jordan222

2+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2015
142
138
Status
Medical Student
Hi all,

Both as part of a research project I'm part of as well as for my own learning, I have spent a huge amount of time surveying and reviewing medical school resources over the past year. I wrote up a resource recommendation guide for my medical school and edited it for the broader SDN audience below. Enjoy!

Jordan222’s Medical School Resource Recommendation Guide

Preface

In 2016-2017, I spent a substantial amount of time testing out the wide variety of third-party medical student resources available for learning, review, assessment, and scheduling. The following document is written by me with considerable input from fellow medical students, online forums, and informally surveying students at other medical schools. The world of medical student resources is quickly evolving, and this document is up to date as of July 2017.

For each resources discussed below, I will include:

· The name, website, and cost of the resource

· My main sources of exposure to the tool

· A brief description of the resource and its features, including my thoughts on the its value in general for a medical student.

· A categorization of the tool’s function as a learning, review, assessment, or scheduling tool

· My personal opinion of the resource’s holistic evaluation for a medical student at some point in their four years.

o Virtually Essential > Strongly Recommended > Recommended > Somewhat Useful > Not Recommended

Summary of Holistic Evaluations

· Virtually Essential

o Pathoma

o Boards and Beyond

o First Aid Book

o UWorld

o OnlineMedEd Free

o UpToDate

· Strongly Recommended

o Osmosis YouTube Videos

o Firecracker

o USMLERx QMax

o OnlineMedEd Premium

o Physeo

o Pastest USMLE

o Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine Book

o DynaMed

o Step-Up to Medicine Book

· Recommended

o Dr. Najeeb

o Lecturio

o Anki

o Picmomic

o SketchyMedical

o USMLERx Rx360

o Kaplan Qbank

o Stanford Medicine 25

o Clinical Key

· Somewhat Useful

o Osmosis Prime

o Figure 1

· Not Recommended

o Doctors in Training (DIT)

o Kaplan Step 1 High Yield Lectures

The Resources (in no particular order)

· Sample Resource:

o Website:

o Cost:

o Exposure:

o Description:

o Categorization:

o Holistic evaluation:

· Dr. Najeeb

o Website: World's Most Popular Medical Lectures

o Cost: Lifetime subscription price varies by the week, but usually between $59 and $89.

o Exposure: Dr. Najeeb was among the first resources I purchased this year. I bought a lifetime membership for $59 and have had it for the majority of the year. Several of my peers also purchased lifetime memberships and have used it more than me. I’ve also read quite a bit about Dr. Najeeb and am a member of the reasonably useful Facebook group associated with the resource.

o Description and value in general: Dr. Najeeb has over 800 lectures and counting, with roughly 100 coming in the past year alone. Each lecture is roughly 40 minutes long and the goal of his lectures is to cover all Step 1 content starting from scratch. Dr. Najeeb uses a traditional white board and draws up every concept with the intent of requiring no roughly no background information on a given topic. Therefore, his lectures are great if you have poor background on a particular field or topic. For example, I had a relatively weak biochemistry background entering medical school, and wanted to learn Step 1 biochemistry content first to hopefully turn that weakness into a strength. I was able to get through all of Dr. Najeeb’s biochemistry lectures, I understood them as I went along since he is a relatively high quality communicator of content, and I left the lecture set feeling pretty capable in terms of my foundational understanding of biochemistry at the medical student level. The downside is time. Dr. Najeeb’s biochemistry lecture series is roughly 70 hours long, and even at 2x playback speed (which I trained myself to get used to because it seemed like the only way), this venture still took several months of studying in the background. For a student with a weak science background, this is probably a worthwhile resource even if you only use it for a smattering of topics. For a student with a dearth of learning video lecture resources, this is a cheap and decent solution. Dr. Najeeb is a character and you will remember much of what he says, though be warned he sometimes does make unfortunately misogynistic quips. The community of users seems to agree that his phyiology, biochemistry, and neuroanatomy videos are best, and that his pathology videos are quite weak.

o Categorization: Learning. Dr. Najeeb is meant for a first-pass of a topic. It takes time, but you will indeed learn. There are no flashcards or practice questions associated.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommend. It is likely most useful for first year students, with its worth likely to taper off over time.

· Pathoma

o Website: pathoma.com

o Cost: $120/21 months. I was able to secure 32 months—the length I preferred at the time—for $100, so it is likely worth emailing to check for deals. There is a free trial version which allows you to view a small sample of videos.

o Exposure: I bought Pathoma about eight months ago and have used it fairly often since. Several of my peers have also been using Pathoma. I have read quite a bit online since Pathoma has such a massive following.

o Description: Pathoma is a 35-hour long crash course of video lectures teaching pathology with an associated textbook. Pathoma breaks up Step 1-level pathology into 19 chapters, each with roughly two hours of video lectures. The lectures are in PPT format with writing and voiceover by their author, Dr. Sattar. Dr. Sattar is a pathologist at the University of Chicago and he is both well-known and fantastic. In my opinion, Dr. Sattar is perhaps the best medical lecturer I have heard, and he is well respected in the medical student community. His textbook comes free with any subscription purchase and following along and taking notes in the text while watching lectures is quite helpful. The focus of the lectures is obviously pathology, though they do engage with biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, histology, and other fields fairly often which is great for making connections.

o Categorization: Learning and review. Dr. Sattar moves pretty fast, so it is likely best as a second-pass learning resource on a topic. Over your four years, you will want to go through each Pathoma lecture multiple times.

o Holistic evaluation: Virtually essential. Pathoma would be fairly useful in MS1 and quite useful in MS2. It is a must for pre-dedicated board study.

