The No-Meat Fast

I am pleased to report to all the cherished readers of this blog that I have passed Step 2 CK! Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve the 95 or above goal I’d been reaching for but I was able to improve upon my Step 1 score and for that, I’m pretty happy. Once again, the USMLE World Self-Assessment Exam was an excellent predictor of my actual score (I scored 2 points higher on the sim exam than I did on the real thing). I could’ve been a bit more diligent and honestly, I wish I’d had more time to dedicate to study isolation but still, I’m not unhappy with how it turned out. Had I managed a 95, I’d say I was proud of myself but with my 89, I’m content.

My cousin (who is one of my best friends and my faith role model) happens to be a very talented preacher and one of the things he often mentions in his teachings is fasting. Usually, I kinda zone out when talk of turning down one’s plate comes up. I guess I’m greedy and I sort of wondered why prayer wouldn’t be enough. When my more religious pals would talk about fasting for their high holy days, I’d admire their fortitude and self-control but think that I could never be devoted enough to do it.

After CK, I was pretty anxious about my performance. I hadn’t gone through UWorld at least 2 times, I hadn’t watched any bootleg test prep videos and the week before the exam, I succumbed to study fatigue and randomly slacked on question blocks to watch old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Powerpuff Girls. I was really at a loss on how not to fall into depression or go insane worrying that I’d failed when the idea of fasting came up again.

I began to consider the rationale behind fasting and something occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of before: the idea of sacrifice. It seemed like one of the main points of fasting was to make a sacrifice of something as an offering to God, a practice practically all the religions I’ve studied have in common. The end goal could be something as profound as strengthening one’s spiritual relationship but it could be something as simple and secular as a request. Instead of just wishing or hoping for something, one could make a pact – ‘I’m willing to sacrifice x for Your help with this one, God. I’ll make an offering of trust to back it up’. With this in mind, I decided to try this undertaking. For a little over a month, I became, essentially, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I vowed to give up meat until I received my step score.

The idea was that by sacrificing something I enjoyed, I could offer it in exchange for peace of mind and a decent outcome. Every time the urge to eat meat became particularly strong, I’d say a quick prayer of thanks for the willpower to resist. Most of the people around me were pretty supportive but occassionally, my family would inadvertently tempt me by bringing home wonderful meat dishes I loved and “forgetting” that I couldn’t eat them. I did slip up once when I’d ordered what I thought was a vegetarian maki from my favorite sushi restaurant but which turned out to be one topped with succulent salmon and stuffed with 海老フライ (I ate it anyway because my dad had gone all the way to Union Turnpike to get it for me) but otherwise, I was able to stick with it. When I started receiving invitations to interview, my brother suggested that perhaps it was a sign that I didn’t need to fast anymore, since apparently, programs were interested enough to want to meet me without the CK score. I was still skeptical. After all, they’d lose interest real quick if I ended up failing. Every Wednesday I’d check my inbox for an email from ECFMG and when it didn’t materialize, I’d tack another week onto my fast.

On September 28th, I got what I’d fasted for: a decent passing score. I celebrated this achievement by having a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch and later that evening, devouring my mom’s balsamic chicken stir-fry for dinner. The very next day, I received an email from one of the family medicine residency programs that had sent me an invitation to interview. Apparently, they’d left my name off their official list and filled up their interview schedule. Would I like to be put on a wait list? I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I should have stayed a vegetarian…

So, the question is did fasting really contribute to my success? I’m inclined to believe that it did have some benefit. Instead of agonizing for the 6 weeks it took to get my results, I focused on other things, like finding veggie alternatives to my favorite foods. I’m still exploring the breadth and depth of my faith but I’ve found that some of the academic challenges I’ve faced have served not only to test my knowledge base but to strengthen my belief in the power of prayer and enhance my sense of spirituality. I guess I now believe in fasting as well.

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2 Comments on “The No-Meat Fast”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Congratulations with passing CK and getting interview invites!!! I have followed your blog when I was studying for Step1 and I can relate to your post with the Ross experience and COMP. I am in a similar situation because I started rotation September 2011 and scrambling to have Ross schedule my remaining cores and electives so I can make 2013 match. Since you are trying to make 2012 match and started your first rotation in October 2010, I’m correlating the timeline and following when you take important tests, going to interviews, etc. and trying to fit the same timeline as yours. In short, thank you so much for your wonderful and informative posts. I’m sure you inspire a lot more people than you might think! Keep it up and good luck on your interview trails.

  2. anonymous Says:

    Congratulations with passing CK and getting interview invites!!! I have followed your blog when I was studying for Step1 and I can relate to COMP and the Ross experience in general. I am in a similar situation as I started rotation in September 2011 and I’m trying to have Ross schedule the remaining cores and electives to make 2013 match. Since you started rotation in October 2010 and trying to match 2012, I’m correlating your clinical schedule, testing dates, and interview period with my own schedule to make sure that I can also graduate on time. In short, thank you for your wonderful and informative blog. I’m sure that you inspire more people than you might think! Good luck with the rest of your rotations and your upcoming interviews.

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