Jan 29, 2013

Into the Bushes and Out Again

Right after I posted the previous entry on family rotation in Dalin, I received an email notifying me my USMLE Step 1 results are out.
The world around me froze.
Operating with reflexes, I logged into OASIS and downloaded the pdf document. Words fail to describe how I feel. Mathematics do the job better - I am 100% certain I will pass the exam, but only 40-50% confident that I will get my desired score, which is approximately 1 standard deviation above the mean, providing me a comfortable 63rd percentile to compete with other applicants, should I decide to go the long road ahead.
I was aghast to find my score sits right at the average. Subject analysis finds I performed weakly in the nervous system. Strangely at that moment, Air Supply's "I'm All Out of Love" ringed in my ear - "I'm all out of nerves, I'm so lost without you..."
First of all, my score isn't bad. It's average and rather adequate for me to apply into a residency in Pediatrics. However, it will not evoke confidence when program directors see the score. Add the fact that I'm an International Medical Graduate (IMG) gives me a roughly 55% chances of matching according to the Results and Data of the 2012 Main Residency Match.
I didn't knew all that when I took a second glance through the 2-page sheet costing USD780. My world was in shatters. My dreams and drive for the past 6 months disintegrating while I texted close friends for consolation. I did prep myself for such an event but the reality when it hits was, well, unpredictable.
"I need time to rethink my life," I told my Internal Medicine chief resident the following day (he scurried off to prepare for a party later that night after 2 minutes). My Pediatric chief resident cornered me and told me I can still go for a high Step 2 score. Both of them are like brothers to me and their support had been unwavering throughout the process.
2 days later the pediatrics director of our Taipei branch called and asked me out for lunch to offer me a residency program at his hospital, which I happily attended last Saturday, glad to be able to spend another weekend at Taipei. The offer, I should say, is very attractive and in line with what I intended to do in future. It seems tailor made for me. I told Mr. Director I will give it a good thought.

So now I'm at another crossroad once again, like deciding whether or not I should proceed with the USMLE 6 months earlier. I repeatedly told my friends I have a lot of decisions to make and needed time to think. It's actually an excuse for an early holiday. Thanks to lots of advice and deliberation I think I'm slowly figuring them out now. I'll leave that for the future if the opportunity arises. But would just like to share this story with the age old saying - when God closes a door, He opens a window.