· Osmosis Prime and Osmosis YouTube Videos

o Website: osmosis.org

o Cost: Most of the videos themselves are FREE and available on YouTube. Osmosis Prime, their full service, costs about $300 for 2 years or about $450 for four years. There are frequent discount codes and there is a two-week free trial of the full product.

o Exposure: I have used the Osmosis videos frequently this year in preparing for PBL groups and when learning new topics. I have used Osmosis Prime in the last few weeks. Several of my peers have used trials of Osmosis Prime or purchased it throughout the year.

o Description: Osmosis is a service first and foremost meant to link in resources to your medical school’s lectures. They have a fairly sophisticated algorithm where you upload your daily lecture PPT and Osmosis provides you whole-lecture or slide-by-slide resources including videos, flashcards, and practice questions. Osmosis also has a good search function which allows you to find videos, flashcards, and practice questions by topic. They have a decent system of interleaving for flashcards and practice questions seemingly inspired by Anki. Osmosis also has a quality scheduling feature, either to fit with your school’s blocks or to your Step 1 preparation. The Osmosis videos, which are linked into Osmosis Prime but are virtually all also free on YouTube, are 8-ish minute videos on a particular diagnosis. They are digitally drawn with a voiceover presenting the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of the disease in question and are quite engaging if only decently deep.

o Categorization: Osmosis Pime-Learning, Review, Assessment, and Scheduling; Free Osmosis YouTube Videos-Learning. The Osmosis videos are a great first-pass learning resource. The flashcards and practice questions allow for interleaved review. You can build quizzes by field or including all Step 1 or Step 2 content. The quiz interface is good, the explanations are helpful, and there are several thousand questions. The only downside to the quizzes is you have no option to take a whole block of questions and then view answers, with each explanation following directly after the question. The scheduling system in Osmosis Prime is straightforward but well made. The Step 1 schedule automatically fills in topics to review each day and some resources to use in order to review them which is nice.

o Holistic evaluation: Osmosis Prime: Somewhat Useful. If you are not concerned about your resource budget, Osmosis Prime does provide benefit for IQ studying in MS1. The videos are the best part of Osmosis, and they are free on YouTube, so even if you don’t buy Osmosis Prime I would highly recommend checking for YouTube Osmosis videos associated with each IQ topic in MS1. Osmosis Prime, with its flashcards and topical practice questions, is a decent replacement for Firecracker, but you probably don’t need to purchase both. The Step 1 scheduler is a nice feature that might make a short subscription in pre-dedicated time worthwhile. Free Osmosis YouTube videos: Strongly Recommended.

· Doctors in Training (DIT)

o Website: Doctors In Training | USMLE : Step 1, Step 2 CK :: COMLEX : Level 1, Level 2 :: Pharmacology, Anatomy, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN

o Cost: Step 1 course is $825 for one year, Step 2 course is $799 for one year

o Exposure: I never purchased DIT, but I read about it extensively online and I did have a phone call with a member of the DIT team to discuss its potential fit for students in our program. I spent a bit of time working with the limited DIT trial version.

o Description: DIT is mainly a video lecture course, with 100 or so hours of 20 minute videos broken up by topic. In watching a few trial videos, they seem okay and do include some questions in each video to break up the slog of the lecture. In reading about DIT, people complain that the videos are essentially just the speaker reading First Aid to you without much added benefit, and I can believe that. The videos are informative but not super engaging in my opinion. In addition, DIT provides a few hundred questions broken up into daily 10-question chunks. They also provide a study calendar, though I haven’t had the chance to try it out. Do notice the price, however. DIT is expensive!

o Categorization: Learning and Review. DIT lectures you through all First Aid topics and then provides you with a few questions to check your understanding. It would probably be a decent first- or more likely second-pass learning tool with the tools to review content as well.

o Holistic evaluation: Not Recommended. DIT could be worth trying out for $100 over two years or something, but at its price point it is ludicrous and seemingly aimed at those who didn’t do their homework in resource shopping.

· Kaplan Step 1 High Yield Lectures

o Website: Studying for Your Boards? Kaplan's Got You Covered From USMLE Step 1 Through Step 3

o Cost: $450 for 3 months

o Exposure: I spoke to the folks at Kaplan and I was able to get a brief trial of their service. I saw a few videos and tried out their practice questions. I’ve also read extensively about Kaplan on forums. I’ve also had a chance to skim through a friend’s copy of the lecture note books.

o Description: Much like DIT, Kaplan is a beast in terms of its cost. It is not cheap, and its subscriptions are shockingly abbreviated. The core product here is a set of 55 hours of videos covering all Step 1 content with accompanying textbooks which they call lecture notes. The lectures seem mildly inspired and so go beyond just reciting First Aid, but they didn’t seem groundbreaking. Of note, the pharmacology lectures led by Raymon are supposed to be top-notch and hold the respect of the medical student community, especially since there are a dearth of good pharmacology resources. I have watched a few hours of Raymon and definitely learned a fair bit, though he does move a bit slowly. The lecture notes are good, but are too concise to be a good first-pass without having the videos as well. Kaplan also provides short multiple choice quizzes following each video.

o Categorization: Learning. I think the videos and accompanying texts could be a decent first-pass of a topic, and the quizzes enable a check for understanding review.

o Holistic evaluation: Not Recommended. I would say “somewhat useful” if not for the price.

· Boards and Beyond

o Website: boardsandbeyond.com

o Cost: $149 for one year, although I had talks with someone from Boards and Beyond and they told me we could work out a longer term subscription (2 years or 3 years) at an appropriate price.

o Exposure: Boards and Beyond offered me five months free to try out the product and see how it fits our curriculum. I have used the resource heavily. I have also read about it extensively online.

o Description: Boards and Beyond is a relatively new tool, having come out about two years ago. It is a fairly straightforward product, aiming to be much like Pathoma but covering all Step 1 content instead of just pathology. Boards and Beyond includes about 300 videos including about 100 hours of PPT lectures with writing and voiceover by Dr. Ryan, a cardiologist at the University of Connecticut College of Medicine. The videos are of excellent quality, and are the best balance of concise and detailed I have seen in medical education. In my opinion, Boards and Beyond is simply fantastic. There are also print-outs of each PPT for you to follow along with for taking notes if you so choose. The video lecture catalog is quickly expanding, with psychiatry and MSK videos published in the last few months. The videos are high energy and Dr. Ryan is a talented lecturer who injects clinical know-how into his work. The depth of the videos is quite good as well, as Dr. Ryan does not gloss over important details.

o Categorization: Learning. Boards and Beyond is the quintessential first-pass learning tool. Pause and take notes frequently and you will leave a 20 minute lecture with tons of accessible and new-found knowledge.

o Holistic evaluation: Virtually Essential. Boards and Beyond is the tool that finally allowed me to be comfortable learning in our curriculum.

