I recently received new that I passed my Level 2 PE! So happy to have another board exam behind me. This exam is a pass/fail exam that assesses fundamental clinical skills. You are scored on your humanistic domain (interpersonal skills, professionalism) and biomedical domain (medical history and physical exam skills, documentation skills). I will be honest, when I started medical school I had never even heard of this exam, and even until 2nd year I still new very little about it. Here are a few things about the exam and how I prepared for the big day.
The only photo I took on exam day :-) Leaving the exam and ready to have some fun in Chicago!
What The exam assesses skills that are evaluated in the context of clinical encounters with standardized patients. There are 12 cases with14 minute patient encounters, followed by 9 minutes to write a SOAP note. Here is a chart that shows how the day is organized. It is a very long exam, but it surprisingly goes by rather quickly. Taking the exam in 4-case segments really helps to break up the day!
Where Sadly, this exam is only offered at two locations: Chicago, IL and Conshohocken, PA. I took my exam in Chicago. I stayed at the Springhill Suites, which was less than a mile from the testing center. There are quite a few hotels nearby since the testing center is right by the airport. My main requirement was the complimentary breakfast ;-) My exam was on a Thursday, and since I had Fridays off work that month, I decided to make a vacation out of it. My sisters, dad, and his girlfriend met me there and we had the BEST time! We ate our way through the city, did a little site-seeing, and enjoyed every minute of time with the fam. I love Chicago, so I was very happy with my choice to take the exam there, but I know a lot of people who choose Conshohocken and head to NYC after the exam for a weekend trip. Either way, use this exam as an excuse to take a vacation! You deserve it!
When I took my exam December 14th. This was a littler earlier than most of my classmates who are taking theirs this Spring/Summer (before 4th year). Our school requires us to have completed our family medicine and OMM rotations before taking the exam. I was lucky enough to have those rotations in October and November. So when a Chicago date was available at the beginning of December, I was all about getting it out of the way!
Preparing For The Exam I feel very fortunate to go to a school that really prepares their students for this exam. We have a brand new facility with a clinical skills area that closely mimics the testing center in Chicago. We have 3 required mock exams with 4 clinical encounters each. The encounters are recorded so we can watch how we interact with the patients. It is SUPER awkward watching yourself, but very helpful! I remember thinking "why in the world do I keep playing with my hair?" and "OMG, I say 'um' wayyy too much!" If your school does not provide these recorded mock exam for you, I highly suggest recording yourself doing your own mock exam with a friend as your patient. In addition to the mock exams put on by the school, I used First Aid Step 2 CS. The clinical scenarios in the book are gold. Cover up the differential diagnoses as you read the case presentation and see if you think of all the same differentials. A great way to really get yourself to think of all the possible things that could be going on with that patient.
Other suggested resources that I did not use, but have heard to be very helpful, include:
TrueLearnvideos: I watched a couple of these and they were really nice in that they show the entire patient interaction, including his thought process before even entering the room. They also show the completed SOAP notes for the case.
JB Review: This book was recommended to us by the school, and I have heard from a lot of people who have really liked it. It has pretty good reviews on Amazon, which, let's be honest, is how I judge everything.
What did you use to prepare? Any tips for Step/Level 2 CK/CE?
Here are some pics from our trip :-)
Got to meet up with my sweet friend, and best Chicago tour guide EVER, Chelsea!