Orange Julius

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I'm looking for any information about the oral and written boards. Specifically I'm looking to find out about resources, books, courses, etc. that people use and some short reviews of them.

I've already searched for threads with this info. I know there must be a ton of them. But I only found a few. If you know of good Boards related threads then please post me a link.

Otherwise if you know anything about the boards and what resources are useful for them, I would greatly appreciate anything you might have to share. Thanks.

BTW I noticed the typo in the tread title. It should read QE/CE. If a mod could change it, that would be great.
 

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There are not a ton of threads about the QE/CE for two reasons:

1) The ABS is very particular about protecting their product and will go to legal lengths to do so. Therefore, veteran SDN members are probably somewhat loathe to get into any discussion which may lead to charges of revealing information about the exams.

2) Almost everyone uses the same resources and courses:
a) SESAP
b) a textbook of your choice
c) Safe Answers for the Boards (beware that it has not been updated in years and some answers are no longer accurate)
d) Osler course
e) Odyssey course
f) ABSITE review books

The few threads that you have found will discuss the benefits of SESAP and Safe Answers as well as Osler. Best resources are your former Chiefs - ask them what your program was strong in and what you need to focus on.
 

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There are not a ton of threads about the QE/CE for two reasons:

1) The ABS is very particular about protecting their product and will go to legal lengths to do so. Therefore, veteran SDN members are probably somewhat loathe to get into any discussion which may lead to charges of revealing information about the exams.

2) Almost everyone uses the same resources and courses:
a) SESAP
b) a textbook of your choice
c) Safe Answers for the Boards (beware that it has not been updated in years and some answers are no longer accurate)
d) Osler course
e) Odyssey course
f) ABSITE review books

The few threads that you have found will discuss the benefits of SESAP and Safe Answers as well as Osler. Best resources are your former Chiefs - ask them what your program was strong in and what you need to focus on.
Very concise and accurate WS.

A couple extra points:
1. There are now several courses you can take both for the QE and the CE. Osler is the one with the best reputation (may vary by program/region in opinion). I don't know anyone who did Odyssey. There was a new review course sponsored by ACS (I believe) this year that is probably good in that it is sponsored by the same people responsible for SESAP, etc. but as it is new, may need some refining and tweaking. There are other review courses that you will get advertisements for; some seem VERY sketchy and others less so. Courses are pricy as well. Ask people you know what worked for them. People who trained at your program will know potential weaknesses in your training and the courses that are thus most helpful.

2. I also used the Passing the Oral Boards book by Neff. I liked it because it would list some critical points, possible 'curveballs' and things that are fail-worthy for each topic covered. It's much shorter and a quicker read than Safe Answers, and less outdated. However, it is better IMO to help you organize your thoughts and think about answers to curveballs; it's not a substitute for studying the material itself.

3. For the written exam, other question books can be helpful as well if you have time--both absite materials as well as self-assessment books that are supplements to main texts.

4. For the oral exam, have colleagues and attendings do practice scenarios for you. Have them give you complications and other weird 'twists' as well to prepare you for the real thing.
 

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There are not a ton of threads about the QE/CE for two reasons:

1) The ABS is very particular about protecting their product and will go to legal lengths to do so. Therefore, veteran SDN members are probably somewhat loathe to get into any discussion which may lead to charges of revealing information about the exams.
We've also been given the riot act here about not disseminating review materials. Seems like there might have been past graduates who recalled large portions of the written/oral exams and then passed them on to the next year's chiefs. I know other programs have done this in the past as well (having seen some of these "cheat sheets" myself).
 

orthohand

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Just learned today that, i cleared my orals boards.
i wanted to share my experience .

Started preparation 2 months before exam . Initially was difficult to get to read with new practice and procrastination.

started with collecting all the books and material .
started reviewing SAFE answers . 4 weeks before took the odyssey course .
got a better understanding of the exam and also found a partner for practicing scenarios .

went to exam city 4 days before the exam with a friend and reviewed everything again and took the exam and passed .

Start with collecting material .

