On the morning Millie Gentry will take the hardest exam of her life, she is kneeling in a cupboard searching for a plastic container for oatmeal. The instant variety has become a staple of her diet, easily prepared and consumed under the diagram of kidney function in her kitchen or beneath the whiteboard at school where she drew viruses.
Soon she will be able to cook again. Shop again. Live again.
But first, Gentry, a second-year student at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, must take Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), otherwise known as the boards. It is an eight-hour marathon of specimen identification, graph interpretation and clinical problem solving covering pathology, microbiology and every other “ology” medical students should have learned by now.