your nightstand just in case. You’ll avoid the bright light from your phone and be able to download your thoughts to paper so you can leave a memo for your future self. You can also try reading—not your Anatomy textbook, but a good, old-fashioned fiction book. This will help distract your brain while take advantage of the repetitive eye movements that help slow you down.

Appetite

Give your body at least two to three hours to digest before going to bed. Also, don’t go to bed hungry either. Both hunger pangs and digestive activity will be uncomfortable and keep you from catching some quality Z’s.

Substances

Avoid anything like caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine late in the day. As you’re likely aware, they will stimulate your body and keep you awake.

Napping

Irregular or long naps can confuse your internal clock, making it harder for you to initiate sleep or creating a disruptive sleep. Remember too, there’s no catching up on that missed sleep!

Planning for eight hours of sleep each night can certainly benefit your life—from reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type two diabetes, to helping you stay awake during the day to study for your next COMLEX-USA exam. If you aren’t sleeping well and none of these suggestions seem to work, talk with your doctor to see what other solutions can be offered.


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Exercise may be the last thing you want to add to your plate this winter—why take it on when you’re already worried about your other responsibilities? With all these challenges, why would you further stress yourself out by tackling a new exercise routine on top of it?
Exercise may be the last thing you want to add to your plate this winter—why take it on when you’re already worried about your other responsibilities? With all these challenges, why would you further stress yourself out by tackling a new exercise routine on top of it?

Exercise may be the last thing you want to add to your plate this winter—why take it on when you’re already worried about your other responsibilities? With all these challenges, why would you further stress yourself out by tackling a new exercise routine on top of it?

Surely, you’re wondering how you’d fit it all into one day. Well, the good news is that there are lots of ways to integrate it into your daily routine. You can listen to lectures or recorded notes while you walk, run, or even during a workout. Though after a while, you may even find that you want to just unplug the biochem and turn up your favorite band.

Despite the obvious physical benefits of getting fit, exercise also has significant mental health benefits that can improve your quality of life. That’s right, exercise can take the stress factor out, so you don’t have to worry about it. Not only can it reduce your stress and anxiety levels, but it can also make you healthier overall—find out how.

Increases the production of “feel good” endorphins

During exercise, your body produces endorphin neurotransmitters that send positive, blissful signals to your brain while also acting as an analgesic to reduce feelings of pain. This is the coveted ‘runner’s high,’ which gives you a sense of euphoric well-being. Engaging in even a short 30-minute walk can work to chemically change your state-of-mind.

Boosts your self-confidence

The phrase #LookGoodFeelGood most certainly comes from a place of wisdom. If you’re in it to get fit or just want to start engaging in a daily walk, you’ll begin to see changes in yourself (both mentally and physically) based on the work you’ve put in. Self-confidence can also go a long way in those motivational pre-exam pep talks with yourself! Your self-image will grow as you meet your goals, build strength in your muscles, and stand at the top of the mountain you built with your own efforts.

Helps you balance mind and body movement

Most exercise involves repetitive motions that, once learned, cease to involve any strenuous mental engagement. It becomes a form of moving meditation that your body remembers and performs while your mind relaxes into a state of stasis or even mental nonbeing. Have you ever felt so stressed that you just wanted to hit the pause button? This type of exercise naturally helps guide you into a rhythmic ebb and flow to lose yourself in. Jogging, swimming, cycling, walking and even several types of martial arts, like Aikido or Tai chi can bring up this state-of-mind. Get out there and find the sport or activity that works for you.

Creates opportunities for social interaction

There is nothing more valuable than a friend you can help pull along, while they help push you forward.  this goes for exercise as well as your road to DO licensure. Having strength in numbers is one thing, but having a friend, significant other, child, or fellow DO candidate, enables you to create positive and collaborative experiences to help remind you of life outside of this journey. Especially when it comes to exercise, having a workout buddy or engaging in a group class can help you blow off more steam than you ever would alone.

Improves your overall health

Future doctors: we’re pretty sure we don’t have to tell you that your health is important. Juggling exercise alongside everything else may seem like a trying task, but it will help you sleep better at night, literally. On the flip side, it can also help boost your energy reserves. Movement of your body helps to improve blood circulation, boost levels of good cholesterol in your blood, lower your blood pressure, and strengthen your immunity. Movement is life, and exercise can be your ticket to help keep you actively pursuing your health.