· Lecturio

o Website: lecturio.com

o Cost: $240/year. There is a free trial which allows access to about 500 videos.

o Exposure: I spent a fair amount of time checking out the reasonably substantial free trial to get a feel for Lecturio. One of my fellow peers subscribed to the full program and has used it much more extensively.

o Description: Lecturio is a video lecture series including over 3,000 videos which range from 1 to 40 minutes each, with many about five minutes long. These bite-sized chunks cover a huge breadth of topics from MCAT content to Step 1 to Step 2 to nursing NCLEX material. Lecturio is a German company which caters to not only American but also international medical students. There are a wide variety of lecturers who vary in quality. The user interface and search functionality are quite good. Each video topic is associated with several Firecracker-like recall questions to quickly check if you were paying attention. In addition, there are about 500 USMLE-style multiple choice practice questions to review the content. The online community is notably split on Lecturio. Some people enjoy the product, but I’ve heard numerous complaints that the lectures cover only surface level content and do not dive deep enough for Step 1 or Step 2 understanding. With that said, my colleague found the resource useful for a first-pass learning of new topics.

o Categorization: Learning and Review. Lecturio seems to be built as a first-pass learning tool, with some level of post-video review of content.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. I don’t personally think Lecturio is necessary if you are purchasing other first-pass learning resources, but it is a reasonable alternative.

· First Aid Book

o Website: Amazon product
o Cost: $37

o Exposure: I have been using a copy of First Aid 2016 through much of my first year to gain an appreciation for its value this early in medical school. I have also read about First Aid at length and there seems to be relative consensus of opinion.

o Description: First Aid is very straightforward. It is an 800-page book outlining all Step 1 content. It has been written in yearly additions for more than 20 years and is the gold standard for what it does. It is commonly referred to as the “bible” of Step 1. As I have found this year, it is a terrible learning resource. The content is crammed in to help the reader remember, make connections, and memorize. It is not a useful read if you have never learned about the topic in question. With that said, it is decent as an interleaved review source either after studying right or as a check in the weeks and months thereafter.

o Categorization: Review. Plain and simple, First Aid is useful if you have learned a topic and want to refresh yourself on the most vital, concise associated content.

o Holistic evaluation: Virtually Essential. With that said, you won’t likely need it in MS1. You probably want to buy a copy for your pre-dedicated and dedicated time.

· Anki

o Website: Anki - powerful, intelligent flashcards

o Cost: Free for computers, $25 for phone app

o Exposure: I downloaded Anki about six months ago and have used it sporadically since. Dedicated Anki users will tell you that dedication is everything, that it is a product only useful when utilized daily. I have not done that for more than a week at a time, and I am confident I would see more value in the product if I was more consistent. I have read extensively online about Anki.

o Description: Anki is a flashcard-making and flashcard-using program which has uses for learning any topic but is most famous for medical school flashcards. There are two chief ways Anki is used by medical students. Some medical students create thousands of their own flashcards over the course of their curriculum, making flashcards associated with each school lecture and sometime sharing them with their peers. Many who do this claim that the making of the flashcards is as educational as the recall-testing, but it is a quite time-consuming process. The other way Anki tends to get used is by downloading a popular deck of flash cards made by someone else and recall-testing interleaved flashcards to review content that way. The most famous Anki deck by far is the brosencephalon deck, which was made several years ago but has been updated several times by the dedicated Anki community. The brosencephalon deck (or Bros for short) is a set of several thousand flashcards intended to cover all First Aid and Pathoma material. The user can easily add more and more Bros flashcards into their personal deck as they cover topics in First Aid or chapters in Pathoma. I used the Bros deck several times as I was going through Pathoma and I found the questions specific and well-made. The newest Bros updates also include images associated with some flashcards. Anki has a relatively antiquated user interface, but for the price (free) you really can’t complain. In many ways, I feel like Anki is the Linux to Microsoft’s and Apple’s of medical education review tools like Firecracker and Osmosis Prime.

o Categorization: Review. Anki is the quintessential flashcard review tool. The medical student community seems polarized on if flashcards are awesome or suboptimal, but if you are a flashcard person or think you might become one, Anki is free and worth checking out.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. If you remain dedicated, I think Anki could be quite helpful at maintaining and expanding your understanding of needed facts in medicine. It does not replace assessment tools, but for review it has great potential.

