RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

In what has become routine, Brittany Lewis studies as son Santana Jones, 5, has breakfast in their Sacramento apartment. Lewis awaits results of medical boards she recently took. Santana says he's in the class of '28.

Despite hard work, single mother fails medical school test

Published: Friday, May. 4, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 29, 2012 - 5:50 pm

Results of the medical boards are in.

Brittany Lewis, a UC Davis third-year medical student and the single parent of a 5-year-old boy, checked her results Wednesday. She did not pass.

"I'm stunned," said Lewis, 25, who has always done well in school.

Lewis logged on to her computer that morning to see how she did on the United States Medical Licensing Exam, a seven-hour test known as the medical boards. The USMLE is considered the first major step on the journey to becoming a doctor.

"I kept staring at the computer to see if it was right," said Lewis, whose story was chronicled April 17 in a Bee article. Lewis scored three points below passing.

In 2010, about 8 percent of students at medical schools in the United States and Canada failed the test, according to the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Of an average 105 UC Davis medical students who take the test every year, four or five fail, according to Fred Meyer, executive associate dean of the UC Davis Health System.

Lewis is disappointed but is already thinking about what she needs to do next. "I chose an extremely difficult field, and it's even more so for a single parent, because I don't have as much time to study," Lewis said. "But I'm going to keep going. My goals haven't changed."

Later this month, Lewis will travel to Texas to take an intense, three-week test preparation course.

She will focus on hematology, cardiology and embryology. "Those were the subjects I did well on during practice tests but not on the exam," Lewis said. "I think I was worried about time and I just rushed through them." She will take the test again in July.

She has not told her son Santana about the test yet. Right now he is looking forward to an upcoming birthday party.

"That's what I have to focus on now," Lewis said. "And then it's back to the books."

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