At the end of the day, there is no downside to trying your hand (or feet) at a new exercise regime to help decrease your stress and anxiety levels, especially during these extra challenging times. We know that you are working hard toward your DO goals, and with that, comes a tremendous amount of stress. That is why we want to encourage you to take a moment to stop toiling over what you cannot control and focus inward on what you can do to help yourself feel good. Exercise can assist in guiding not just your body, but also your mind to keep you balanced and keep you focused on pursuing your passion.


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We’re guessing you don’t necessarily believe everything you hear or read these days, especially on the internet. While knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to help students and colleagues exchange ideas and best-practices related to COMLEX-USA, the high-stress, high-stakes environment you’re living in is a tangled grapevine of mysterious myths and misconceptions.
We’re guessing you don’t necessarily believe everything you hear or read these days, especially on the internet. While knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to help students and colleagues exchange ideas and best-practices related to COMLEX-USA, the high-stress, high-stakes environment you’re living in is a tangled grapevine of mysterious myths and misconceptions.

We’re guessing you don’t necessarily believe everything you hear or read these days, especially on the internet. While knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to help students and colleagues exchange ideas and best-practices related to COMLEX-USA, the high-stress, high-stakes environment you’re living in is a tangled grapevine of mysterious myths and misconceptions.

Our latest blog series is designed to help dispel some of the more popular (and more entertaining) myths and rumors about COMLEX-USA and the #RoadToDOLicensure. From things we’ve found on the internet to things we’ve experienced first-hand, what follows are some of our favorites from over the years, specifically related to Level 2-PE.  From the straight-forward to the completely off-the-wall, let’s set the record straight.

You have to pass X number of encounters to pass COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE.

The score for the PE exam is compensatory across the day, which means that passing is determined based on your performance throughout the day, not just on each individual encounter. Fun fact: there is no passing standard for each individual encounter.

We fail 10% of students each year…just because.

All levels of COMLEX-USA exams are based on standard passing scores determined by an independent group of national educators, practicing physicians, and state licensing board representatives. To pass the exam, you must meet the passing standard. Passing rates aren’t based on a curve or a pre-determined number of failures.

One Standardized Patient didn’t like me, so I failed the exam.

Having one bad interaction with a Standardized Patient doesn’t automatically determine the end result. Conversely, Standardized Patients have a lot to keep track of following each encounter, including the case they are portraying. AND they do it 12 times daily. Truly, they don’t have enough time to determine if they “like” you or not; they are simply too focused on their role, documentation of their encounter, and the assessment duties of their job.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog just in time for #MATCH2020 where we’ll share some of the latest myths and misconceptions related to applying to residency.


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“I love taking tests,” said nobody, ever. And we agree.  We want you to know that we truly understand the extraordinary level of stress and anxiety that comes with COMLEX-USA—preparation, scheduling, taking the exam, and (the hardest part), waiting for your scores to be released.
“I love taking tests,” said nobody, ever. And we agree.  We want you to know that we truly understand the extraordinary level of stress and anxiety that comes with COMLEX-USA—preparation, scheduling, taking the exam, and (the hardest part), waiting for your scores to be released.

“I love taking tests,” said nobody, ever.

And we agree.  We want you to know that we truly understand the extraordinary level of stress and anxiety that comes with COMLEX-USA—preparation, scheduling, taking the exam, and (the hardest part), waiting for your scores to be released.

It takes a lot of dedication, perseverance, and hard work to pass the COMLEX-USA exam series (we know they’re really difficult. It’s that way on purpose). As we all are aware, the stakes are high—these exams play a huge part in determining whether or not you become a practicing physician. As such, the pressure is even higher than normal. Completing these exams really means something—it means you know the material, you’re competent, and you believe in protecting the public—and that’s why you chose to become a DO in the first place, right?

To address this very special brand of stress and anxiety, we’ll be exploring a variety of wellness topics in a blog series during the coming months. In them, we will be talking about the important role that Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Mental Health, and Doing What You Love plays in helping support your overall health, (both mental and physical).

On the surface, these may sound like topics you already know and are fully aware of, but when applied the right way—that’s the powerful part.  You will learn what you can do, what you can do better, and even more importantly, what NBOME is doing to help you on your #RoadtoDOLicensure.

Stay tuned for our first blog in the series!


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