· Picmonic

o Website: picmonic.com

o Cost: $288 for two years, though there are discounts available.

o Exposure: I tried out Picmonic Free, the limited version of Picmonic, early in the on and didn’t really appreciate the product. I read more about it over the months and ultimately purchased a full subscription mid-way through the year. I also signed on as an ambassador for my school and as such I’ve gotten to communicate more with the Picmonic staff and other ambassadors.

o Description: Picmonic is best as a review tool. It uses very brief 1-2 minute elaborate drawings to teach medical concepts. A self-described “visual storytelling platform,” Picmonic teaches content by creating an associated story which links various facts associated with the concept. The videos look a bit silly in how they use a beta fish licking a lollipop to symbolize beta blockers (like metoprolol), for example, but they do work. This seemingly odd modality is heavily influenced by the dual coding effect and research on multimodal processing which show pretty strongly that we remember better when presented with visual and audio connections to an idea. Further, the connected narrative of phonetically related facets of an image plays into the picture superiority effect, which says that pictures are easier to remember and quicker to retrieve than words. In this way, Picmonic is perhaps a more efficient way to remember and recall material than word-based modalities like Anki or First Aid alone. With that said, a combination of these resources is likely best. Of note, unlike most of the resources on this list, there actually has been some published research on the effect of Picmonic which found it to be effective when compared to lecture note studying. Picmonic also has brief recall-style “quizzes” alongside each video to provide one more opportunity for multimodal integration. I have heard it said that Picmonic is most useful at a concept-to-concept level the fewer Picmonics you use. While this is a bit paradoxical and I’m not sure I totally agree, I can see the logic in the idea. Picmonic is best for topics which you struggle to remember otherwise, and if you tried to cram hundreds of Picmonics in your head at once it might be less effective. Unlike its main competitor in the multimodal review field, SketchyMedical, Picmonic includes not only pharmacology and microbiology but also essentially all Step 1 topics from anatomy to physiology to pathology. Picmonic as a company seems to be quickly evolving and in the time I’ve had the product there have been several updates and additions, with more likely to come.

o Categorization: Review. Picmonic does have short paragraphs to teach you the medicine behind each picture and story on a topic, but it is not intended to cover the full depth of material from start to finish. It is effective at helping you remember and quickly recall information you have previously learned elsewhere. Of note, Picmonic is decently integrated into Osmosis Prime, so if you purchase Osmosis then Picmonic has some additional value.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. I think that in pre-dedicated and dedicated study time when you are really needing to memorize the factoids of bugs and drugs (microbiology and pharmacology), you will need either Picmonic or SketchyMedical. Picmonic, with its wider topic set, also has a fair amount of value in MS1-2. You will likely survive without it, but I believe it has the potential to give an edge in quicker fact-processing in clinic so I think Picmonic could be an asset. Definitely a try-before-you-buy product.

· SketchyMedical

o Website: SketchyMedical - Master the USMLE STEP 1 the fast and fun way

o Cost: $170 for six months, $250 for one year.

o Exposure: I admittedly have more limited exposure to SketchyMedical than most of the products discussed here. I did get a trial version of SketchyMedical and have talked to numerous students who used the resource. I have also read a bunch online about SketchyMedical.

o Description: SketchyMedical is composed of multimodal picture-stories about content in two distinct fields, microbiology (SketchyMicro) and pharmacology (SketchyPharm). There is also a much smaller pathology video set (SketchyPath) which was just released and seems to have more less positive reviews than the other Sketchy products. Much like its main competitor, Picmonic, Sketchy has pictures with voiceovers which are meant to review a topic and expressly to remember the various factoids associated with that topic for faster recall and connection of facts. Whereas Picmonics tend to be about two minutes long, Sketchy videos tend to dive into more detail and are about 20 minutes long. This is a double-edged sword: some user say this is fantastic because it allows for more depth for learning in addition to more detail for review; others say this makes the videos overly convoluted with too much to appropriately remember. Sketchy is essentially best as a cramming source, for lack of a better word. Eventually we all need to know quick-recall microbiology and pharmacology, and Sketchy is a well-respected resource to get you there. There are about 100 SketchyMicro videos, another 100 SketchyPharm videos, and 30 new SketchyPath videos. People seem to love the micro videos, like the pharm videos, and largely dislike the path videos although they just came out two months ago so there is room for potential improvement.

o Categorization: Review. In many ways, Sketchy is like Picmonic. It is great at what it does, but is fairly specialized. Sketchy is perhaps closer to a second-pass learning tool than Picmonic given its longer and deeper videos, but it also has far fewer topics and it more expensive.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. As above, I would recommend buying a few months before Step if you don’t already have Picmonic, but probably not sooner.

· Firecracker

o Website: Firecracker - Learn Faster, Remember Everything

o Cost: $300 for two years, $400 for four years currently; there are frequent discounts and sometimes it is even a bit cheaper.

o Exposure: I have had a full Firecracker subscription for most of this year. I used it extensively for several months of the year. I have also read quite a bit online and gathered opinions of my fellow students.

o Description: Firecracker is built to be a full-service review tool with a fantastic topic organizer. Firecracker has built an excellent hierarchy of Step 1 and Step 2 topics, and for each of their 2,000 topics they have numerous flashcard-style recall questions, about 33,000 in total. After seeing a recall question, you click to reveal the answer and then you self-assess to determine how well you knew the answer. The recall questions themselves are of reasonably mediocre quality and are more like flashcards with surface-level material than practice problems. The recall questions play into Firecracker’s well-built interleaving algorithm that assigns a particular set of questions to you each day considering previous attempts, recently of first contact with the topic, and their subjective qualification of topic yield. In terms of user interface, topic hierarchy, and interleaving algorithm, Firecracker is the best in the business. Firecracker is great for reviewing content and trying to maintain your knowledge, but its best use might be for appreciating the scope of undergraduate medical education. After using Firecracker for months and constantly marking off new topics I’ve learned while staring at those yet to be checked off, I came to understand the scope of what I know and what I don’t yet know and this is an underappreciated but extremely vital aspect of medical school. Each Firecracker topic also has a paragraph or two of content explanation, which is decent for review but is not enough for first-pass learning. Firecracker also has about 1,000 boards-style multiple choice questions to give you a taste of assessment practice. The Firecracker company seems to be busy and quickly expanding, and in the year I’ve used the product there have been numerous new features with others likely to come in the future.

o Categorization: Review, Assessment, and Scheduling. Firecracker is first and foremost a review tool, helping students to recall and maintain information that they initially learned elsewhere. There is a small element of assessment, with a few practice blocks of Step 1 questions, although not enough to keep you from buying a real Qbank when you need one. For scheduling and topic organization in medical school, Firecracker is excellent.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommend. There are decent alternatives out there like Osmosis Prime, but I strongly recommend every MS1 should purchase Firecracker for the first three years of medical school at least if they’re willing to really put time into it.

