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Oral boards: the Ho course

Discussion in 'Anesthesiology' started by Yo GabbaPentin, Dec 28, 2012.

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  1. Yo GabbaPentin

    Yo GabbaPentin 5+ Year Member

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    To those of you out there who will be taking the oral boards in April who are starting to think about preparing for the big exam, I just wanted to give some advice.

    Please save yourself weeks of vacation and missed paychecks, as well as thousands of dollars in course fees. I read the book which I really believe was a massive waste of time. The guy appears to make all of his money off of fear and intimidation of his peers which is appauling. You can DEFINITELY pass without all of that nonsense.

    True story: I know four people who have taken the course. Of those four people, three have FAILED.

    Not that the course makes you fail obviously, but it just appears that it is not very helpful. Everyone have a happy New Years and hopefully I can lead a few of you towards a decision to save some serious time and money. Spend that money instead on a dozen bottles of Dom Perignon.
     
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  3. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    20 percent of people FAIL the orals.
     
  4. excalibur

    excalibur Member 10+ Year Member

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    Agree and disagree with Yo Gabba Pentin. I took the Ho course, and I did not feel it was a complete waste of time. I took it found it incredibly helpful. I would even state that it is a major reason why I passed. Remember that is how I viewed it. The main reason it helped me pass was that it prepared me very quickly on what to expect and the methods of answering questions. It also demonstrated which were my weak areas, and I noticed which commonly asked case scenarios were my weak points. So I recommend it. Also please note that my hospital paid for it, so that was a plus.

    I agree with Yo Gabba that Ho uses an intimidation factor which I feel isn't necessary. Also, I agree that there is a sense that I got from him that making money was of the utmost important. He constantly pushed for his other courses to take when you leave, and he sent emails two weeks before exam trying to get us to sign up for courses in San Diego the week of the test. He also stated that for the week of my scheduled review course, if anyone wanted to schedule some extra mock orals with him while they were there, they were free to do so...for $100. Wow! $100 for 30 minutes of you just being mean in your questioning. Appalling is right. Just ask a colleague to do one with you for free. Even better you likely have former attendings who are ORAL BOARD EXAMINERS who most likely will do mock orals for you for free. Hmmm...non oral board examiner giving me unrealistic aggressive exam for $100 or a free mock oral from a real examiner?

    I also agree that many could pass without the course or without the NONSENSE as Yo
    Gabba puts it. Remember that 80% of people pass. Many of those 80% do not take a course. Ho knows that most people pass regardless of study method. He also knows that the candidates are extremely anxious, nervous, apprehnsive for this once a year test, and are willing to shell out cash for review courses, so he pounces on that fear as yogabba pointed out.

    Also, I know 10 people who took the Ho course. They all PASSED. Don't view that as people who take the course will pass. Remember 80% of people pass regardless. I know several who passed without a review course. It's variable.

    In summary it was great for me, because when it came to these tests, review courses always helped me, and I like having an instructor. That has always helped me. I maybe could have passed without the course. I don't know. I agree that the test can be passed without the course. It is not absolutely necessary. You just need to know the type of person you are. If you don't have to pay for the course, then you are only giving up a week of vacation time for a lot of detailed information regarding the oral exam. For an exam with so much riding on it that you can only take once a year, I felt the free review course was well worth it.
     
  5. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    I agree with excalibur and dis agree with yo gabba

    remember Dr. Ho is providing a service that the programs are NOT. The programs are miserably poor at preparing one for the orals. And for the writtens for that matter. Ho is by far the best prep. There is too much at stake if you dont pass, so you want to be as prepared as possible..

    The mock orals that the programs give are useless and worthless. You dont get better by doing a mock oral with some douche (oral bd examiner) who has not been in the OR in years. You get better by doing oral boards and being critiqued to the nth degree multiple multiple times as in 20 must know cases by Dr. HO.
    We are in the United States. Ho invented the course to make money. I don't b egrudge him at all for what he does and how he does it. Why? Because his service has tremendous value. And he doesnt instill FEAR.. the board does. He is not the one failing 20 percent of people.
     
