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Preparing for the boards

<p>A summary of board preparation.</p>

A summary of board preparation.

Derm Board preparation can be intense, as the amount of material is staggering.  By now a dermatology resident is fantastic at studying and taking tests. But this one is the big kahuna, so its really time to roll up the shirtsleeves. 

Here's what worked for me:

Studying

  1. Find a quiet, convenient, undisturbed place to study.  Sometimes, during hectic family time and residency, we forget this.  After all, its been awhile since medical school.
  2. Get a comfortable chair and good lighting.  (I wore out a wicker chair seat, but it was comfortable as it literally broke in).
  3. Put a text or prepared notes directly in front of you.  It is best placed on an angled book holder.
  4. Keep a quick reference to your left (I used Derm Facts). 
  5. Make notes on a paper to your right; key info you can later review--perhaps several times--prior to the boards.  This should be anything that strikes you as 'board fodder.'  You know, just obscure enough, but information you really should know.
  6. Do not skip a chance to look something up.  Keep additional references handy.  It is the unknown answer (that you didn't look up) that you'll be tested on.
  7. Use of 'airplane notes' is not allowed by the ABD, and should be avoided.
  8. Study enough and get started early enough not to cause undue stress.  Pace yourself; avoid burnout by doing things you enjoy.  The amount of time is different for everyone.  Remember, plenty of people will take off several months to study for the boards.  This is not necessary (there are many others in hectic fellowships or jobs), but plan accordingly.
  9. Take several of the prep courses.  Especially helpful is the Chicago course that takes place at the Holiday Inn.  It gives you a chance to get used to traveling there and to the surroundings.  The less new things you encounter that weekend, the better.

The boards
  1. To reduce stress, arrange everything for the trip well in advance.  Book a flight that is at a reasonable hour and leave plenty of time for travel.  Avoid the possibilty of mechanical mishap as much as possible.  Don't stay at the Holiday Inn; it can be noisy and hectic.  Do stay close by...a short walk will clear the head in the morning.
  2. Bring what you need to be comfortable; earplugs, drink, food, comfortable clothes (bring layers in case the A/C is cold), your blankie, whatever.
  3. Unless you like to interact with basket cases, avoid most other exam-takers.
  4. Don't worry...the exam covers important material.   Its not meant to test pithy minutiae (unlike the mock boards), but rather stuff you've studied for years during residency.
  5. Reward yourself post-exam with a vacation.

 


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