A pediatric residency is three years, and during that time you can lose a lot of the good study habits and test-taking skills that you gained during medical school. And let’s face it—when you’re in your residency, you’re not always hitting the books. You’re probably working 80-hour weeks during your residency and it can seem impossible to get any studying done for the pediatric boards.
But there are small habits that you can get into during your residency that will better prepare you for your pediatric boards—little things that may not seem like much at the time, but they really do make a difference.
It’s easy to procrastinate and push the boards to the back of our minds because they’re not coming up right away. This is a bad strategy. The boards will happen at the end of your residency, and when they do come, you’re going to wish you had spent more time preparing for them.
So what can you do to study for your pediatric boards during your residency?
Studying For Your Pediatric Boards During Pediatric Inpatient Rotations
When you’re doing an inpatient pediatric rotation, you’re often moving at a frantic pace. You’re probably working with eight to ten patients, moving from one to the next (and the next and the next…). Here’s what you can do. Stop for a moment, maybe 1-3 minutes, to study the biggest problem with each patient.
You don’t even need to sit down at a computer. In the hall, pull up the PBR study guide on your phone and search for their primary condition, read a brief synopsis on the topic, or dive a little deeper if you have a problem that’s stumping you. This micro-studying approach will take very little time, but by the end of the shift you will have familiarized yourself with board-relevant information that you can also share during morning rounds to amaze your attending physician.
This process alone will put you ahead of 90% of the pack because most pediatric residents put off studying for their boards until the last possible moment. Then comes the mad scramble to relearn everything they’ve forgotten and learn about many new disorders they never even had the opportunity to encounter during residency.
Studying For Your Pediatric Boards During Elective Rotations
Pediatric board study tips for when you are on elective rotations revolve around using that time to read through at least one full chapter. There are some sections of the pediatric boards, like infectious disease, for example, that are in-depth and require some major study. While you’re working on an elective rotation, you’ll have more time to devote to entire chapters of the study guide—especially when it’s related to the elective rotation you’re working on. So, while you’re doing cardiology, study your pediatric cardiology chapter. While you’re doing a neonatology rotation, study your neonatology chapter.
It’s easier to learn about cardiology while you’re surrounded by cardiology patients and a cardiologist. It’s easier to learn about infectious disease while you’re immersed in an infectious diseases rotation and you have an attending physician to discuss topics with every day.
Maintain Your Studying Skills and Develop Test-Taking Skills
Test taking is about knowing the material and having good test-taking skills. You have to know the information, be good about time management, understand the question formats, and recognize patterns. While in medical school, you were a studier because that was your one job. Once you’re deep into residency, it can become very difficult to establish good study habits due to fatigue and distractions from your real job.
Since the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) initial certification exam will be the hardest exam of your life, it’s important to put in the right amount of time and effort to pass the exam. To best prepare, first off, use our Risk Calculator. This will determine your risk profile for failing the boards and provide a clear plan based on that profile. Here are some of the danger signs we look for in the Risk Calculator:
A history of struggling to pass ANY medical board exam
A history of board scores that are usually lower than the national average
Residency training at an “at risk” residency program
Once you know your risk profile, you can choose a study method that’s best for you. Our study guides emphasize three things: Content, Technique, and Commitment. All three are essential for you to pass the pediatric boards. You must know the content inside and out, which means that even a moderate amount of studying throughout your residency will help immensely. You must develop good testing technique, which means taking the time to understand how to process different types of board-style questions and then practicing your new test-taking skills until you master them. And, you must have the commitment to follow through with these things throughout your residency.
A three-year residency may seem like a long time to prepare for your boards, but it’s only useful if you are steadily doing some work during those years. This is not a test that you can cram for at the last minute.
Studying is Easier With a Partner
We know, through experience, that studying is considerably more effective if it’s done with a partner. So, we’ve prepared our programs with a considerable discount if a fellow resident signs up for our study guides with you. You’ll both have the benefit of our efficiency-driven study tools and materials, all for a lower price. Plus, you’ll have a partner to bounce ideas back and forth, get immediate feedback, quiz one another, and have much needed moral support. There’s no underestimating the value of a good study partner.
Make Use of Your Book Fund
If a book fund is available to you through your residency program, you can use those funds with Pediatric Board Review to get our courses and study guides. We are very accustomed to working with department staff to get orders processed quickly. This is a great way to maximize every dollar at your disposal!
Stretch Your Studying Over Years
If you’re a PGY1 or PGY2 needing access for multiple years, you can also get massive discounts through PBR. So, not only are you getting the benefit of starting your studying early during the early years of your pediatric residency training, but you’re able to save money too! It’s a win-win.
Over the last decade, PBR has helped over 10,000 pediatricians prepare for their board exams. We’re excited to help you on this journey!
