Post-Step Anxiety and Results

Hello everyone! So…the last couple of blogs have been pretty difficult to write and share. Thank you all so much for reading it and sending me messages, I appreciate it! I just wanted to follow up on what waiting for scores has been like. I will try to make this one really short so that I can post this one ASAP. I hope you enjoy it!!!!

So, I had finally taken Step One. I wanted to experience this so badly because I wanted my freedom back. Literally, three whole months of my life have been dedicated solely to this exam and the first two years of medical school have been leading up to preparing for it. So I was over it.

I had taken my exam on May 21st and I had until July 6th before scores would come out. That’s almost seven weeks long. I decided that I was going to try to live my life before I *hopefully* passed. I mean, I should, right?

For the next couple of days, I did just that. I went back to my school’s Friday sessions, caught up on service hours, met up with so many friends and family, went to a wedding, graduation party, appointments, etc. During that time, I had also sprained my ankle which was an unfortunate scenario but I was grateful that it occurred after I had taken step and not before. It truly felt like I was playing catch up because I had lost so much time due to step studying. I was happy to be back in the real world and to not study but I always had a thought in the back of my mind. I still do not know if I passed step.

During the end of May, the thought did not affect me too much because I was super busy. But once June hit, the reality started to sink in. By that time, I was typing up the previous two blogs and was having PTSD from all of the experiences that I went through to get to this point. And I was scared that I would have to go through that again. What if I was waiting all this time only to not pass? What if I have to reregister for Step One again? What if I have to go to the library and do Uworld again? And take NBMEs? And watch more videos? And live through this all over again? What if?

Sometimes, I would just stay up, thinking about the worst possible scenario, just crying. I did not have the energy to go through this again, I truly did not. I even started to have terrifying dreams about failing it. Oh no, I thought. What if they are true? What if I actually failed?

I thought going back to the 3rd year Friday classes would be easier since I had taken step but it was still hard. People would still ask me which rotation I was on and what I was doing. When I told them I was waiting for step scores, they would wish me good luck and say that they were sure that I passed. But I was scared. Many people have failed. People who were brilliant and knew their stuff when we were in class. Better than me. So if they did not pass, what is the possibility that I would?

I started to fall back into the tendencies I started while I was studying for step…avoiding people. I would still go out to events and meet-ups, but the minute step was mentioned I would clock out and try to leave. I did not want people to know that I was still waiting. That even though I had taken step, my journey was probably not over. As I was typing the previous blog, I kept thinking, what’s the point? I do not even know if I passed? If I do not pass, I will not tell anyone about it. That would be soo embarrassing.

I even did a write-up, imagining what I would do if I did fail and what would happen next. I wrote it all in my notes and if you want to read it, it’s down below:

Writing that was very very scary but a bit relieving. I knew that whichever scenario occurred that I would ultimately be ok. That God was by my side. Because even though I did not want to fail, it was still a possibility.

I also decided to block any type of social media including Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. I did not want to feel anxious reading up on how people felt while we waited during these agonizing weeks. Especially on Reddit people were talking about how they thought the exam was super hard, how they felt like they failed etc. Those posts were doing a number on me and I was not having it. I had to stop reading them. I also blocked off anything on Youtube that would mention step or medical school. I did not want to think about it at all. Youtube was my happy place and I was going to try to make it remain that like no matter what.

Time was slowly going by. I was doing research and helping at a summer Islamic program. I was trying to busy myself without thinking about scores. But the thought was still there. Each day, there was always a countdown in my head. My anxiety would heighten as the days came closer to me knowing my score. I would text my mentors asking them for advice. Is this how people felt while waiting? I was so shocked to find out that yes, this was how it is. How come people never talked about it? How come people acted like things were normal, when in fact, it is the most anxiety-inducing thing in the world? How come? It just did not make sense to me. Maybe it’s because I wore my emotions on my sleeve while people could hide how they felt so effortlessly. I wish.

I tried to change the way I thought about it. Whether I passed or failed, these days would be my last days of freedom, so I better enjoy them. I would try to go to all of the food places that I wanted to go to, do things that I wanted to do while I was studying, and just tried to live as if everything would turn out ok.

Also, why did I think that I failed? I told myself. I wrote down all of the reasons why I thought I passed. I had pushed my exam back 4 times and I felt like the day I took it was the best time, I had passed UW1 and 3 NBMES, I got above a 70% on free120, I finished UW, Sketchy, and Pathoma, and most importantly God was with me. I was sure that I would pass. Like I forreal had to.

Thinking like that did help some, but I still kept thinking about failing. I could see my name and fail next to it. No, it won’t happen. It won’t. But what if it does?

Finally, it was July. June was definitely the hardest month for in terms of waiting, because now I knew that I would soon see my scores. Ya Rubb, please let me pass. 🀲🏾🀲🏾🀲🏾 I would just stay up and make dua over it. I also told people to pray for me. I did not want to retake step at all. I thought about how I started this step journey in February and here I was 5 months later in July, not truly knowing whether this would be over or not.