· USMLE World (UWorld)

o Website: uworld.com

o Cost: $299/90 days, $349/180 days

o Exposure: I have not personally had the opportunity to try out UWorld, but I have talked to and read from many medical students who have and the consensus is clear.

o Description: UWorld is a question bank (Qbank) of 2400 USMLE-style multiple choice questions with associated explanations. Choosing whether or not you need UWorld looks to be one of the easiest decisions on this list. Medical students almost unanimously name UWorld as the most important resource for Step board prep. UWorld questions are widely agreed to be the most similar in style and difficulty to the real USMLE exam. Further, students say that the explanations on UWorld are the most valuable aspect of the tool. As with any Qbank, the value is in taking a block of questions and then carefully going over the question explanations to identify and address content gaps.

o Categorization: Assessment. UWorld is a pure Qbank and the most respected Qbank in the field.

o Holistic evaluation: Virtually Essential. Every medical student should buy UWorld for dedicated study time at least.
 
OP
jordan222

jordan222

2+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2015
142
138
Status
Medical Student
· USMLERx QMax and Rx360

o Website: USMLE-Rx

o Cost: QMax (Qbank) is $200/12 months or $300/24 months; Rx360 (Qbank+review videos+flashcards) is $300/12 months or $400/24 months; Note that there are often discount codes.

o Exposure: I have used brief trial versions of both the QMax and the Express Videos. I have also read extensively from users. One of my peers purchased USMLERx360 and has provided feedback as well.

o Description: USMLERx is really two related products: QMax and Rx360. The former is a pretty straightforward question bank of USMLE-style multiple choice questions with explanations, much like UWorld. The latter includes QMax but also houses a series of 80 hours of Step 1 content videos called Express Videos and a set of 10,000 flash cards on First Aid content called Flash Facts. USMLERx is the same company that writes the First Aid book and that shows through in their subscription service here. The Express Videos are meant to be a review source to essentially read through First Aid with you, much like the DIT videos. The Flash Facts are meant to cover all First Aid material in a way similar to the Anki Bros deck, including appropriate interleaving. The most valuable product here is the QMax, the 2,300 practice problem question bank. Though reviewers say the questions and associated explanations are not UWorld quality, they are quite good and probably the second best in the Qbank market. Given that most students will likely utilize two different question banks in their time running up to Step 1, QMax definitely has value.

o Categorization: QMax-Assessment; Rx360-Review and Assessment. QMAx is a straightforward Qbank made for doing blocks of practice problems and learning from the associated explanations. The flash cards and videos of Rx360 provide an alternate way of reviewing First Aid material.

o Holistic evaluation: QMax-Strongly Recommended. Rx360-Recommended. In addition to UWorld in pre-dedicated/dedicated time, I believe students should purchase a second full Qbank to use first, either USMLERx or Kaplan Qbank, or perhaps the free Pastest.

· Kaplan Qbank

o Website: USMLE Step 1 Questions & Qbank | Kaplan Test Prep

o Cost: $200/12 months, $300/18 months; there are often discount codes.

o Exposure: I was able to try out a trial version of the Kaplan Qbank to check out the user interface and a few questions. I have also read quite a few user reviews online.

o Description: Kaplan’s Qbank is in many regards quite similar to their direct competitor, USMLERx. The Kaplan Qbank has 2,100 boards-style multiple choice questions and is built for taking blocks of practice questions and then learning from the associated explanations. The user interface, questions, and explanations have the reputation of being good, but perhaps not quite to the quality of USMLERx and certainly not at the high standard of UWorld.

o Categorization: Assessment. The Kaplan Qbank is a wholly different product from their High Yield course and this standalone is all about assessment using practice questions.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. I think two successive Qbanks will be enough for most students, rather than needing to purchase all three major Qbanks. UWorld is the best, and there seems to be a slight community preference for USMLERx over Kaplan as a secondary Qbank. With that said, Kaplan is a solid product.

· OnlineMedEd (OME) Free and Premium

o Website: OnlineMedEd

o Cost: OME Free is free; OME Premium is $40/month.

o Exposure: I have been using OME Free all year and have utilized it quite a bit. I have read extensively about OME Premium, though I have not purchased it yet.

o Description: OnlineMedEd is a relatively new product in the field and it breaks down into two related products. One is OME Free, which is the set of free videos on the website. All OME videos are free, and they are simply fantastic. OnlineMedEd as a company is geared towards Step 2 and clinical medicine, and the videos all presented by Dr. Williams, an internal medicine physician at Tulane, and his whiteboard. Dr. Williams is a superb lecturer, and his 15-ish minute videos on clinical topics focus on specific heuristics and need-to-know information for clerkships, shelf exams, and Step 2. There are currently 71 hours of video split into roughly 450 topics. There is a nice search tool for finding videos on a particular topic, and the videos cover virtually all Step 2 content as well as quite a few focused on intern-year topics. There are also nice schedulers for both clerkships and Step 2 studying which integrate the OME videos and other Premium content. OME Premium is a quite expensive addition to the wonderful videos, and it includes 400 pages of notes to accompany and summarize the videos, audio downloads of the videos, 1,200 boards-style practice questions, 10,000 flashcards, and 40 clinical cases. The notes and audio downloads have some obvious value to interleave learning. I had the opportunity to view several trial practice questions, and the explanations are quite well-written in that Dr. Williams need-to-know style, which differs a bit from other Qbanks and focuses more on practical shelf exam and ward learning. In my nine months of using OnlineMedEd, I have been incredibly impressed with Dr. Williams and his team, and his resources look to be of exceptionally high quality.

o Categorization: OME Free: Learning. The OME videos are an excellent way to first-pass learn a topic. OME Premium: Learning, Review, Assessment, and Scheduling. I think the premium resources could be of huge value during clerkship year.

o Holistic evaluation: OME Free: Virtually Essential. The OnlineMedEd videos are the best clinical medicine learning resource I have found, and they complement more preclinical-oriented resources like Boards and Beyond and Osmosis videos well. OME Premium: Strongly Recommended. Students will not need OME Premium until clerkships, but it is likely a quite helpful tool that year and can help keep students afloat.

