June 19, 2012

Fly home from Nevis–Saturday, April 28 (Day 0)

Receive ECFMG identification number/setup password–Monday, May 7 (Day 9)

Receive confirmation that online application submitted/Mail off Form 186 to school offices–Wednesday, May 9 (Day 11)

Receive notification that online application received–Thursday, May 10 (Day 12)

Receive notification that ECFMG has received completed Form 186 from school and will now start processing application–Wednesday, June 6 (Day 39)

Receive notification that ECFMG has reviewed Form 186 and online application together and has APPROVED test date range of June 1-August 31, but must wait to receive scheduling permit–Tuesday, June 19 (Day 52)

Receive notification that scheduling permit is available and ready for printing!/Scheduling successful!–Friday, June 22 (Day 55)

July 23–TEST DATE (Day 86)

August 15–Scores received (Day 109)


June 14, 2012

My apologies for the extended absence…not much to share.  Still working on weight loss–up to -22 lbs since I got home, -59 overall.  Lots of gym time, few carbs.  It goes.  Lots of practice questions, scanning through Kaplan and First Aid books while I’m at the gym.  Getting plenty of rest and taking breaks as I should.  One thing I learned today during my “webinar” with the clinicals department, that I should be doing but haven’t so far, is taking self-assessments.  Like the one that comes with Kaplan, or with U-World, or the expensive preferred ones from the NBME.  They’re more realistic than just the question bank questions in terms of difficulty, endurance, etc.  Also, I was informed that ~200 practice questions daily is the ideal number that we should all strive for at this point.  Hmm…

Onto my main soapbox, (I’ve talked about this briefly before) I want to stress to the students still in basic sciences on Nevis the importance of making sure that you get home and get started on your USMLE Step I application ASAP.  I had read, begrudgingly, from upper-Meds that the process took a while, but I am quite frankly FLABBERGASTED at how long the process takes.  As many meetings as you have with the clinical dean and her staff, they never tell you HOW LONG the process takes when you’re an IMG dealing with the ECFMG trying to sign up for the USMLE Step I.

A lot of what I’ve been doing over the past couple months has been hurry up and wait.  I found out, after I rushed all my medical forms, in talking to other students that the school WILL process your paperwork to apply for the Step I if your medical forms are incomplete.  ::Argh::  There are still people waiting on titers to be drawn and to get a second TB test and they already have test dates scheduled.  So, rush that stuff but you need to start dealing with the ECFMG peeps first.  So, the process is actually pretty complicated:

First you have to log on to the ECFMG website and get yourself an identification number with them.  It involves giving them a bunch of personal information and a few days’ time while they verify that you do indeed exist. They’ll send you an email eventually with your identification number.  This takes 3-5 days.

After they email that, you have to log back on to the website and apply to be eligible to take the USMLE step I.  This is much more complicated.  You fill out an extensive online application with much personal information and school information (they give you a guide sheet to fill this out during your last meeting with the clinical dean), then at the end, you have to pay them ::gasp:: something like $800 (because you’re an IMG) to be able to take the Step I, then you’re provided a “Form 186” that you have to print out and sign.  You have to send that form with a recent passport photo to the clinicals office, who will sign it to verify that you did indeed complete basic sciences at the school and are eligible from their perspective to take the USMLE Step I.  They send it on to Philadelphia to the ECFMG people, who THEN review your online application in addition to the completed form 186.  This is the step in the process I’m stuck at right now.  The problem is two-fold:  it seems to take the school an unusually long time to sign your form and send it to Philadelphia (2-4 weeks), and then once ECFMG people receive it, there is a 3-week processing delay while they verify all of the information.  You aren’t told ANY of this during those oh-so-important dean meetings you have to go to when you’re exhausted in 5th semester.

The last couple steps are just from what people who have already completed them have told me.  Apparently after the ECFMG approves your application, you’re cleared to take the Step I so you can choose your test site–Prometric, just like the MCAT–and date.  But then, there is an additional 1-week waiting period while you wait for a “scheduling permit” from the ECFMG.

We got out of class April 15thish.  If you stick to the “3-month deadline” to take the test that the school initially lays out, that means you need to test by July 15thish.  It’s June 15thish, meaning I have a month left, and I still am not even eligible to SCHEDULE my test yet.  So my initial planned test window of late June is obliterated.  I’m going to be pushing it to make it in by July 15th.

So, the point of all this is to say:

1)  Come home and start your application ASAP.

2) Be flexible with your anticipated test date–it’ll more than likely be pushed back.

3) Be prepared to expect delays in processing on both the school’s end of things as well as ECFMG’s.  Just don’t get bent out of shape and do something stupid like call the office and have a temper tantrum with the ladies who control your future for the next 2 years.  (No, not me but people I know…)

That’s all.  Hope you’re all well.  Bed time.  Increased cerebral temperature due to exercise means increased delta sleep. 😀