A ubiquitous question on the interview trail, whether for medical school or for residency, was "How do you handle stress?"
I've given a variety of answers to this question. But thinking about it, I'm not so sure I even know what this question means.
How do I handle stress?
Does this mean, what do I do when there are stressful situations so I don't get stressed out?
Procrastinate, blog, watch as many Office re-runs as I can, sleep until noon. Well, that's what I would like to do, at least. I don't usually have the opportunity.
Most of the time, I just have to face stress head on. As in, Deal With It.
Which means I am stressed out. A lot.
So, does the question mean, what do I do when I am stressed out?
No one wants to hear the truth to that.
No one wants to hear that I get short-tempered with my family. That I find myself reading the same line in the text book over and over, and still nothing has made it into my gray matter. That I wake up at 2 am with my heart racing and can't get back to sleep. That I resort to eating handfuls of Skittles and neglect to cook my family dinner, or help with dishes or laundry.
That wasn't ever the answer I gave when I interviewed. Obviously.
But that's been reality here for the last couple of weeks. Ever since I decided that a couple of weeks should be plenty of time to study for Step 3 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. A 2 day, 16 hour exam.
I've spent two weeks with my review book on my lab and my computer screen with thousands of questions in front of me. I've imposed a hermitage in our office and barked at anyone who dared enter. Or make too much noise in the hall. Or even, dare I say it, anyone who asked me to come to dinner. I've got my Skittles, I'm fine.
But I'm done.
And the January statistics report?
Weeks studying: 2
Hours a day: 5
Review book: read twice
Practice questions: 1250
Days testing: 2
Hours of testing in those 2 days: 12.5
Weeks waiting for my score: 6
Chances I'll have to do this again: ?
I know they ask that question on interviews to make sure you have some coping mechanisms (that don't involve rainbow colored candy.) They don't want to take on a resident that screams at nurses or melts into a puddle of tears in the middle of the ICU.
But I think a much more important question is this: "What do you do for fun?"
And that's this weekend is all about!
So, I'll see you Sunday evening. Right now, I've got two boys who are waiting to celebrate with me with a crazy game of Wii Bowling!