How long to prepare for the orals?

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TheLoneWolf

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Was wondering what others thoughts are on the time necessary prepping for the oral boards, especially those who went into out of OR fellowships like ICU and pain. Any materials recommended? Any experiences appreciated.

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Read Yao. Do some practice exams with faculty. Crush it.
 
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Was wondering what others thoughts are on the time necessary prepping for the oral boards, especially those who went into out of OR fellowships like ICU and pain. Any materials recommended? Any experiences appreciated.

2-3 weeks.

Did pain.

Most helpful thing was the available sample exams, doing those with faculty at our program. Do 10-20 practice sessions.

Every scenario/question you get on the practice examples, read about in detail.

The real exam, in my experience, followed the available practice examples closely.

I wouldnt waste time with a big textbook. Read up on the questions/subjects you didnt do well on, maybe read one of those quickie review books. Thats it.
 
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If you’re in pain (or honestly anything), I’d advice spending more than just 2-3 weeks preparing. In pain fellowship you are probably doing zilch general anesthesia, you’d be surprised how quickly that knowledge erodes. Stay on top of it for a couple months.

CCM may be the best setup as many struggle with (intensive) postoperative management. But I still wouldn’t be too cocky and make sure you drill traditionally weaker areas (pediatrics, for example, for many).

Do many practice tests with co-workers, your significant other, co-fellows, etc... If you have access to any current or former examiners utilize them and tell them don’t hold back! UPB is a good start for prep but know you won’t be given enough time for a 3-4 paragraph diatribe on preop optimization on a cardiac patient.
 
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How long depends on your schedule. I was in a busy fellowship, so I started 6 months ahead. I was able to spread things out, and didn’t have to cram leading up to the exam. But I know plenty of people that started much later, and did fine as well...depends on your study style.

To me, the most important thing is to practice putting your thoughts out loud. The exam moves fast, and it’s not enough to just know the answer, you need to be succinct and present yourself clearly. Practice tests are key - UBP and stems from ABA. I went through these mostly by myself - talking out loud (my neighbors probably thought I was a crazy person talking to myself). Some people preferred study partners to do this - I found this distracting and slowed me down. We usually ended up talking about other things half the time. There’s also a rapid review book (I think author is Gupta), that was pretty basic but a quick read of most common topics. I also tried using Yao and Artusio - it was great as a reference for specific topics, but leading up to the test you are better off practicing stems rather than reading a textbook cover to cover.

I only did one formal practice with senior faculty. It was helpful to simulate the exam - and give you some idea of pacing and how you perform under pressure. I would advise doing this early — you’ll likely feel like an idiot, but it will motivate you to review and familiarize you with the exam structure.
 
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Start at the beginning of residency and stop when you log on to the website and it says you are a Diplomate if the ABA.
 
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Read Yao. Do some practice exams with faculty. Crush it.

Did you actually read Yao? I bought it, but just couldn’t do it, mainly because it’s just so dry and also because it’s massive.

I’d say 5ish practice exams with mentors that you respect maybe even fear a bit on top of whatever book/bank you like to brush up on knowledge gaps. The practice of oddly constructed one sided verbal communication is paramount.
 
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Did you actually read Yao? I bought it, but just couldn’t do it, mainly because it’s just so dry and also because it’s massive.

I’d say 5ish practice exams with mentors that you respect maybe even fear a bit on top of whatever book/bank you like to brush up on knowledge gaps. The practice of oddly constructed one sided verbal communication is paramount.
Prob 75% of it
 
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Funny as it may sound, but I took it recently and found UpToDate really helpful. There are articles specifically written by and for anesthesiologists now. UpToDate. Going through the neuro, OB, cardiac, thoracic sections helped me build knowledge well, I thought clearer than UBP. But I still don't even know if it was enough :( hopefully I passed.
 
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As @AdmiralChz mentioned, having been out of the OR for a period of time for fellowship and the anesthesia stuff doesn't stay as good as it was. Got to catch up. Real surprised everyone is for UBP. I doubt they will let you talk for 10 minutes on one thing.
 
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As @AdmiralChz mentioned, having been out of the OR for a period of time for fellowship and the anesthesia stuff doesn't stay as good as it was. Got to catch up. Real surprised everyone is for UBP. I doubt they will let you talk for 10 minutes on one thing.

Just gives you a framework to think through and approach an answer to the question in terms of language. I found it helpful, personally. Like anything it isn’t for everyone but nearly all of my 9 co-fellows used it as well.
 