· Physeo

o Website: physeo.com

o Cost: $110/12 months; $132/24 months. Note that this is a new product and as such there are steep discounts available if you ask the company directly. I was able to obtain a two-year subscription for $30. There is a free trial version which allows you to view a small sample of videos.

o Exposure: I purchased a Physeo subscription several months ago and have used it frequently. I have also read online reviews of Physeo.

o Description: Physeo is a quite new product built chiefly because third-party physiology learning resources are scarce. The goal of Physeo is to emulate the concise-yet-detailed-enough PPT style of Pathoma, but with a focus on physiology. Physeo consists of about 60 30-ish minute videos. There is also a textbook PDF which is meant to go along with the videos in a way again emulating Pathoma. I was initially skeptical about Physeo because there are few reviews of this months-old product and because instead of being made by expert medical educators like Pathoma, Boards and Beyond, and OnlineMedEd, Physeo is made by a group of third-year medical students. Whereas those expertly-created resources inject numerous practical gems, I was worried that Physeo would be a less authoritative source for learning. Honestly, upon trying out a few videos I was surprisingly impressed. The videos are well-made with above-average explanations diving into physiology content which is not well-covered by any other set of video lectures I’ve yet found. Further, the videos do a great job of throwing in practice questions every few minutes of the lecture, appropriately interleaving and introducing pathology into their topics. The video lectures do seem to bounce around a bit within a broad topic, but this loose nature is effective at keeping the learner on their toes. If you want to learn or shore up your understanding of an organ system’s physiology in an enjoyable and relatively concise manner, Physeo is great.

o Categorization: Learning. I have a weak background in physiology and have used Physeo as essentially a first-pass learning tool. I found the lectures both accessible and informative in linking in physiology concepts with basic science and clinical medicine.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommend. If you can obtain a subscription anywhere near the $30/24 months price I was able to get, Physeo is a no-brainer. Even at their higher listed prices, Physeo fills a void in medical education learning tools adequately.

· Pastest USMLE

o Website: www.pastest.com

o Cost: FREE

o Exposure: I have used Pastest for much of the past year. I have completed several hundred practice problems and used the associated explanations for my own learning.

o Description: Pastest is one of the more mysterious products currently available for medical students. It is a British-made medical student Qbank with separate Qbanks for USMLE Step 1 as well as dentistry and various British and international exams. The design and user interface of Pastest USMLE are quite straightforward, and Pastest highly resembles USMLERx and Kaplan Qbank. Pastest UMSLE is a Qbank with 2,300 boards-style questions which can be taken in 40-question blocks with associated explanations or one-by-one. There is a free Pastest app that allows you to download a block of questions and explanations for offline use, which is quite nice. Frankly, Pastest is a decent Qbank. The questions vary pretty wildly in difficulty from broad, almost flashcard-like content to specific and peculiar minutia, but they are all within the realm of reason and the explanations are adequate for review and learning. I would say Pastest is a small step below USMLERx and Kaplan Qbank in quality, but it is free. It’s actually pretty bizarre why it is free, given that it is of high enough quality to warrant a subscription fee and Pastest’s Qbanks for other exams do have a fee of roughly $100/year. I have always been a little leery of Pastest both due to its oddly being free and the fact that it is almost never talked about in the online medical student community. I have been looking for the “catch” all year with Pastest, but have yet to find one. It is a good, free resource.

o Categorization: Assessment. Pastest is a straightforward Qbank of practice problems to test your understanding of information and prepare students for Step 1.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommended. As long as Pastest is free, and as long as a huge “catch” isn’t discovered, there is no reason to not use Pastest to familiarize yourself with boards-style questions.

· Stanford Medicine 25

o Website: The 25 | Stanford Medicine 25 | Stanford Medicine

o Cost: FREE

o Exposure: I just heard about the Stanford 25 about two months ago and have watch and read several of their topics. I’ve also read online reviews, though there is little written about the program online.

o Description: Stanford Medicine 25 is a set of physical exam resources developed by a group of professors at Stanford School of Medicine and is aimed to teach medical students the necessities of physical exam which they believe are underemphasized in modern medical education. Each of the 25 topics covered includes both a video and some associated reading, where a medical educator walks through a particular aspect of the physical exam, often practicing skills on a standardized patient or model. The Stanford 25 is quite targeted to these specific topics in the physical exam, but it is a quality and free resource.

o Categorization: Learning. The Stanford 25 has no practice problems or review documents, just a small set of valuable, straightforward learning resources.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. The Stanford 25 is a helpful way to learn and gain clarity on details of the physical exam.

· Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine Book

o Website: Find through your school’s library.

o Cost: Free online with most medical school libraries.

o Exposure: I have been reading topics from Harrison’s through much of the year. I have also discussed the book with numerous medical students and medical educators.

o Description: Harrison’s is one of the quintessential books for medical school. It is an enormous tome containing a few pages of information on nearly any pathology. The search function in the online version—my school uses Access Medicine—quickly allows you to find the appropriate section of the book, which tends to include an introduction, pathophysiology, approach to the patient, and treatment options. The text is written in paragraph form making it reasonably easy to follow, though it often uses dense language. Harrison’s is not a book to be read from start to finish, but is rather a reference book to be accessed when learning about a particular topic.

o Categorization: Learning. Harrison’s is a classic reference book for medical education.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommended. Harrison’s is a reference guide, and for a quick glance into a topic it is high quality.