  6. IlDestriero

    IlDestriero Ether Man 7+ Year Member

    Is it that time if year again?
    I didn't take a course, but I practiced a bit with a bunch of douches. I work with them as well. Weird that we're all in the OR together? What do the real examiners know about passing the test anyway?
    Anyhow, I'm of the "you don't need a course" school of thought. You do have to practice though, so if you're not disciplined enough to arrange practice tests, put together a review plan for all the high probability topics, or you're a bit scatter brained and not even remotely logical and linear in your oral answers (seen it), a course might be right for you. 80% pass, most don't take a course.
    If you want to be grilled and have you're answers shredded for fun, just ask the practice examiner to be a douche. Why would you pay to have someone be a jackhole during your practice exam? You'll probably pass anyway. 80% do every year. Spend the money on some good whisky, a couple decent books and don't give in to the paranoia.
     
  7. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    In fairness, most who are weak candidates know it and migrate towards the courses. Given that info, I would be surprised if Ho's course participants were as high as the 80% average. Most who are the best candidates and know it, stay away from the courses. So, Ho's course is probably populated with the lower 50% from the ITE's, people who failed the first time, and those who lack confidence or are very poor at public speaking.
    It would not surprise me if Ho's participant's pass rate is well below the national average for first time takers. It would seem the odds are stacked against any course to meet the national average for passing. I don't have any stats to back it up, I just know that when I took Jensen's course for the orals, I felt like one of the smartest people in the room because it was a room 75% full of underachievers. No offense intended. I was only a middle of the road achiever.
     
  8. excalibur

    excalibur Member 10+ Year Member

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    Gern is probably right here. Most of Ho's students are likely those applicants who feel they are a little on the weaker side and need help. Gern may be right that the average passing rate of the Ho students may be less than national average, maybe 60-70% as compared to 80%, BUT...

    what would be the average passing rate of the Ho students if they had NOT taken the review course? I feel that the Ho course and review courses in general do attract the borderline candidates more as Gern mentioned. But I do feel that its these candidates who get the most out of it.

    If you are a rockstar ITE taker, easily passed the writtens, and fair well in mock orals, then you probably don't need a review course and may feel like you wasted your time if you attended one. If you feel you are a borderline candidate, then the review course may be the thing that gets you over the hump.
     
  9. HalO'Thane

    HalO'Thane New Member 10+ Year Member

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    I took the course, enjoyed it, and passed on the first attempt. Did I need it? Maybe not. My personal feeling was that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking his course. Yes, its expensive, but there are also huge costs to failing the oral boards. Many practices pay you extra for board certification. You only get three attempts to pass or else you have to repeat some of your training. Plus, as the new guy in your group it looks really bad if you don't pass and you need additional time to study and re-take it. I felt like I had a solid fund of knowledge after passing the writtens but I was in no way prepared to take the orals. I felt like Ho's textbook was valuable and I liked the way that he helped me organize my thoughts during his course. Nothing will guarantee your passing the orals. You still have to study on your own and practice as much as possible, not just with oral board examiners but fellow test takers if possible. There are much worse rackets out there in our medical training than the Ho Course: Step 2 B, Step 3, MOCA...I can go on and on. At least with signing up for his course I had a choice in the matter and I felt like I came out a better practitioner.
     
  10. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    Not everybody works in the academic environment and not everybody ( even being in a good residency program) has a chance to have enough mock orals to be prepared for the real one. remember, you take your mocks during the residency and your knowledge base is totally different from the one when you actually have to take the Big one - therefore those residency mocks are useless or of a very little help at best. Programs do not care if you pass the orals, they only care about the writtens and all the prep is directed toward the written part, because they are judged on a written passing score not a certification score.

