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Which FA subjects to supplement?

Discussion in 'Step I' started by C6789, Jun 29, 2009.

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  1. C6789

    C6789 2+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    From what I've heard, FA is pretty much all you need in some subjects (Embryology), but needs to be supplemented for others (Path). Aside from this, for which subjects is FA not enough? A lot of the MS2s at my school are trying to get rid of their review books and I was looking to pick some up at a good price.

    I did a search, and all I found was a post from 2004 where someone suggested that every subject needed additional resources. So, sorry if this has been answered already. I was looking for some more up-to-date advice.

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  3. PBandJ

    PBandJ hot dog back in action! Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Just as a general note, you will probably find that if you buy review books, you'll really only end up having time to use a few of them. Many review books go into a lot of detail, and if you only have 3-4 days dedicated to covering each subject, it's too much to try to get through. So start with First Aid + Goljan RR Path + a question source (UWorld or QBank) and work from there.

    Path: You definitely need to supplement path. Goljan RR Path actually covers a lot of basic biochem, mol bio, and even micro throughout the book, so you may cover most of your bases with RR Path + FA.

    Micro: The micro section of First Aid is a bit sparse in some areas, so if you want to review in a little more detail, Clinical Micro made ridiculously simple is good. But FA Micro is long enough as it is, so make sure you get through that first.

    Pharm: FA has one dedicated section and then the rest is organized throughout the book by systems, with most drugs the important few key points (e.g. MOA, side effects, etc.). If you want a bit more detail, Pharmacology Recall (Lippincott) is a good book. However, most people say that First Aid pharm + USMLE World questions on pharm is sufficient. Note: pharm and micro integration is really important.

    Physio: For some reason, this is covered pretty well in the GI section of First Aid but not much elsewhere. Consider supplementing with BRS Physio. It's an easy read and you can do it all at once or integrated into each system.

    Anatomy: Anatomy is pretty weak in First Aid, and the musculoskeletal section is tough to get through. However, it's not a super high-yield topic for boards by itself. Most of the important anatomy is in integrations, which pop up in Goljan RR Path or as needed in FA. I bought Road Map Anatomy but only used it to look up a few pictures when I couldn't find them in FA.

    Embryo: FA is sufficient for Embryo.

    Neuro / Psych: FA is ok for neuro & psych too. I had already read BRS Behavioral Science for our shelf exam, and that filled in any gaps in Behavioral Science / Psych for me.

    FYI, this is all based on my own experience, what I've read on these forums, and advice I got from upperclassmen at my school. I'm sure others may have different opinions.
  4. C6789

    C6789 2+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    Thank you for the advice :)
  5. TMP-SMX

    TMP-SMX Senior Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2006
    CMMRS is great for Micro. I loved BRS Pharm and BRS Path. FA is also a must to use with your courses. I also thought that BRS Behavioral Science was pretty decent.
  6. Currantjelly

    Currantjelly 2+ Year Member

    May 2, 2009
    Too many people are caught in resource this, resource that. My opinion is that it is better to master a few sources than to have way too many sources that you will never fully get through or fully comprehend. I will say this, the only sources you need to score well are UW, Goljan audio, and First Aid. I did read Micro made simple, and I thought it was a good read. I read it only because I never learned micro well and needed some help there. But, if you've had a good background in that subject, it's hardly necessary. Everything they mention is in First Aid.

    Regarding Goljan, his book is a disaster. And coming from Dr. Goljan and the way he talks about poorly written texts, I found his book really dissapointing. When reading his book you will read a subject and start on a new subject and then a table or chart regarding the subject you already completed will be presented. So you have to do a mental flashback to that past subject and by the time you go over that chart you've forgotten what you've just read. This repeats over and over in the book. His audio is 10000000x better than the book. The audio with the transcripts is truly beautiful. If I had to pay $500 for Goljan's audio I'd do it. The problem with most people that put down or disregard Goljan's lectures is the fact that what he's saying blows right over their heads. The first pass through Goljan's audio I didn't even catch 25% of the stuff he was saying. Even on my 4th pass through his audio I was hearing things for the first time. The way he describes the pathogenesis of disease will make you wonder why your professors never explained it in that fashion.

    Anyways, in summary, focus on complete mastery of USMLE World, Goljan, and FA. You will achieve your goals on the boards, I promise. USMLE World is to be used as a learning tool by the way, not an assessment tool. That means you read every single answer explanation and understand why everything is incorrect or correct, and then annotate that into FA. Your assessment tools are the NBME exams and UW self assessments.
  7. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant 5+ Year Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    I think BRS Physio is a great book and its a quick read (you can do it in as few as 2-3 days I'd say).

    I thought that FA biochemistry sucked FYI - MedEssentials looked much better (but that was after the fact for me unfortunately). Id suggest checking it out and seeing if its sufficient for you. My biochem background was pretty weak, so I did the Kaplan lecture notes + DVDs for that (which IMO was great!)

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