An Open Letter to the Boards

Dear Boards,

Well, our last twelve months together have been a mixture of emotions, ups and downs, lessons, pain, and maybe one or two victories. I first heard the horror stories about you during first year of residency, but at that point I (along with my peers) was just trying to keep my head above water and learn some real medicine. As second year came along, the reality of having to face you soon became slightly more anxiety-provoking. But there was another year yet until I really had to face the facts. Literally. When third year started, it was game time. I had a plan to conquer you, even if it meant reading for 10 minutes on a post-call day after approximately zero minutes of sleep in the previous 30 hours. I “leisurely” read one section per month, straggling somewhat behind in the spring months when wards and ICU took up most of the day (and night). Thankfully I had a solid six weeks of pure studying after third year ended, for better or worse.

Now that we have finally met face to face and battled it out, I can reflect. Below is a condensed summary of our time together:

What I despised
1. The constant level of anxiety underlying every moment of every day
2. Looking at the breadth of information and worrying that I could never possibly get through it all
3. Getting through it all 2-3 times over and still feeling worried
4. Studying before/during/after work
5. Having to choose between going to the gym or staying home to study (as gym takes upwards of 2.5 hours including transit time, stretching, and showering…2.5 hours that could be spent studying)
6. Dropping 1,365 big ones on you. That was half my month’s pay.

What I learned
1. A WHOLE lot of medicine
2. The difference between autoimmune hemolytic anemia and microangiopathic hemolytic anemia (finally!)
3. The importance of making a study schedule and trying my darndest to stick to it
4. Taking a complete day off once in a while is good for sanity (lesson from husband)
5. Publix makes some amazing chocolate moose tracks ice cream


What I diagnosed myself with as I studied
1. Hypothyroidism
2. Ankylosing spondylitis
3. Sarcoid ankles
4. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)*
5. Chronic cough due to post-nasal drip*

*I actually had these


What I enjoyed while studying
1. Getting back to a regular exercise schedule
2. Spending quality time with my study buddies (see below)
3. Hearing my non-medical field husband pronounce words like “pancreaticoduodenectomy” and say “Ew!” whenever a question stem mentioned bloody diarrhea or urethral discharge.
4. A normalized sleep schedule
5. Discovering that the coffee shop where I studied (Coffee Mill) was owned by New Orleanians after I heard a Rebirth Brass Band song on their playlist


What I look forward to
1. Not feeling guilty at watching more than 30 minutes of TV in a 24 hour time span
2. Not waking up every single day to some kind of study material
3. Utilizing my newfound/strengthened knowledge in the care of future patients
4. Easing my hypochondriasis
5. Hopefully not having to meet you for another 10 years
6. The final season of Breaking Bad in all its glory


It’s been real, boards. It’s nothing personal, but our time together has come to an end. I’m off to the movies!

Forever in awe,


This is in response to the Daily Post challenge: The Art of the Open Letter

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