    I have no idea where the "intimidation by Ho" comes from - if you know the material there is nothing intimidating, the course only wraps the process for you. having some additional mock orals before the real exam helps a lot.

    Of course if you have the ability to practice with real life examiners - that is much cheaper ))))
    But not everybody has that luxury and if he/she can use the other possibilities - there is no need to intimidate them for doing that.
    There are other courses as well, BTW
     
  11. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    I disagree. The data evaluated by the ACGME site reviewer includes all data, even the oral board pass rate.
     
  12. gtb

    gtb Member 10+ Year Member

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    I second HalO'Thane. Last year I took the last-minute, 4-day cram course before orals in April. Did I need it? Who knows. I passed, so I'll never know. I was in a fellowship at the time, and had plenty of practice with experienced attendings. But, having known a very knowledgeable attending at UW who failed their first time, and another skilled colleague who failed their first time, I wanted to do everything possible to guarantee a first-time pass. The tuition is less than a weeks take home pay, plus travel costs of course. I also paid for extra mock orals each of the four days, and that practice with complete strangers helped boost my confidence, and also desensitized me to the stress of strangers examining me. Don't underestimate the weirdness of getting examined by people you've never encountered before. Plus, I genuinely learned a fair amount from the didactic lectures. After reading the numerous posts from those who failed the orals, like HalO'Thane, I too was thinking, "what have I got to lose?" If you want more info, just message me.
     
  13. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    I can honestly say that Michael Ho was probably one of the most prepared and organized teachers I have ever had in my life. The guy works tirelessly in preparing his course and it changes from year to year. He changes information as new information comes available. As someone said, there are worse rackets out there, thats for sure. Where was he when I was taking calculus and physics with those professors who were foreign born and had helacious accents.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  14. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    .......
     
  15. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     
  16. ssmallz

    ssmallz California Dreamin 7+ Year Member

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    I took the ho course as well and would highly recommend it. It helps you prepare for the game of the orals and gets you familiar with common scenarios. Does he teach you anything earth shattering? No but the course certainly teaches you how to think your way through common problems. Watching him nit pick other people helps you make your answers more concrete. He may be a bit overaggressive at times but I think it helps and I defiantly prefer training like that to someone who is passive and nice. I thought the book was good b/c the layout was great for studying for the orals. The fact portion may be a bit stale but the Q&A section was very helpful.

    I thought the must know cases course was ok....good for repetition and speaking clearly, not so good if you're trying to learn. Getting grilled by other course takers is not the same as going through the orals w/a real examiner. That being said, more practice is always a good thing.

    It's seems there's a lot of hate for the guys prices? Not sure why, he's no more expensive than other test preps, Kaplan courses for USMLEs and MCATs are expensive and dude is a boarded anesthesiologist. Rates seem reasonable, especially compared to what else is out there
     
  17. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    It is nowhere to be seen while you look at the residency programs during application and all they talk during your residency time and all the training is directed toward written part only.
    At least it is my own experience.

    I do not work in the academic practice and I might have a different angle of perception than the faculty member, obviously.

    But my point is that there are much more fresh graduates which do not have the luxury of practice with real world board examiners so there is no need of intimidating them if they want to spend their money on the Ho course.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  18. Dwindlin

    Dwindlin ASA Member 7+ Year Member

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    You're status says attending so I'm assuming you are at least 4 years removed from residency application. I think it is very different now than it was even 4 years ago. Thus far every place I have been to has given both written and oral pass rates, and have been very up front about changes being made to their didactics to account for the updated ABA exams that my cohort will have to take (part 1 and 2 written, and likely the addition of OSCE type exam to the orals).
     
  19. pgg

    pgg Laugh at me, will they? SDN Moderator 10+ Year Member

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    I took Ho's course. Even allowing for the public setting and pressure of performing in front of 50 people, most of the people who took Ho exams in front of his class had some glaring knowledge gaps and really wacky judgment. It definitely wasn't a cross section of average anesthesiologists.
     
