Rounds to Residency

Step 2 Study Guru Secrets with Faustine Ramirez, MD

Dr. Faustine Ramirez, a 2nd year resident in pediatrics at UCSF and Step 2 Guru, talks about studying for Step 2 – which is likely to become the single most important factor in landing a competitive residency.

  • [01:55] Dr. Ramirez’s Study Guru Secrets
  • [12:14] Studying in a Clinical Setting
  • [16:54] Building Rapport with your Patients as a Student
  • [20:15] Building Healthy Habits and Personal Care for Medical Students
  • [24:15] The Shift of Importance from Step 1 to Step 2

Today, Chase DiMarco talks to Dr. Faustine Ramirez, MD. Dr. Ramirez has over a decade of teaching, tutoring, and mentoring experience and has been with MedSchoolCoach for around 3 years, tutoring for both step 1 and step 2. She scored in the 90th percentiles on both step exams and has been involved in a variety of leadership and clinical research experiences. Dr. Ramirez is currently a 2nd year resident in pediatrics at UCSF where she attended med school and designed and taught a course on clinical reasoning skills for 2nd-year medical students. Dr. Ramirez talks to Chase about studying for step 2 which is her favorite of the exams.

Experience with Studying for and Tutoring for Step 2

Dr. Ramirez’s advice for students is to create their very own study guides from their first year. Your own study guide can be an invaluable individualized resource that can prepare you for step 2 CK. It is advised that you add to it regularly and as you go through each rotation to make the most of it. Using a program like

OneNote or Evernote that you can download on all your devices allows you to use and review your notes on a regular basis, whether it be every night, on your rotations, at your hospital workstation, or in a more cumulative manner on the weekends. Dr. Ramirez’s advice is that you get through your notes as many times as you can before your shelf exam, using the repetition in a similar way that you would when using Anki. When your notes are all filed on 1 program or note-taking app, CTRL+F becomes a particularly useful function for organizing your notes and locating notes on subjects you may have covered before.

Anki is a great resource if you have time and can be used in a similar way to a study guide. However, Dr. Ramirez suggests that you create a broad framework in your own notes and use Anki for smaller memorization details. Anki becomes very useful when you have a broader structure or study guide that’s already organized by disease. Additionally, when using Anki, it is important to be consistent and make your own cards throughout 3rd year that you can go back to when you are studying for step 2. Four to six weeks before the exam is not enough time for a student to get into using Anki and make the most of it.

Studying in a Clinical Setting

Clinical skills and diagnostic skills are not necessarily tested in the board exams but sometimes your clinical experience provides a useful clinical framework that adds more nuance and detail to the context of your study material that can be handy when you are studying for step 2. Additionally, clinical principals often apply across specialties and are likely to be relevant in whatever specialty you end up choosing.

As a medical student, you have infinitely more time than you ever will as a resident. Use your extra time getting to know your patients and conducting a more thorough H and P than the residents could. You have the opportunity to gather more information about the patient’s social and family history as well as pertinent positives and pertinent negatives. This can be really important for the overall clinical picture and for rapport. Your patient may be more comfortable and more willing to share things with you that they otherwise may not have, which makes you a more valuable member of the team. Developing rapport-building skills can be particularly useful in pediatrics where the impact of the physician’s interaction with patients depends largely on how much the child trusts them and is comfortable around them.

Dr. Ramirez urges students to pay attention, commit to being involved and engaged, ask important questions, and try to get involved with as many patients as you can to add to their overall body of knowledge.

Personal Care

It is important that students continually remind themselves that their 3rd year is a marathon and not a sprint. There is an inordinate amount of responsibilities that seem to keep growing that you have to contend with in your 3rd year. When considering the weight of your clinical responsibilities, academic responsibilities, thinking about choosing a specialty, and thinking about all the things you have to do to be able to match into your specialty, it is crucial to commit to taking care of yourself and spending time doing things that are rewarding to you on a personal level. It is easy to lose track of self-care or think that you don’t have time or space for it, but even when it feels like it’s at the expense of your studying, in the long term your consistent self-care will be more beneficial to you.

Dr. Ramirez advises that you commit to your overall wellness as a human being outside of medicine. Early on in your studies, she advises that you build healthy habits and develop a sustainable routine as well as break unhealthy habits.

Get in touch with Dr. Ramirez through MedSchoolCoach. Sign up for a Free Coaching session with Chase DiMarco, sponsored by Prospective Doctor! You can also join the Med Mnemonist Mastermind FB Group today and learn more about study methods, memory techniques, and MORE! Do check out Read This Before Medical School. Like our FreeMedEd Facebook page and find our Medical Micro Course, Blog posts, and Podcasts at! Feel free to Email any Questions or Comments.

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of MedEd University, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist & Rounds to Residency podcasts creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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