The One Where I Registered for Step 2 CK and CS

This week, my class was mandated to attend a sort of “Career Day,” which consisted of a room full of tables staffed by residency directors, attendings, and residents from the various residency options available to graduating medical students.

Except before we got to meet with these physicians, the administration demonstrated its ability to terrify me using just two PowerPoint slides. Suddenly, I could see the major due dates of the next 18 months of my life condensed into a few dozen lines of text.  After years of feeling as though graduation would forever be a distant thought, the reality of the fast-approaching end of medical school hit like a ton of bricks.

…it can’t be. It just can’t be…

Among these important dates was a reminder to register for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS) exams.* Always an early-bird, I decided to submit my registration this morning to ensure my ability to schedule the testing date of my choice.

And as if paying thousands per year to work my butt off at the hospital isn’t enough, I was reminded that a medical license doesn’t come cheap either.

The grand total for both exams, not including travel costs to CS?

One thousand seven hundred dollars.


You heard me. $1700 to spend several more hours of my life in relatively miserable situations.

Next time I drop $1700 in one shot, I hope it’s for Eurotrip: Remix, or one of the other thousand more desirable scenarios.

Medicine, you are SO lucky I love you.

*CK is a multiple choice test much like the Step 1 beast I tamed this past May. CS is a whole new monster involving observed interactions with standardized patient actors, which is available in only five American cities.


3 thoughts on “The One Where I Registered for Step 2 CK and CS

  1. Having taken CS, I would add the following thought: please for the love of all that you hold dear, schedule CS at the very beginning of fourth year. Having taken CS in the midst of four months of neurosurgery sub-I’s, I didn’t particularly enjoy being flogged by patients with depression, abdominal pain, and other things that I hadn’t thought about for quite some time. Not that I’m particularly concerned about being in the 2% of folks who fail, and it was a nice excuse for a vacation, but having CS conflict with interview scheduling is not fun.

    Likewise for CK, if you want to take it later in the year so that your score doesn’t show up to programs before they decide whether to interview you, then fine (that’s what I did), but you’re going to do better in July than you will in November simply because third year is (relatively) fresher in your mind. And I am quickly realizing that studying in the midst of weeks of traveling for interviews, finishing up a few manuscripts for publication, having a smidgen of a social life and trying to enjoy fourth year, well … lets just say that my planning was a bit optimistic. It’s a lot easier to take a CK study month in July than later in the year.

    Enjoy third year. -TS

    • Thank you so much for the advice, it was very helpful! I will definitely keep that in mind as I pick my dates. I’m leaning toward taking CK in late May since I end my Medicine a few weeks before and will likely be as prepared as I’m ever going to be.

      As for CS, my big decision is on location… I can’t decide whether to choose my location based on an opportunity to visit family or an opportunity to visit a new city…

      • We enjoyed the travel, but we also didn’t have the option of visiting family in any of the fair cities selected by the USMLE for the honor of administering CS.

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