  20. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Every year, each program receives an update on their graduates who are certified or not certified over the past 5 years (really more like 6 or 7 years because the data is delayed since it is sometimes a year and a half before the resident is certified, even if they pass everything the first time). This data is part of what is looked at for ACGME site reviews to examine trends in the program and identify areas of weakness that need to be addressed. This is not really new, but it is always provided. May not always be shared with other members of the department since it contains private and sensitive information. It is much easier to share with the department if it is 100% than if it is 60%.
    A separate document is sent out to tell you which of your program's alums sat for the written exam at the last cycle and whether they passed or failed. As explained in another thread, it is relatively simple to find out who passed the orals on their first try and who did not by checking the ABA website to see if their status changed, since you know what their written exam status is.
     
  21. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Definitely true. In addition, often times, the attendees do not have English as their first language. That is a huge hurdle. I cannot imagine trying to take an oral exam in a language that is not my first language.
     
  22. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    Once again, the board pass rates should not even be looked at. Should not even come into play in the equation when looking for programs. I NEVER had any didactics. NEVER. My program was in shambles.All the faculty were foreign who were scared of their shadow. I passed first shot. and the orals too. And i took Michael Ho's course. I would hate a program with didactics; listening to some douche talk about stuff i can look up. And having to get up extra early at that. Most of those places gives you quizzes and ****. LOL. WHat am i in grade school? You want to know something else. I took the in training exam only once. Im NOT a smart person. I just was motivated to do it.

    I had no problem l istening to michael ho because he is a superstar when it comes down to preparing for the orals. He is NO SLOUCH.
     
  23. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    OK, then it is different.
     
  24. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    If you NEVER had didactics at your program how do you know it is all the douches talking about stuff?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  25. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    no formal didactics. They attempted stuff here and there but it never worked.
     
  26. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    Repeating the question - if you NEVER had any formal didactics, how do you know that it is provided by douches?

    P.S. Formal logic is lacking as well ;)
     
  27. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Congratulations, I guess?!? Your approach is certainly one option. I suspect that the informed readers of this forum will be able to decide how much emphasis should be placed on this particular approach.
     
  28. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Just re-read your post. In a funny way, it seems that you are recommending your program as a model program, ie, what others should be looking for. Is that correct?
     
  29. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    Because I know douches and I can envision them giving lectures and I can envision how painful that would be. Especially 45 mins earlier than usual without coffee. Oh another thing. I think youre a douche!!!!!!!!
     
  30. hoyden

    hoyden 10+ Year Member

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    somehow I tend to suspect the above senior member with 103 posts has not had any approach and has not been in any program...yet

    programs with no didactics tend to have a lot of polishing ability. here we are observing a raw diamond with it's perfect ragged edges typical of the premed era of their carrier :laugh:
     
  31. bala1

    bala1 Banned

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    THat was a douchy remark typical of a douche like yoruself :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:
     
  32. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    If you plan to stay around and contribute on the forum, junior high put downs such as the above remarks are not considered the best way to make your contributions carry weight. Carry on.
     
  33. Consigliere

    Consigliere 7+ Year Member

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    Neither here nor there
    :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     
  34. Yo GabbaPentin

    Yo GabbaPentin 5+ Year Member

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    My MAIN point is that his review course is by no means necessary to pass. Answering the question of "what do you have to lose?".... Well, a sh!tload of time and money is the answer. It wouldn't be worth it to me for a course that really doesn't improve my chances and maybe gives a tiny increase in confidence.

    There is a huge luck factor involved in examiners. I really believe that mine would not be invited back if the aba were to evaluate their "style" during my second stem. So in closing I would recommend PRACTICE one on one and a whole pile of rabbits feet/four leaf clovers/horseshoes/etc.

    Materials: ultimate board prep, a text reference and if you have the $$ then that Skype company that does mocks... Forgot the name of it. Good luck and may the force be with you.
     