· UpToDate

o Website: Find through your school’s library.

o Cost: Free online with most medical school libraries.

o Exposure: I’ve used UpToDate as a point-of-care and learning resource for much of the year. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with numerous medical students and doctors about how they use UpToDate.

o Description: UpToDate is built as a point-of-care tool, meant for looking up quick summaries of information in clinic when you only have a few minutes. For this purpose, UpToDate is fantastic, and probably the best tool for that purpose. If you want to quickly identify evidence-based diagnostic modalities or treatment options or a differential diagnosis for a particular diagnosis, UpToDate is your go-to resource. It has adequate search functionality and frequent content updates to include new research evidence. UpToDate is written almost entirely in bullet point, outlined format, so it is most useful if you only want a very brief snapshot of a topic or if you already understand a topic and just want current recommendations.

o Categorization: Learning and Review. UpToDate is a point-of-care tool. It is useful for a very brief first-pass learning of a new topic in clinic if you only have five minutes. It is also useful as a review to identify current recommendations of a previously-learned topic.

o Holistic evaluation: Virtually Essential. Almost every clinician, resident, and student I have talked to uses either UpToDate or its direct competitor, DynaMed, on a daily basis. Medical students should learn early on that UpToDate is useful, as long as you treat it as a point-of-care resource rather than a complete, detailed learning tool.

· DynaMed

o Website: Find through your school’s library.

o Cost: Free online with most medical school libraries.

o Exposure: I’ve used DynaMed as a point-of-care and learning resource for much of the year. I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with numerous medical students and doctors about how they use DynaMed.

o Description: DynaMed is built to look and feel quite similar to its main competitor, UpToDate. Like UpToDate, DynaMed is a point-of-care tool built for quick access to current recommendations regarding diagnosis and management of a huge variety of pathologies. DynaMed is also written in bullet-point outlined format, although I have found it to be a bit more verbose in laying out detail relative to the slightly more quick-hit UpToDate. Honestly, the two point-of-care products are virtually interchangeable. Most people I’ve talked to prefer UpToDate just a bit over DynaMed, though both are of excellent quality.

o Categorization: Learning and Review. DynaMed is a point-of-care tool. It is useful for a very brief first-pass learning of a new topic in clinic if you only have a few minutes. It is also useful as a review to identify current recommendations of a previously-learned topic.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommended. Almost every clinician, resident, and student I have talked to uses either DynaMed or its direct competitor, UpToDate, on a daily basis. Medical students should learn early on that DynaMed is useful, as long as you treat it as a point-of-care resource rather than a complete, detailed learning tool. If I had to choose, I would say UpToDate is a slightly better point-of-care resource, though it is splitting hairs.

· Step-Up to Medicine Book

o Website: Amazon product
o Cost: $49.25

o Exposure: I obtained a copy of Step-Up to Medicine a few months ago and have used it roughly a dozen times when learning about new topics. I have also read online reviews and have spoken to several fellow medical students about the book.

o Description: Step-Up to Medicine is a print book which summarizes several hundred of the most common internal medicine pathologies into a page or two of bullet-pointed outline-style information. In many ways it is like a less-current print version of UpToDate, but it is written in a simpler style which is perhaps more accessible to medical students. It is a solid first-pass learning tool in point-of-care settings for medical students.

o Categorization: Learning. Step-Up to Medicine is a solid and accessible way for a medical student to get a snapshot of a pathology, its diagnosis, and treatment in a few moments. It is best as a first-pass tool of a newly-seen diagnosis in clinic.

o Holistic evaluation: Strongly Recommended. In clinic, especially during medicine rotation, Step-Up to Medicine is a good tool to have on-hand for initial learning.

· Figure 1

o Website: Figure 1 Home

o Cost: FREE

o Exposure: I have been using Figure 1 sporadically over the past few months. I have also read online about the service and have heard from several doctors who utilize the tool.

o Description: Figure 1 aims to be the social media of clinical medicine. Much like Facebook or Twitter, Figure 1 is built around a media feed. This feed primarily shows images of various pathologies, and provides an opportunity for the image author to provide a description or question, in addition for space for other users to comment. Each user is verified for their position (medical student, attending in a particular field, etc.) and Figure 1 is only built for the medical community. Figure 1 was initially built for quick crowdsourcing of medical consultation, and it looks like it is quite effective in that regard. In addition, it is a pretty good resource to get a variety of images pertaining to a particular diagnosis to get an idea of the spectrum of possible manifestations. There is a good, free app associated with Figure 1.

o Categorization: Learning. Figure 1 is a tool for learning after a student has studied a particular pathology to then appreciate the spectrum of manifestations for that pathology.

o Holistic evaluation: Somewhat Useful. While Figure 1 holds a quite specific purpose for medical students, it is free and easy to use, making it worth its while.

· Clinical Key

o Website: Find through your school’s library.

o Cost: FREE at many medical school online libraries.

o Exposure: I have used Clinical Key for PBL groups and other studying over the past few months. I have also spoken to several peers who have used the resource more extensively than me.

o Description: Clinical Key is a search engine for digital medical resources. It is itself a whole database including more information than you’ll ever read. When searching for a particular pathology, pharmacology, procedure, etc., Clinical Key will spit out thousands of reasonably well-targeted responses, each of which are categorized. You can search for specific categories of resources such as First Consult, Books, Videos, or Systematic Reviews. The First Consults are especially useful and are written somewhat like a long-form UpToDate or DynaMed entry. Though they are more verbose than those point-of-care tools, First Consults are more accessible and understandable to a medical student early on in their learning, especially if you are unfamiliar with a concept. The First Consults also include a Questions to Ask section which gives you fodder for conversations with upcoming patients affected by the condition in question if that applies. Clinical Key is a treasure trove.

o Categorization: Learning. Clinical Key, especially the First Consults, are solid first-pass learning tools.

o Holistic evaluation: Recommended. Clinical Key is a vast database of information of mostly-quality information. It can seem a bit loose because there is so much there, but starting with the First Consults tends to be a sound plan.