REVIEW MATERIAL- SAFE ANSWERS, PASSING ORAL BOARDS-NEFF
BOOKS- CAMEROON, any of the standard text book like SCHARTWZ
ATLAS- ZOLLINGER/CHASSIN



1. SAFE answers- i got conflicting advice about this book . Bought it 5 weeks before exam. I think , u should buy this book immediately after u get your results from written exam .This book has most of the clinical case scenarios , commonly tested in the exam .Start flipping SAFE answers in the evenings .
read the related topic discussion from CAMEROON.You should at least try to read SAFE ANSWERS THREE TIMES BEFORE EXAM .This book should be the center of your preparation . it is easy to read . analyze every scenarios according to your residency training protocol .

2. NEFF- PASSING ORAL BOARDS- This book has all the questions which can be raised and all the changing scenarios you may have to confront . it complements safe answers .

3. CAMEROON- I READ CAMEROON IN residency as case based reading to manage my patients . I wanted to read the whole book for the oral exam. never got there . Try to do selected case scenarios based chapter reading.
do not waste and frustrate yourself with plans to read the whole book and you will never get to do it with fellowship or new practice and family .

4. ATLAS- Zollinger or Chassins is a very good way to visualize the steps and review surgical procedure. Every scenarios you will end up in the OR and the examiner will ask you to give a brief important steps of each procedure .it is very easy to flip through a atlas - we all have done most of the procedures in residency .

5. PRACTICE- practicing scenarios with a partner is the most important part of preparation for this exam . if you are isolated in a practice or busy in fellowship . try to another surgeon who is taking the exam and wants to practice.
3-4 times week 1-2 hrs by phone or skype .

6. REVIEW COURSE- there two review courses . Odyssey - given four weeks before exam ( gets u started and u have enough time to study also ). Osler is given just before the exam in the same city - not much to time to change any thing . my thoughts after the exam - didnt gain any thing .
these courses pry on our anxiety and insecurity . if you have money go for it, there is no harm done . isnt it ironic that after 5 yrs and 20000 hrs of residency training , we think a 2-4 day prep course will help us. i can understand why the surgery board members and chairman's despise these review courses.

7. "respect the exam "- prepare for the exam . we all are busy and it is difficult to take time out to prepare.

8. "passing Exam "- the exam is there to pass us . it is a very fair exam. very well standardized . examiners were friendly , no tricks or curve balls .

9. be confident and speak out loud and clear . think like an independent practitioner making SAFE DECISIONS and be a SAFE SURGEON .

10. CONTENT issue VERSUS PRESENTATION issue - there is this whole discussion that the the oral board preparation is all about presentation.
I feel it is also about content especially all the residents in vascular cardiac, plastic , hand ,breast fellowship .
try to start your preparation by brush up on the content .

11. every case scenario has 4 parts- H&P, workup and diagnosis , Management and complications , changing scenarios with management plan .Examiners do not want you to spend too much time in the H&P. The initial presentation is actually every long and examiner will give you most of the relevant history and information to start the case . They want you to spend your time in diagnosing and managing the pt .
once you have completed the management , examiners like to test your knowledge by changing scenarios .

12. "you are your worst enemy "- don't let stress get you and spoil a fair exam .

i hope this helps

GOODLUCK :thumbup:
 

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I took my boards while in the first year of a busy fellowship so I did not have as much time as I would have liked to prepare for the exam. However I passed the QE and CE without much difficulty.

Just so you know that it can be done with minimal time investment:

For the QE I spent the week before the exam doing every question in the osler multiple choice review thing. These questions are in a pdf format and are part of the megabytes of files that are always getting e-mailed around the intarwebz between exam hopefuls (alternately you can buy it from the osler web site).

For the CS, I studied another intarwebz production called "91 questions" for a few days before the exam. And I took the osler course which I thought was worth the money. You get to watch other people stumble through exam questions and that oddly builds your confidence as you realize that you know a lot more than you think you do.

I do not think that you need a laundry list of books and an elaborate study schedule like some of the above posters suggest. It was very helpful to me that I worked very hard during my general surgery residency to learn as much as possible. As well, we had mock orals for the last two years of my residency on a fairly regular basis and that was very helpful as well.

If you had good prep during your gs residency, you should be fine with a more minimal review strategy. Both exams are fair. Good luck.
 