How long to prepare...till you just can’t stand to do it anymore
 
Spent about 2-3 months, I'll let you know how if that was good enough in a couple of weeks... My mental capacity was decreasing toward the latter half of studying so that made it more challenging to keep hammering away
 
about 2 weeks of solid practice and studying
i took 1 week off work for it
used UBP almost exclusively
did 3-4 mock orals with colleague who was also studying for exam
as long as you work hard as resident and attending, and have a reason for your actions, you will do fine

I also took my oral boards after
- my flight was cancelled
- miraculously an examinee cancelled for the next day so i was able to get that spot
- my flight was cancelled again
- drove 14 hours from Chicago to North Carolina in the middle of the night (started at 10:30 pm)
- made it to the test center 1.5 hours before the exam
 
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about 2 weeks of solid practice and studying
i took 1 week off work for it
used UBP almost exclusively
did 3-4 mock orals with colleague who was also studying for exam
as long as you work hard as resident and attending, and have a reason for your actions, you will do fine

I also took my oral boards after
- my flight was cancelled
- miraculously an examinee cancelled for the next day so i was able to get that spot
- my flight was cancelled again
- drove 14 hours from Chicago to North Carolina in the middle of the night (started at 10:30 pm)
- made it to the test center 1.5 hours before the exam

I remember your story and I'm still amazed/impressed how you managed.
 
2 weeks is not enough IMO for a pain or ccm fellow. During ccm fellowship I gave myself about 6 weeks of solid prep time. Mostly used UBP, old aba stems, and did 5-6 mocks with staff. There is just so much general, peds, ob, pain stuff that you've forgotten about after 8 months of doing something else....unless you're a savant you need to refresh yourself a bit on the basics before diving into earnest practice.
 
I studied for 6 weeks at the beginning of my CCM fellowship. Used UBP, ranger red audio in the car and most importantly did about 8 mock exams with faculty that are or have been board examiners. In the last two weeks I also skyped with a buddy from residency doing mock UBP cases. UBP is long winded and not the answer you would give but it gives you an nice review of the material and a format to follow.
 
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If anyone bought the latest 6 UBP manuals and wants to sell them, let me know. I wasn't sure where else to reach out regarding this. Best of luck on orals!
 
If anyone bought the latest 6 UBP manuals and wants to sell them, let me know. I wasn't sure where else to reach out regarding this. Best of luck on orals!

I have a PDF with them all, you can PM me
 
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If you’re in pain (or honestly anything), I’d advice spending more than just 2-3 weeks preparing. In pain fellowship you are probably doing zilch general anesthesia, you’d be surprised how quickly that knowledge erodes. Stay on top of it for a couple months.

CCM may be the best setup as many struggle with (intensive) postoperative management. But I still wouldn’t be too cocky and make sure you drill traditionally weaker areas (pediatrics, for example, for many).

Do many practice tests with co-workers, your significant other, co-fellows, etc... If you have access to any current or former examiners utilize them and tell them don’t hold back! UPB is a good start for prep but know you won’t be given enough time for a 3-4 paragraph diatribe on preop optimization on a cardiac patient.
Is UBP basically another version of The Ho course? Does the Ho course exist anymore?

Basically I agree that SOME version of a course is helpful. They help you answer the questions but not necessarily give you the answers. I remember preparing thinking that an answer like, "If the blood pressure were to drop I'd give phenylepherine to bring it back up".....while that may be the correct "answer' that's not how to board want you to answer to question so that's where Ho, and I'm sure UBP, is very helpful.
 
Also if you're a pain fellow, don't study pain. Study cardiac, peds, neuro, and all the other stuff you haven't been doing for a year. Same holds true if you're involved in any other fellowship. During my fellowship one of my stems was an AVR patient. This is basically where the prep courses are helpful because I could answer whatever they wanted about an AVR but you just need to know how to properly answer to question. They basically cut the stem short and went to grab bag question (much scarier IMO) because they knew I nailed the AVR stem.

I honestly think the Pre-Op portion is the hardest part of the exam, again, that and the Grab Bag.
 
As @AdmiralChz mentioned, having been out of the OR for a period of time for fellowship and the anesthesia stuff doesn't stay as good as it was. Got to catch up. Real surprised everyone is for UBP. I doubt they will let you talk for 10 minutes on one thing.

Yeah UBP was great but I got cut off every time I tried to launch into a UBP-Esque answer
 
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Yeah UBP was great but I got cut off every time I tried to launch into a UBP-Esque answer
Same, but I consider that to be a good thing. Moved the conversation right along.
 