It was Independence Day weekend, and I could not believe that this would be the last weekend I had before knowing what my scores would be. This would be it. As the fireworks started going off in the sky, I was still thinking about my scores, hoping and praying that I passed.

One day, I started to break down. What if I have to retake this? I cannot go through this again. I really cannot. I just want to move on. I just want to start rotations. I do not want to be in this predicament again, please.

I was thinking about when I opened up my MCAT scores and how mortified I was when I saw that I did not get the score that I wanted. Even though everything has worked out in my favor by God’s will, I was still scared that I would open up my Step scores and go through something similar. I just knew that would break me.

I prayed and read my favorite surah in the Quran, surah Yusuf, to calm myself down. It is a story filled with trials and tribulations and it made me feel like I was not alone and that everything was going to be ok. I was so grateful that I could turn to my religion during my most difficult times because sometimes it feels like no one truly understood what I am going through. I feel like as the obstacles and challenges in medical school has gotten bigger, I had to amplify my faith and trust in God even more.

Finally, it was July 5th. In less than 34 hours, I would receive my scores. I tried to calm down. I talked to myself in the mirror and told myself “I believe that you passed, I just know it.” I just had a gut feeling and believed that I did not go through all of this without a reason. I just truly believed that I passed. Even though my dreams were telling me otherwise, I just believed that I was going to finally move on. Some people were so sweet texting and reaching out to me to pray for me. One of my friends, Fatima, even called me to wish me good luck the next day (honestly what a sweet gem).

In the ear morning hours of July 6th, I prayed and cried out. Please God, please let me pass. It was raining, and rain is usually a good sign of blessings in Islam. I thought about my whole journey from getting into medical school, finishing those first challenging years, taking the toughest exam of my life, and now waiting to see how I did. And I was so amazed and humbled. Back then, I thought I was not going to pass the other exams I had taken. I thought that I would have retaken some years of medical school. I thought that I would not be able to move on. Yet here I am. If God could do that for me then, then of course He could allow me to pass Step. You passed, I told myself. You passed.

I finally went to bed, but I tossed and turned. In just a couple hours, I would find out whether or not my beliefs about my scores matched reality. Instead of waking up around 9 am like I usually did, I woke up around 7:45 am. I got prepared to go the summer school and tried to busy myself but the countdown was happening in my head. Scores were going to come out around 11 am. This was it. This was it.

My mom called me to wish me good luck and my siblings told me that they were praying for me. I truly appreciated it. 😭 Two of my friends who had passed texted me their score reports when they did and I kept flipping through them in my photo album, envisioning my name in place of theirs. I finally got to the summer school around 10 am and started teaching. I felt each minute that went by. I felt my stomach churning and my breath halting. Please God, let me pass, please. I continuously looked at my phone when it hit 10:50 a.m. Then it was 10:55 a.m. 10:58. 10:59. 11:00.

I immediately went to my car leaving my students alone for a couple minutes. Sorry, this is important. Even though NBME did not send me an email, based on what my friends have told me in the past, the report should be available around 11. I flipped through my friends’ pass reports a couple of times before I finally went on the website. My anxiety was on high. I logged in and went to the main screen. There, I saw a button. Score report. Oh God, please, Bismillah. I clicked on the score report and it started to download. I could not open it immediately because I had to place it on the file app on my iPhone.

I saw the little image as I was trying to see the full download. Wait…this kind of looks like the pass report, right? Finally, I opened it on Files and saw PASS.

Wait, was it me who passed? I checked the name on the report and saw Oumou Alhassane Fofana.

I PASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALHAMDUDILLAH I PASSED!!!!!!

I started sobbing right then and there. I forreal could not believe it. I kept looking at the score report to make sure it was real. I passed! I passed!! I passed!!! I called my parents to tell them the good news. I passed Step One!

I literally started telling everyone. My phone blew up an hour later, everyone giving me their congrats and some of my peers told me they had passed as well!!!! I was honestly and truly happy for them!

My family was happy for me, they were glad that this was finally over (until Step 2 of course πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚). My sister even got me a cake which was so sweet of her. I went and got food with a friend that I have not seen in years and it was nice to catch up and be free. Afterward, I went to the library and printed out my score report to hang up. I knew that I was going to look at it to remind myself of God’s blessings on my life and that if He could get me through this then He could get me through anything!

And that’s pretty much it y’all. Whew, what a journey! Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading about my med school experience thus far. I truly appreciate it! Although I was fortunate enough to pass, some of my peers’ exams did not go as planned so please please please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. 😭😭😭🀲🏾🀲🏾🀲🏾

As of now, I am on rotations and I will keep you updated as I get through those. I am super excited to start this next part of my medical school career. I am almost there. Again, thank you all so much and I hope you receive great news as well!!!!!

2 thoughts on “Post-Step Anxiety and Results

Add yours

  1. Awww I am glad that it did! I’m sure you did amazing on your exam you truly deserve it! Lemme know the results when you get them!!!

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