Creating pediatric mnemonics can be a lifesaver for the boards. Did you know that most memory champions in the world do NOT have a photographic memory? They actually TRAIN their brains to remember lists, names and other random facts. So trust me when I say that you can too!
As doctors, most of us were in the top 10% of our class until we hit medical school, but that doesn't mean it’s easy for us to retain the vast amounts of knowledge necessary to pass the pediatric boards. I remember the overwhelming feeling of being crushed by all of the information I was being bombarded with during my studies.
It wasn't until I learned how to create pediatric mnemonics and memory aids that I was finally able to feel comfortable with the idea of housing all of that information in my brain. The mnemonics I created were essential in helping me retain information and pass the USMLE Step exams as well as the pediatric initial certification exam.
So, unless you’ve got a photographic memory, I’d highly recommend spending some time learning memory techniques.
Improving pediatric residency in-training exam scores can be challenging. In this PBR article, we look at “tech” and whether or not new “tech” is better than tried and true methods.
I’ve always been a huge advocate of embracing technology as it relates to medicine and accelerating learning. Especially when your time is almost nonexistent, like when you're in pediatric residency, the speed with which you can locate information is a valuable asset.
The growth and availability of e-books and online study materials have certainly expanded the number of resources available to medical students and residents. Traditional study materials, where a student spends vast amounts of time pouring over textbooks, are quickly being replaced by electronic and digital resources.
Pediatrics Board Review (PBR) has tried to embrace many of the advantages offered by technology, so both the PBR Core Study Guide and the PBR Question and Answer book have been made available for access on iPads, iPhones, and via your desktop computer.
The question is … Is this “E-time” well spent?
There’s a growing body of evidence that indicates that the brain absorbs information from transmitted light differently from information received from reflected light. The visual cortex processes Click Here And Continue Reading...
Propinqua-what? And what does that have to do with improving in-training exam scores?
The word is PROPINQUITY!
In a recent article titled, “Tips #1 & 2 – Start Early & Work Smart!” I talk about the direct correlation between residency in-training exam scores and the number of hospital admissions a resident does. I also discuss a study which shows that in-training exam scores do in fact act as indicators of a resident’s ability to pass the board certification exam.
In this article, I’ll talk about improving in-training exam scores by using propinquity. I was recently introduced to the idea of propinquity while reading Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, by Kerry Patterson. The book discusses strategies used by some of the most influential people around the world to influence change in all different aspects of life.
Webster defines propinquity as “nearness in place or time.” In the book, one of the sources of influence is the environment. The idea here is that that in many situations, you can effect change by modifying the environmental relationship of one variable with another. By altering the relationship of place or time between variables.
Now, let’s think of an example of how this concept might be utilized within pediatric residency programs to increase in-training exam scores.
Meet this set of twin sisters, Dr. Tracy Smith and Dr. Penny Smith. Both went to the same college. Both went to the same medical school. Both scored similarly on the MCAT as well as their USMLE Step exams. Their scores were never amazing, but they did well enough to pass. They’re both now pediatric residents, but Click Here And Continue Reading…
In the PBR article called “Can I Improve Pediatrics In-Training Exam Scores For Myself? Or For My Program?” I released survey results from recent test-takers who took their pediatric boards in October. It was clear that the lack of “early board-focused preparation during residency” is a prevalent theme across pediatric residency programs across the country. While residents can hope that their program will do a good job of preparing them for the boards, residents can’t really expect this unless there’s a proven track record within the institution for success on the boards.
Keeping that in mind, I’m now writing a series of articles about how residents can take matters into their own hands to increase their residency in-training exam scores and potentially their chances of passing the boards as well.
Let’s start with 2 very important questions. Then, I'll give you 2 very simple recommendations that could set you on the right path starting NOW towards studying for the pediatric in-service exam and ultimately PASSING the pediatric boards!
DO IN-TRAINING EXAM SCORES REALLY CORRELATE WITH BOARD PASS RATES?
Have you heard? The initial certification exam for the pediatric boards was LAST WEEK! I performed a survey afterwards because I wanted to know how well my Pediatrics Board Review (PBR) system prepared PBR members for the exam. I also wanted to know how to better prepare pediatricians and pediatric residents for the boards.
THE BEST PEDIATRICS BOARD REVIEW SYSTEM OUT THERE!
While I did get some great “feedback” on how I can make the PBR system even better, check out these stats:
100% of the respondents were happy to have found PBR.
0% said they wished they had used something else.
IMPROVING PREPARATION FOR THE PEDIATRIC BOARDS
Almost 50% of the respondents commented on how they wish they had the PBR available to them during their residency training. There was a ton of great discussion between the members of the PBR community and myself about how things could have been different, and should be different, when it comes to preparing for this brutal exam.