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What Passing The Pediatric Boards Has Meant To Dr. Vincenzo

If Once You Don’t Succeed, Try 4 More Times?

Failed Pediatric Boards

Failed Stamp

Passing the pediatric boards didn’t come easy to me. I’ve taken the pediatric boards 5 times. Most of us see the boards as just another step on the route to becoming a pediatrician. However, when you sit back and think about it, it’s amazing to realize how long that journey really is. You graduate medical school, finish your pediatric residency, and if you’re lucky you might even find the time to get married. Then you go into private practice or fellowship, and you take the boards. It’s such an established route that many of us consider the boards to be a simple inconvenience. We take it for granted that we will pass. Most of us do, but there is a small group that fails each year, and if we fail, we find that our lives have been turned upside down.

Questions after question when you fail the boards

Man sitting on a Question mark

Friends and family struggle to believe that you haven’t passed, and ask questions that only emphasize how disappointed you feel, “You failed your boards? How is that possible? Are you sure?” or “Well, don't worry, you'll pass it the next time around. You're a doctor for God’s sake!”

That’s where it all starts. The feelings of inadequacy and incompetence, from which a lack of self-confidence emerges. The overwhelming panic about how you are going to study while working and balancing family life creeps in. After all that you’ve achieved, life has just thrown you a curve ball.

You see, I failed the boards… four times. I experienced all of these emotions, but when I settled down to study for my fifth attempt, I determined that this time it would be different. I researched the different study materials on offer, and visited several websites, trying to find one that worked for me.

It wasn’t until I came across the PBR site that I truly found study guides which worked for me. If you’ve looked around the Pediatrics Board Review website, you may have even seen my name mentioned in the article called, “Dr. Vincenzo Finally Passed the Pediatric Boards!

Passed the pediatric board exam

Passed Stamp

It may surprise you, but by using ONLY the PBR materials, I finally passed the boards on my fifth attempt in 2012. It was amazing. Passing the pediatrics boards is possible! I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I was. Actually, I think you can see for yourself by reading the testimonial I wrote HERE.

Now, almost 12 months later I sit at my desk thinking of the pediatricians who will take the boards this year. The time commitment and dedication required to pass is immense, but I can assure you, it will all be worth it in the end.

The thing that stood out for me on the PBR website was Ashish’s attitude. Here was someone, who like me, had failed the boards. Ashish understood how that felt, and not only had he put the effort in to nail the boards on the second attempt, he was sharing the benefit of his experience in the PBR course materials.

The very first article I read detailed how you should study one source, and study it well, even if it wasn't the PBR. I found that to be a very unselfish and powerful statement. In previous years, I had bought almost every review book out there, but in truth, I don’t think I finished even one of them. So, for 2012, I bought PBR and I studied it VERY well! It may sound incredible, but that really is all you need to do to pass. It wasn’t easy for me to do, but in retrospect, I am so thankful for that key piece of advice.

Pediatric Board Review on the iPad or Tablet

Logo in Tablet

I had chosen PBR because it was easy to read and I knew that I would be able to go through it many times. Each day I made a point of going over what I had studied previously. Then I started on something new. This helped to firmly cement what I had already reviewed. Studying at every opportunity was a priority for me: on the bus, during lunch, even in between patients. I found the iPad format particularly useful, because it meant I was immediately able to access images that related to the topic I was reading. I used every moment of free time available to me and results speak for themselves.

One thing I didn’t do was study any American Academy of Pediatrics PREP questions. I found them too tedious, and the explanations were too long and time consuming. I think Ashish talks more about why AAP Prep questions are NOT the best study questions in one of his PBR articles.

I also didn't join the pediatric Facebook group that Ashish started at the time, but with hindsight I wish I had. Nobody has time to study, but having a community that understands what you’re going through is key and helps to motivate you to carry on. I would recommend that anyone taking the boards this year takes advantage of PBR’s online community.

Beach vacation after passing the pediatric boards

Beach Vacation

Since passing the pediatric boards, I have taken several long overdue vacations. I can’t begin to explain to you how much easier it is to relax when you know you don’t have to study. This couldn’t have been achieved without the excellent PBR materials and support.

To those of you reading this article, thank you for allowing me to share my experience with you, and I hope the telling of my story helps you in some way. Also, if you would like to leave a comment below, I’ll be sure to followup.

And to Ashish, I am forever grateful to you and your incredible PBR! Continued success to you and all the pediatricians you help!


