Welcome to my blog, a place to explore and learn about the experience of running a psychiatric practice. I post about things that I find useful to know or think about. So, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Evil Emperor MOC-Or My Review of a Review Course

I seem to have strayed from my Lord of the Rings metaphor for my Board Recertification journey. But I signed up for the Beat the Boards online course, and I decided to do something I've never done before-use flashcards. I'm not sure why I made that decision, but maybe it was because I wanted to try out flashcard apps.

But before I move on, here's a picture of Charles Middleton as the Evil Emperor Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon (hence the "flash" cards) series of 1936.

I used to love that show, even though the special effects were laughable-you could see the strings holding up the spaceships.

And here's Max von Sydow as the Evil Emperor Ming in the 1980 Flash Gordon Movie:

And finally, here's the incomparable Ben Kingsley playing the evil Nizam in 2010's Prince of Persia movie, which, as far as I know, has nothing to do with Flash Gordon or MOC:

Turns out, there's a reason I've never used flashcards. I guess I've never understood why I should bother to write bits and pieces of information down on some index cards when someone else has gone to the trouble of writing down the same information in whatever text or source I'm trying to copy it from. Cut out the middleman, I say! I thought I might be inspired to try it this once using smartphone apps, just for the tech-y coolness appeal. But it's at least as much trouble to type things out on my phone as it is to write them on an index card. Well, so much for Flash Gordon.

However, I HAVE been attempting to study for boards. I have a three-pronged approach.

1. Meet every two weeks with the same friend who I studied for Step 3 and the first round of boards with, to go over questions.

2. Watch the Beat the Boards videos and follow along with the written materials on a regular basis. Once in a while when I feel like it seems pretty regular, right?

3. Review the Med-Quick guide from Beat the Boards.

Here's how Beat the Boards is measuring up.

1. The question bank is probably the best learning source, assuming, as they claim, that it accurately reflects the content of the boards. There are supposed to be "100's" of questions, but there have been some repeats, so far. There's a flashcard mode and a test mode. I've only done the flashcard mode, which tells you if you're correct, gives an explanation, and allows you to save the question for later review. I believe the test mode is supposed to simulate testing conditions, and is also the part that gives you CME credit.
    I find I don't agree with some of the answers, so again, I'm taking it on faith that these are the answers the ABPN wants. There are also some questions that don't seem to belong there, like the one about the most effective form of contraception. I would feel remiss if I didn't encourage my patient to have that discussion with her gynecologist.

2. The videos are of varying quality. The ones given by Jack Krasuski, who runs the company, are decent. He doesn't simply repeat what's in the written material, and he has a good way of organizing what he's trying to convey. He does have, well, it's not quite risus sardonicus, but an unnervingly permanent smile glued to his face, that's a little off-putting. Besides his videos, I've only watched those by one other guy, and he is soporific. It's that poor use of power point, where if you're just going to repeat the written material I have in my hand, why should I bother listening to you babble on.
   The presentations are done in such a way that they start off with a multiple choice question, and use that as a jumping off point for the discussion. There's nothing earth-shattering about this approach, but it isn't bad, either.

3. The Med-Quick guide is a pdf in 4 parts. Part 1 is a list of FDA-approved medications 2009-2013. Part 2 is a list of psychiatric disorders with their respective FDA-approved meds. Part 3 is a review of individual medications. And part 4 includes additional board-pertinent information, like drugs to use during pregnancy.
   I sort of remember the site offering the Med-Quick guide for free, when I was first checking it out , but when I tried to access it, the link didn't work. I can understand why. I think if I can memorize this guide, I'm pretty much set. the non-med questions in the question bank are easy and intuitive, except for the statistical ones (what percentage of pedophiles self-identify as heterosexual? 20-40%, 40-60%, 60-80%, 80-100%?) I tend to err on the side of moderation if I don't know the specific number, but that's clearly the wrong approach. But there aren't that many of those, so if I have the meds down, I think I'll pass.

(It just occurred to me that, having documented this process publicly, it'll be really embarrassing if I fail).

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give Beat the Boards an average thumbs up. Since it's effectively the only game in town, though, I can't complain.