Did you actually read Yao? I bought it, but just couldn’t do it, mainly because it’s just so dry and also because it’s massive.

I’d say 5ish practice exams with mentors that you respect maybe even fear a bit on top of whatever book/bank you like to brush up on knowledge gaps. The practice of oddly constructed one sided verbal communication is paramount.

Having just taken it last week, I can't emphasize this point enough. I spent 3+ months studying, reviewed UBP books 2X+ each, did at least 40 mocks with friends from the UBP books, even made notecards (400 or so) and reviewed them several times. In the end, I got thrown off track by extremely aggressive examiners in my second stem and their odd suggestions/accusatory nature/second guessing and would be shocked to pass at this point. It doesn't matter how much you know if you don't get a chance to communicate it effectively and prove it.
 
Having just taken it last week, I can't emphasize this point enough. I spent 3+ months studying, reviewed UBP books 2X+ each, did at least 40 mocks with friends from the UBP books, even made notecards (400 or so) and reviewed them several times. In the end, I got thrown off track by extremely aggressive examiners in my second stem and their odd suggestions/accusatory nature/second guessing and would be shocked to pass at this point. It doesn't matter how much you know if you don't get a chance to communicate it effectively and prove it.

the aggressive questioning and other distractions are meant to throw you off your feet a little. see how you respond.
as long as you don't respond in kind and explain your answers reasonably well, you're fine!!
 
I felt the same way and ended up passing

I thought the exam was fair. There were absolutely no surprises as far as content
UBP 2.5X and read through ABA samples once. And had a study partner for 2 exams per week for 3 months.
This was honestly overkill and I got burnt in the end but I could essentially take the exam in my sleep.

For the OSCE I just followed the ABA outline and remembered the bulleted points.
I was overly concerned on getting very specific questions or a weird disease process that I had never heard of and none of that came up.
My questions were straight from these sources.

However I have to say , I was grilled hard . Especially in my second room I couldn't get through anything without being questioned . So aggressively that I felt I wasn't able to showcase any of my knowledge, I am not sure if I was speaking in proper english at one point because they throw you off that much. So I guess this is a normal feeling.
No you won't be able to give the UBP answer on the exam , you will likely give a short abbreviated version. And I think when they start cutting you off and pushing you it likely means your are doing fine.
 
I wanted to share my experience with the SOE/OSCE in May. Started skimming UBP late February but serious studying began in March after I did a practice oral exam with an oral examiner and realized I needed a lot of improvement. UBP provides a lot of good info and should be the main source of reading material but answers are too long, overly conservative, and not definitive enough ("I would consider" is not a favorable statement to examiners). Answering the UBP way would be detrimental on the real exam.

I finished UBP. I also read through much of Yao and Artusio to help further my knowledge. This was very time consuming and in retrospect, the least helpful part of my exam prep. With less than 2 weeks to exam time, I started skimming Anesthesia Oral Board Review. I highly recommend reading through a review book of some sort. There are many rapid review books out there so just pick one. They're good for highlighting key points of high yield topics and also include lists of differentials to help you formulate blurbs when asked for Ddx. It's an easy read and chapters are short.

Also did so so many mock oral exams with examiners at my institution and with other people studying for the exam. I looked up answers to all the questions I didn't know (which was a lot). The old ABA exams are key. You'll find certain topics are very common on the exams and it's important to have a good spiel for those questions down pat. I was lucky because a topic I didn't know well during one practice exam actually got asked word for word on my real oral exam and I was able to answer all of them this time.

On the exam, even if you're doing well on a topic, the examiners will push you until you have to say "I don't know." That is ok. Just move on. If you've been able to answer basic questions leading up to it, they know you know your stuff. I had to say "I don't know" several times during both my stems. I also blurted out answers that I wasn't 100% sure on. One time I just said "bronchospasm" and went down that route without mentioning other possibilities. I'm sure this happens to everyone.

I was very fortunate to have reasonably straight forward stems and nice examiners. I never got cut off. They didn't really question my choices, though I did have to back them up a few times, but they didn't give "hints" either during the main stem. In both rooms, the senior examiner prodded me a little bit during the grab bags. I think they do that because during those cases it's harder to get your thoughts together so they try to help you out by saying "would x be useful?".

I walked out of both stems feeling like I did pretty well. This made me more nervous because I was told you're supposed to feel terrible. Then on the flight home I started second guessing some of my choices and remembering all the things I didn't know and times I might have made the wrong decision. I worried that I made a critical error somewhere that I didn't realize. I made it through three grab bags in each scenario so I felt good about that at least. Luckily because I felt fairly certain I passed, the wait wasn't as excruciating, but logging into the portal and seeing PASSED is a great feeling.