Dr. M. Vincenzo

American Board of Pediatrics Board Certified Pediatrician


Thank You Letters for Ashish

“Thank You” Letter

 Some notes from Ashish:

Thank you so much Dr. Vincenzo for sharing with me your story of what passing the pediatric boards has meant to you… and most of all for asking to share your story with others. This exam can wreak havoc on your life, but stories like this inspire and motivate.

To everyone else reading this article, if you know someone that’s taking the boards this year after failing before, please send them this article. I’m sure they’ll thank you for it. Also, it would be great if you would click the Facebook LIKE button on this page.

And if you’re not a PBR member yet, what are you waiting for?!? With board certification becoming an increasing necessity, just click HERE and make sure that you pass this time. And if you already have the PBR and need a detailed study schedule, click here, I guarantee it will help.

 Again, please:

  • Share this story
  • Click LIKE
  • Join the PBR “Crew” on Facebook
Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Rosalina Valcarcel -

THANKS for publishing Dr. Vincenzo’s inspiring words (it made me cry, thinking that finally I’ll be FAAP!) I’m a little “nervous” about taking the Boards this time. What techniques does Dr. Vincenzo or yourself recommend? Dr. Vincenzo, you didn’t do PREP questions???, just PBR material? If that’s so, it’s a big relief for me!!!!!! Please have Dr. Vincenzo reply to my comment, THANKS!!!! In success road and counting on God, Dr. Valcárcel

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hi Rosalina,

You’re quite welcome. I’ll reach out to Dr. V and I’m sure he’ll respond soon. My continued best wished to you towards the goal of being board-certified.

– Ashish

Dr. M. Vincenzo -

Hi Rosalina,

Having taken the boards many times, I knew I had to make a drastic change in my study habits. I first looked at my score report and concentrated on the areas that were below the 200 mark. I also looked at the general peds exam percentage list (given by the abp website) and noticed that growth and development, preventive peds and ID were given the highest percentage of questions in the exam! I always found myself saying I am weak in cardio, endo etc…and studied those areas like crazy to find out that they are given a lower percentage of questions. So, I focused on development, ID and prevention and studied those areas hard in the PBR, and worked my way down based on the subject percentage. Always review what you studied the night before first to solidify what you learned then do new material. Also, I really marked up the PBR hard copy and made notes, mnemonics in the margins. Visually, it made me feel like I studied a lot and accomplished something! I was thrilled that there was the iPad version of the PBR book. I was able to look at the images related to the topic I was studying at a glance. How simple was that?I studied on my way to work and any down time I had during the day. I disciplined myself in trying to put in at least 2-3 hours a night. Weekends were brutal because I studied most of the day and night. I did give myself deserved breaks, eat solid meals and taking Sunday off at times. Very difficult to do because of work, family, friends etc…but I did it. I had to! I know that it may seem hard to believe that I only studied PBR. I promise you, that was it. The PBR, I thought, was an easy read. I went though it many a times, highlighting areas with different colors. I felt like I actually memorized it! And the big one, I didn’t study PREP. I always felt those questions didnt reflect anything like the actual board questions. They were difficult and tedious to read. It is scary to think to not study PREP because everyone says we should. But I was convinced to do something different and PREP wasn’t part of the plan. I’m not saying that everyone shouldn’t study PREP. They are a good read and have a lot of info and have great merit in its own right, but it didn’t work for me. If you are able to get over mentally that you don’t have to study numerous resources and concentrate on PBR, like I did, it will be easier to focus. Sorry for the long post but I want to wish you and all those taking the boards this October good luck. It can be done and this will be your time to pass!

Blahblah -

If you go to the website, there is no pediatrician with the name M Vincenzo that has passed the pediatric boards in 2012. Since the people who have passed in 2012 have their names posted with the date, its hard to believe there is an error. Please post REAL stories!

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Dear Blahblah,

That’s an astute observation! It is NOT an error, but this person is very much a real person.

This doctor, and many others that have gone through similar difficulties, have asked to share their stories but not their real first name and/or last name. I respect their decisions and continue to be VERY appreciative of their willingness to interact with all of you via this website, and sometimes even directly via email.

Also, it would be illegal for me to post such an article based on FTC rules. Doing so could result in the shutting down of PBR, and that’s something I would never risk.

In a public venue such as this, it’s common to use an alias. I’m sure you can understand that given the name you submitted.

I hope that clarifies things and I wish you the best of luck on the boards.

– Ashish


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