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Very good post!! I'm plan to take my CE exam soon, looking for partners to prepare this together. any idea for this? thanks.
 

surg

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Couple of thoughts on oral exams:

1) There is no substitute for practicing OUT LOUD. Even if you are by yourself. Run scenarios verbally so you get in the habit of answering without stumbling too much. Nothing ruins your confidence faster than realizing you can't get the name of the anatomic structure or the drug you need out even though you know it. Have a partner, run them with you. Over the phone if need be. If there is a local residency (even if it isn't the one you graduated from) consider asking their program coordinator to let you sit for mock orals with them if they do them. If there is space, most programs would let you do that.

2) Rehearse by scenario. Knowing all sorts of trivia is fun and ok for written exams, but for oral exams, it is how you hang the information together into a cohesive workup and management. Having a structure will keep you from forgetting key steps.

3) Wipe the last question from your mind as soon as the examiners move to a new scenario. Countless people have failed a room because they missed the 2nd scenario after blowing the first one. This is hard to do, but forget it. You don't have to pass every scenario to pass the room. Do better on the next one. You can't go back and fix the last one. Also, in some scenarios patients do poorly no matter what. You may have passed the last scenario even though the patient just about died (or did die).

4) Remember that they don't know who you are or what your practice is. Don't worry about not answering the way your attendings would have answered, get the right book answer, even if maybe you wouldn't have done it that way in residency.

5) Don't open yourself up to extraneous questions if you don't need to. If you bring up that something is very obscure, be prepared to answer questions about it. (Obviously don't skip over major differential diagnoses that must be included or treatment options that are needed, but do you seriously want to talk about the pros and cons of a laparoscopic robotic Whipple?)

Good luck!
 
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Hello everyone, Im taking the gen surg oral board exam in October 2011. Anyone interested in a study partner for the course preparation?
 

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I took my boards while in the first year of a busy fellowship so I did not have as much time as I would have liked to prepare for the exam. However I passed the QE and CE without much difficulty.

Just so you know that it can be done with minimal time investment:

For the QE I spent the week before the exam doing every question in the osler multiple choice review thing. These questions are in a pdf format and are part of the megabytes of files that are always getting e-mailed around the intarwebz between exam hopefuls (alternately you can buy it from the osler web site).

For the CS, I studied another intarwebz production called "91 questions" for a few days before the exam. And I took the osler course which I thought was worth the money. You get to watch other people stumble through exam questions and that oddly builds your confidence as you realize that you know a lot more than you think you do.

I do not think that you need a laundry list of books and an elaborate study schedule like some of the above posters suggest. It was very helpful to me that I worked very hard during my general surgery residency to learn as much as possible. As well, we had mock orals for the last two years of my residency on a fairly regular basis and that was very helpful as well.

If you had good prep during your gs residency, you should be fine with a more minimal review strategy. Both exams are fair. Good luck.
You quoted a resource "91 questions", any links to that. I can't seem to find via google. Thnx
 

Darksmurf

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Newest pass rates came out in September. Wondering what to make of these. The conventional wisdom is that in community programs you operate so much that you can't study and that in academic programs the applicants were probably better at test taking in the first place. But when a program like Columbia has a surprising poor pass rate for reputation, what does that mean? What are they not doing right?
 

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Newest pass rates came out in September. Wondering what to make of these. The conventional wisdom is that in community programs you operate so much that you can't study and that in academic programs the applicants were probably better at test taking in the first place. But when a program like Columbia has a surprising poor pass rate for reputation, what does that mean? What are they not doing right?
Come on, Darksmurf. Don't drink the kool aid.

You can draw your own conclusions from the stats, but please don't let yourself fall victim to the classic compensation story: People who do fellowship but don't sit for the boards count as fails, and this is why your beloved program has a low pass rate.

I would love to hear some SDNers come in with some creative math and defend their program's pass rate with more of that nonsense....
 
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How to find this intarwebz production called "91 questions"? more detailed instruction would really appreciated.



I took my boards while in the first year of a busy fellowship so I did not have as much time as I would have liked to prepare for the exam. However I passed the QE and CE without much difficulty.

Just so you know that it can be done with minimal time investment:

For the QE I spent the week before the exam doing every question in the osler multiple choice review thing. These questions are in a pdf format and are part of the megabytes of files that are always getting e-mailed around the intarwebz between exam hopefuls (alternately you can buy it from the osler web site).

For the CS, I studied another intarwebz production called "91 questions" for a few days before the exam. And I took the osler course which I thought was worth the money. You get to watch other people stumble through exam questions and that oddly builds your confidence as you realize that you know a lot more than you think you do.