Quick thoughts on OSCE for those who are interested: I hate talking to standardized patients, it's very artificial. I also expected them to be more helpful, like steer me in a certain direction and ask questions if I missed something. They were not helpful at all. I felt like I was talking in circles in some of the rooms. One station was discussing options for something I haven't done in years so I totally winged that one. I haven't heard of anyone failing the OSCE yet though...
 
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Also what is this UBP that everyone keeps mentioning? Where do you get? Are you referring to the online course for 4000$ when people are saying they are using UBP/read UBP 3x?????
 
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Verbal rehearsal of standard phrases is essential to appearing confident and feeling confident.
 
Also what is this UBP that everyone keeps mentioning? Where do you get? Are you referring to the online course for 4000$ when people are saying they are using UBP/read UBP 3x?????

It’s a set of 6 books. I think costs like ~$600. Each books has like 10 cases. I started studying for orals 4 months before. Read UBP books twice and practice sample oral with friends. Most important is practicing verbalizing your answer. You might have good understanding of everything but you need to be able to verbalize it in a concise manner
 
I wanted to share my experience with the SOE/OSCE in May. Started skimming UBP late February but serious studying began in March after I did a practice oral exam with an oral examiner and realized I needed a lot of improvement. UBP provides a lot of good info and should be the main source of reading material but answers are too long, overly conservative, and not definitive enough ("I would consider" is not a favorable statement to examiners). Answering the UBP way would be detrimental on the real exam.

I finished UBP. I also read through much of Yao and Artusio to help further my knowledge. This was very time consuming and in retrospect, the least helpful part of my exam prep. With less than 2 weeks to exam time, I started skimming Anesthesia Oral Board Review. I highly recommend reading through a review book of some sort. There are many rapid review books out there so just pick one. They're good for highlighting key points of high yield topics and also include lists of differentials to help you formulate blurbs when asked for Ddx. It's an easy read and chapters are short.

Also did so so many mock oral exams with examiners at my institution and with other people studying for the exam. I looked up answers to all the questions I didn't know (which was a lot). The old ABA exams are key. You'll find certain topics are very common on the exams and it's important to have a good spiel for those questions down pat. I was lucky because a topic I didn't know well during one practice exam actually got asked word for word on my real oral exam and I was able to answer all of them this time.

On the exam, even if you're doing well on a topic, the examiners will push you until you have to say "I don't know." That is ok. Just move on. If you've been able to answer basic questions leading up to it, they know you know your stuff. I had to say "I don't know" several times during both my stems. I also blurted out answers that I wasn't 100% sure on. One time I just said "bronchospasm" and went down that route without mentioning other possibilities. I'm sure this happens to everyone.

I was very fortunate to have reasonably straight forward stems and nice examiners. I never got cut off. They didn't really question my choices, though I did have to back them up a few times, but they didn't give "hints" either during the main stem. In both rooms, the senior examiner prodded me a little bit during the grab bags. I think they do that because during those cases it's harder to get your thoughts together so they try to help you out by saying "would x be useful?".

I walked out of both stems feeling like I did pretty well. This made me more nervous because I was told you're supposed to feel terrible. Then on the flight home I started second guessing some of my choices and remembering all the things I didn't know and times I might have made the wrong decision. I worried that I made a critical error somewhere that I didn't realize. I made it through three grab bags in each scenario so I felt good about that at least. Luckily because I felt fairly certain I passed, the wait wasn't as excruciating, but logging into the portal and seeing PASSED is a great feeling.

Quick thoughts on OSCE for those who are interested: I hate talking to standardized patients, it's very artificial. I also expected them to be more helpful, like steer me in a certain direction and ask questions if I missed something. They were not helpful at all. I felt like I was talking in circles in some of the rooms. One station was discussing options for something I haven't done in years so I totally winged that one. I haven't heard of anyone failing the OSCE yet though...
Where do you get Old ABA Exams?
 
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UBP and about 3 months of practice and verbalizing with their stems and floating old oral board exams. Don’t forget the OSCE
Thanks for the information, it is very helpful, any idea Where I should get old oral board exams?
 
I recommend the ubp practice exams and the ho practice exams that someone transcribed from the course... As to how much and how long to study there is no one size fits all. Around 3 months seems to be common.
 
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I recommend reading UpToDate anesthesia sections on topics like Neuro, Thoracic, OB etc. If you quote Uptodate ideas, you know no one's gonna say that's wrong.
 
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