  35. gasgasgas

    gasgasgas 7+ Year Member

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    Speaking of oral boards, does anyone know when we will be notified of which session we got?
     
  36. lushmd

    lushmd Member 10+ Year Member

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    The e-mail with this info was sent 1-2 wks ago. Check your junk mail folder, several people I know missed the e-mail at first because it landed there.
     
  37. gasgasgas

    gasgasgas 7+ Year Member

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    I just checked and the email is blank but the subject has Spring 2013. Is everyone else's email blank or just mine? I guess they will email out the exact date when it gets closer? Time to start practicing my skillz!!
     
  38. pie944

    pie944 ASA Member 7+ Year Member

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    Mine was blank too. You get another email in a couple of months prior to the exam giving you an exact date, etc.
     
  39. CambieMD

    CambieMD cambiemd 10+ Year Member

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    Most people will pass the orals on their first attempt with a small amount of effort. Others will need to work a little harder. Then there are those who will have to work extremely hard to pass the orals. There are various reasons why some people have to work harder to clear the orals.

    A weekend or even a week with Michael Ho will not make up difficulties in fluency,content,depth and presentation. The orals are a speaking exam. Sitting in a large hall and watching some poor guy make a fool out of himself has liitle utility.

    I took the Ho course twice. There was a guy doing mocks with me at the Ho course who was extremely well spoken. His answers were polished and presented in a very professional fashion. This fellow ,I think he was from Geoge Washington ,was wasting his time. I was also wasting my time. I needed to better understand the purpose of the exam and what was expected of me.

    The ABA is looking for reasonable diplomats. Your answers have to reasonable. Your judgement must be sound. Your answers do not have to be brilliant. You are not expected to know everything. You will not fail the orals because you miss one question.

    Preparation for the orals should begin at the beginning of residency.Developing the habit of communicating well about your cases and fully understanding the anesthetic implications of what is going on with your patients will go a long way.

    Encourage your patients to ask you questions. This will give you the opportunity to return CRISP answers.

    I will break CRISP down

    C= Complete
    R= Reasonable(would you actually do this in the OR)
    I = Intelligent
    S= Supported by discussion(why)
    P = Professional( deliver your answer in a professional manner)
    I sat down and came up with this after I bombed the orals a few years ago. I determined why I failed and set out to fix my speaking problems. The process has made me a much better public speaker. I use this in many settings.

    There are a number of issues that may make someone a weak candidate. Figure out how strong or weak you are and determine if something must be rectified.

    Most of you out there will pass the orals with no difficulty. You will leave the exam thinking that you failed but you will pass.

    If you have failed the orals more than once I suggest intense pracice and maybe a review course. I would not suggest Ho. The author of Board Stiff III offers a review course. The class size is smaller but it cost more than Ho. No, I did not take this course but the premise of it is good. You need to learn how to speak anesthesia.

    I have a lot posts discussing the orals on this forum.

    The orals serve a great purpose. I hope that they do not go away. The experience forced me to grow.

    Happy New Year,

    Cambie
     
  40. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Ho's course was small at one time as well. It was also excellent. As he has grown in popularity, I would imagine it to be difficult to retain the personal feel it had many years ago. I have a lot of respect for him as a teacher and still think his course is good for those who need a review course.
     
  41. Gern Blansten

    Gern Blansten Account on Hold 10+ Year Member

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    Very nice. You have been a great resource for many on this forum over the years. You seem to be an outstanding and caring person. I commend you for that.
     
  42. leaverus

    leaverus New Member 10+ Year Member

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    Nowhere in particular
    not an email. you should get an official notice in the mail indicating exact date and time as well as which hotel. if i remember correctly, it usually gets sent out around this time, maybe late january.
     
  43. pgg

    pgg Laugh at me, will they? SDN Moderator 10+ Year Member

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    New account signed up to necrobump an old thread and shill this review course. :mad: Closing.
     

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