No, I’m not talking about the “dark web” or anything controversial. I’m talking about something that is much more subtle and potentially devastating to your board review strategies – the allure of more interesting things you will encounter while looking up answers you need.
I treat looking up a fact I need while studying for the boards like going into a dark alley. I increase my alertness, look around for what I came for, grab it, and get out quick. Before the tracking pixels can suck me into the Game of Thrones T- shirt site I was looking at yesterday, or the news about my latest sports team sneaks on to my screen as a pop-up. I have what I need, and I’m gone like a specter.
Not only are the random distractions, shopping, news, and other fascinations of life possible distractions, but so are other types of academic and clinical material. After all, you went into medicine because you were interested in it. There is a lot to learn and a lot to know, and the more you connect the dots, the more fun it is. But when you’re studying for your board exam, you need to come down and focus on the things that are most relevant for the test rather than exploring new fields.
Random internet searches will often yield relevant information from specialty groups, if you can sort it out from the trash. Using Google Scholar or Pub Med are good ways to get studies on a topic. By searching for review articles or meta-analyses, and reading the abstract, you can often learn efficiently.
Other sites I like are:
- Up-To-Date – Highly relevant, requires paid subscription, and often too in-depth. Nonetheless, extremely accurate and current.
- The 5 Minute Clinical Consult – You can buy the text and also an online, searchable version that is updated regularly
- Wikipedia – Good for many standard medicine topics, highly curated, but requires judgement to discern what is accurate and up-to-the-minute, as they prefer meta-analyses over recent breakthroughs
It requires skill and practice to efficiently use these study resources – but skill and practice are required to be a good physician as well!
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