I do not think that you need a laundry list of books and an elaborate study schedule like some of the above posters suggest. It was very helpful to me that I worked very hard during my general surgery residency to learn as much as possible. As well, we had mock orals for the last two years of my residency on a fairly regular basis and that was very helpful as well.

If you had good prep during your gs residency, you should be fine with a more minimal review strategy. Both exams are fair. Good luck.
 

Darksmurf

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Come on, Darksmurf. Don't drink the kool aid.

You can draw your own conclusions from the stats, but please don't let yourself fall victim to the classic compensation story: People who do fellowship but don't sit for the boards count as fails, and this is why your beloved program has a low pass rate.

I would love to hear some SDNers come in with some creative math and defend their program's pass rate with more of that nonsense....
The thing is, SL'Utilisateur11 (if that is your real name), I don't buy the "fellowship fails" argument--though you do make a convincing case, I must say--because other ivory tower programs that send all their grads into fellowships have good pass rates.

So, again, to the substance of my sérieuse question. Besides the initial test-taking ability of a program's residents, what separates a program with a high versus low pass rate.

Take two random programs picked off the top of my head: UKansas (60% combined first-time pass rate) and UKansas-Wichita (90% combined first-time pass rate). What are those two programs doing differently that can account for the discrepancy of scores? Is it curriculum? Is it time at home to read? Is it work hours violations? Is it a teaching-oriented faculty? Is it the SCORE curriculum? Is it mock boards in 3rd, 4th, and 5th year (versus none)? Is it paying for all the residents to take a prep course? Is it in the drinking water?
 

SLUser11

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Take two random programs picked off the top of my head: UKansas (60% combined first-time pass rate) and UKansas-Wichita (90% combined first-time pass rate). What are those two programs doing differently that can account for the discrepancy of scores? Is it curriculum? Is it time at home to read? Is it work hours violations? Is it a teaching-oriented faculty? Is it the SCORE curriculum? Is it mock boards in 3rd, 4th, and 5th year (versus none)? Is it paying for all the residents to take a prep course? Is it in the drinking water?
Well, I can tell you it's not SCORE, since that's pretty new, and seems to me to be an expensive, glorified online version of Greenfield's and ACS Surgery.

I think that the real take home message is that programs can't be lumped into black and white categories like "academic" and "community." You also can't make assumptions about curriculum, work hours, teaching skills, etc based on those broad categories.

Just like anything in life, I believe the best programs are ones that offer a balance of experience. You can't be overworked or you won't have time/energy to learn, but if you don't work hard, you won't become a solid clinician. You need to have plenty of OR experience, but if you do nothing but operate, you will miss out on other aspects of training....etc etc.

Every residency is balanced differently, and the questions you asked (SCORE, Mock Orals, faculty attitude, prep courses) are very important to ask during your interview. What you'll find is programs that don't have good balance will either dance around the question, or bring up the classic kool-aid scenario I mentioned. Programs with good balance should be able to answer without hesitation, as they have nothing to hide.

At the end of the day, your residency has to prepare you to be a board-certified general surgeon. If you go somewhere with crappy pass rates, regardless of it's classification or pedigree, you're doing yourself a disservice.



I'm sorry I had to go all soapbox on the topic.
 

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Our program has always had a high pass rate (for both the writtens and orals) - 80-90%. Historically we don't have a strong ABSITE curriculum here, but we did implement SCORE about two years ago. And chiefs have the option of either attending a conference or a boards review course during their final year. We also do mock orals, twice a year, starting from your PGY-4 year. And the senior residents are constantly asked "oral boards style" questions during conferences (especially M&M), which I have to think helps.
 
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Orange Julius

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The SESAP products are very expensive. Are they worth it?
 

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The SESAP products are very expensive. Are they worth it?
The same people who write the boards write SESAP. It is definitely worth getting a sense of the type of questions (and answers) that you will get. Highly worth it.
 

Smurfette

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The same people who write the boards write SESAP. It is definitely worth getting a sense of the type of questions (and answers) that you will get. Highly worth it.
I agree. They are expensive but seeing and reading through the questions/answers is helpful. Very much worth the time spent to go through ALL of SESAP before taking the written.