1st year path resident needs advice and board prep recommendations

Jul 9, 2009
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As a first year path resident, while I am working diligently and do everything asked of me and then some, I am totally without confidence, fearful, and floundering in of my lack of knowledge on a daily basis and concern about the board exam next year. I am told "don't worry about it, you're doing great", that I should just be reading every day, and though I do, I am often too ignorant in point of comparison or background to be able to well internalize the material, further antagonizing my problem.
My questions are: (1.) are there prep materials available for purchase which prepare and are representative of the test format, and if so, what are they, and (2.) for a resident willing to forgo all social life to get the job done, what is a prescribed, practical approach to a productive routine leading to solid board scores, (yes, literally...a "do this, this, this, and this" approach)and (3.) does anyone besides me feel that everything they learn is totally new and nothing read so far is anywhere near lucid or remotely familiar, much less understandable? IE, how much of what I am reading that is new learning crystalizes only under the influence of hands-on experience? Is this possible?
Sorry so long, but thanks for ANY help anyone can give me. The only thing I appreciate more than the anonymity of this site is the inordinate generosity of those of you who respond to queries such as mine. C
 

KluverB

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10+ Year Member
Jun 17, 2004
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Sitting down and facing front. Why would you want
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Attending Physician
As a first year path resident... lack of knowledge on a daily basis and concern about the board exam next year.
What kind of fast-track program are you in? Are you talking about your path boards? If so, you have to be in your final year of residency to take them. So, I think you still have some time.

But as an aside, depending on how your rotations are set up, and what's your background (straight out of med school vs. in a research lab for years, theory-heavy a la European system vs. PBL a la N.American), generally there is a lot of material to absorb. Just have to do your best. Concentrate on the big picture things, ie. normal vs. abnormal, benign vs. malignant, chronic vs. acute, etc. You don't necessarily need to pin down the exact diagnosis. Instead, work on being able to describe what you see. This in itself requires you to build up a basic vocabulary. That too comes with practice. If you're unsure of anything, especially while grossing, ask ask ask.
 

Parts Unknown

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Jun 26, 2009
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Attending Physician
Sorry so long, but thanks for ANY help anyone can give me. The only thing I appreciate more than the anonymity of this site is the inordinate generosity of those of you who respond to queries such as mine. C
I think it's not uncommon to freak out about learning this totally new skill, but take a deep breath. There are over 1,400 days between you and the boards. You will have plenty of time to build your knowledge base. You won't feel smarter day to day, but you will be amazed at how much you can sock away over four years.

When you are on busy rotations (like surgical pathology) just do your best to keep up with your cases and read about them. That hands on experience will stick with you.

When you are on slack rotations read the Compendium and listen to Osler lectures. Those are two activities you will definitely be engaged in when you're on the final stretch of your residency, might as well get a jump on them. Don't bother with hardcore memorization. You won't remember trivia, so leave it for later.

It's a bit like a marathon. Run too slow and you'll never finish, but run to fast and you'll die of heat stroke next to a table of GU energy gel. Pace yourself. Before I started a senior resident described the typical goings on at unknown conference. He said the 4th years can wax on about the minutia, the 3rd years can nail the diagnosis, the 2nd years can give a differential, and the 1st years can distinguish pink from blue. For now just work on the pink vs. blue.