· Other Free YouTube Videos Worth Checking Out

o Armando Hasudungan

o StomponStep1

o Handwritten Tutorials

o Dr. Preddy Anatomy

o Khan Academy NCLEX-RN

Cheers.
 
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jordan222

jordan222

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A year in, so please take my pre-dedicated/dedicated extrapolations with a grain of salt. I mostly found myself starting medical school and being frustrated that I didn't know what to buy, when to buy it, or how to use it, so I did my best to answer those questions.
 
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mehc012

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But if everything is recommended, you still have to choose between them! Nice writeups, though.
 

Crayola227

The Oncoming Storm
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A year in, so please take my pre-dedicated/dedicated extrapolations with a grain of salt. I mostly found myself starting medical school and being frustrated that I didn't know what to buy, when to buy it, or how to use it, so I did my best to answer those questions.
consider updating your SDN status to reflect where you are in your own training - it's in the TOS to represent honestly/accurately, obviously an oversight on your part, but a consideration useful for other members

this is much more useful knowing this is a review of material by a student *in* medical school and not a premed testing things out ahead of time (yes, it's happened)
 
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jordan222

jordan222

2+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2015
142
138
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Medical Student
consider updating your SDN status to reflect where you are in your own training - it's in the TOS to represent honestly/accurately, obviously an oversight on your part, but a consideration useful for other members

this is much more useful knowing this is a review of material by a student *in* medical school and not a premed testing things out ahead of time (yes, it's happened)
Good call. Yes I am indeed a medical student who has used these resources in medical school and not a pre-med.
 
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jordan222

jordan222

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Apr 21, 2015
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But if everything is recommended, you still have to choose between them! Nice writeups, though.
Yeah I tried to separate between things I think medical students need to buy/use, things they should strongly consider buying/using, things that are fine but not super necessary, things I don't especially recommend but others might, and things which just don't seem useful (usually due to expense). I wrote the initial report for my school to disseminate as a researched student opinion, so I didn't want to speak too strongly and cause conflict.
 
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May 11, 2016
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So here's where you can be useful:

I'm an MS2 in a super traditional curriculum and MS2 is really USMLE-heavy. I've already had anatomy, biochem, and physiology. This year we do immuno, micro, path, pharm, etc. I have the following resources already:
- Pathoma
- Rx q-bank
- Anki (Zanki deck)
- SketchyMed (all 3)
- FA
- UWorld (will purchase for dedicated)

If I had limited financial resources left in my budget for resources, what 1 or 2 additions would you recommend?
 
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jordan222

jordan222

2+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2015
142
138
Status
Medical Student
So here's where you can be useful:

I'm an MS2 in a super traditional curriculum and MS2 is really USMLE-heavy. I've already had anatomy, biochem, and physiology. This year we do immuno, micro, path, pharm, etc. I have the following resources already:
- Pathoma
- Rx q-bank
- Anki (Zanki deck)
- SketchyMed (all 3)
- FA
- UWorld (will purchase for dedicated)

If I had limited financial resources left in my budget for resources, what 1 or 2 additions would you recommend?
Depending on the quality of your resources, in my non-expert opinion I would say Boards and Beyond might be the best help in MS2. I have found it to be awesome and since I don't have high quality lectures here it is a huge help for first-pass and second-pass (at 2x speed) learning. I would also recommend watching OnlineMedEd videos to gain the heuristics necessary to apply all the lecture-based knowledge you learn in the first few years of medical school--and they're free. Honestly though, you seem to be in pretty good shape.
 
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Crayola227

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Oct 22, 2013
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i have been using pastest and have been wondering if USMLE RX is worth it if both are just questions about stuff from FA.
maybe USMLE Rx has improved in the years since I was given a free subscription to be one of the beta testers, but back then I thought it was garbage compared to UW or Kaplan

IMHO, it will depend on how many test banks you need, I think 3 is overkill when you figure how good UW is, especially if you wring all the goodness from it reading all the explanations, consider retaking all the ones you get wrong, rinse and repeat with a 2nd bank even... jeez
 

PatchA

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Incoming M1 here- this is awesome, thank you!
 

Oh_Gee

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maybe USMLE Rx has improved in the years since I was given a free subscription to be one of the beta testers, but back then I thought it was garbage compared to UW or Kaplan

IMHO, it will depend on how many test banks you need, I think 3 is overkill when you figure how good UW is, especially if you wring all the goodness from it reading all the explanations, consider retaking all the ones you get wrong, rinse and repeat with a 2nd bank even... jeez
i'm mostly just using it now to review systems from first year
 
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jordan222

jordan222

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Apr 21, 2015
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i have been using pastest and have been wondering if USMLE RX is worth it if both are just questions about stuff from FA.
Yeah I've just been using Pastest as well. At this point in my learning, Pastest seems plenty good for assessing my knowledge, and I still learn a lot from the explanations. I do find that Pastest's questions range wildly from very broad, easy questions to quite specific minutiae which aren't in FA or other review books but overall it's a solid product and free (though I can't figure out why).
 

Oh_Gee

5+ Year Member
Nov 15, 2013
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Yeah I've just been using Pastest as well. At this point in my learning, Pastest seems plenty good for assessing my knowledge, and I still learn a lot from the explanations. I do find that Pastest's questions range wildly from very broad, easy questions to quite specific minutiae which aren't in FA or other review books but overall it's a solid product and free (though I can't figure out why).
i google the minutiae they have and sometimes i can't even find what they're talking about...
 
May 11, 2016
278
397
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Medical Student
Hey if anyone wants a Boards & Beyond discount code, PM me. (no strings attached, not a referral link that will get me anything)
 
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