If MS1 is treading water, MS2 is a water slide. You start to feel like your gaining competence of knowledge in important clinical disorders, then *whoosh* you move on to a new block and said knowledge goes sliding down the level III watery loop-dee-loop. You start to feel good about coming up with focused and pertinent differentials for patients then *whoosh* a patient comes along who you have no idea how to even begin to workup with nonexistent or contradictory clinical findings and a poor history. You start to feel competent at the lung, abdominal, or head and neck physical exam and *whoosh* a patient comes along with a vague shoulder complaint and you're left flapping the patients arm pathetically attempting to perform a musculoskeletal exam.
As I've stated before, MS2 is a lot more fun than MS1. The information is a lot more enjoyable and pertinent to your medical education, and the days and page upon page of syllabus tend to cruise by at a more enjoyable clip as a result. This definitely has its upsides, but also acts as a double edged sword, because it's info you feel like you should be holding onto but the pathetic biology of your brain and its synapses prevents you from doing so.
If I saw a patient with chest pain back in October, when we had just finished up our cardiovascular pathophys block, I was AWESOME at coming up with a differential diagnosis. Slap an EKG on that sucker and I could tell you exactly what was up, if anything. Fast forward to mid-November, with yours truly currently over a month removed from CV and slogging towards the end of our GI block, and my differential for chest pain would look something like:
(2) Heart Stuff
In MS2, the blessing of your experience is that you're starting to gain some competency in your physical exam skills. Not to toot my own horn, but there's a fairly decent number of common complaints I've been seeing these days where I can come up pertinent PE findings and a decent treatment plan. Cold symptoms, abdominal symptoms, etc. But you start to pick up on your serious deficiencies also. Ask me to pick up on your heart murmur? Fat chance, it'll get figured out when you go into heart failure and present to the ER. Tell me there's a heart murmur and then ask me to listen for it? 90% chance I'll hear it. How I can get better at this besides making the patient lie there awkwardly in dead silence for 5 minutes while I listen to S1-S2-Between and the patient wonders why the "medical student" who looks old enough to be on their kid's t-ball team stares at their bare chest with a disconcerted look on their face... I have no idea.
The further I get into medical school, the further I seem to look forward. As an MS1, you're so far removed from your future self that to think of who you'll be as a clinician is something akin to the "what I want to be when I grow up" presentation in kindergarten. But the more experience I garner around patients and around various clinicians, the more I pick up on the do's and dont's I can see myself realistically integrating into my own practice in the future. As an MS1 I was content to trudge along in my BS classes, taking each block and exam in stride. And now, as much as I'm enjoying MS2, I was just want the year to be over so I can move on to my clinical rotations and actually learn on the fly. Only problem with that is that the Step I thundercloud has also crested the mountain and come into view. I've been pretty good at putting off thinking about boards but the thoughts of what it would actually mean if I fail or don't do as well as I need to are starting to creep into my consciousness. It still feels like September to me, time has flown by so quickly this year, so I know I'm going to blink and its going to be May.
And so the march goes on. 5 steps forward, 4 steps back.