So I’m writing this blog while taking a break from the 2014 CAP Annual Meeting (I hate high heels and my feet are killing me from standing by my poster). As a resident, one of the most enjoyable parts of every conference that I attend is meeting and speaking with other residents. It’s even better if the conference planners organize specific events, networking receptions, or a resident lounge where residents can meet and socialize with each other and other trainees and pathologists. The CAP Annual Meeting is always good in terms of providing residents such outlets.
The best part for me is hearing stories of other resident experiences different than my own in addition to making new friends and colleagues. So my next couple blog posts will be about some of the topics that came up as the most important from the residents I spoke with: boards preparation, the fellowship application process, and networking/engagement opportunities for residents.
So, in terms of the boards, two themes seemed to emerge. First, many felt that the Resident-In-Service-Exam (RISE) does not correlate well with what we need to know to prepare for boards. For instance, this example was given to me: a decent percentage of questions on the RISE focused on forensics while most had heard that the boards have very questions dealing with forensics. My opinion on this topic is that it depends on what your expectations are concerning the RISE. If you are hoping that the breakdown of the RISE is a simulation of the boards in mini-form, then you might be disappointed. But if you like to advocate change for a different focus for the RISE, then I’d encourage you to bring your concerns to the RISE committee at email@example.com and provide a cogent argument for your views…my motto is always, “you never know, the worse that they can say is no, so it’s better to try.” It certainly is not irrational to want our in-service exam to reflect what we need to know most for the boards and for real-world practice so let the RISE committee know.
Secondly, the topic came up of what is tested on the boards in terms of breakdown. I also wondered the same thing since I need to prepare chemistry and molecular pathology podcasts for for ASCP’s Lab Medicine Podcast Series and had no clue what would be high-yield topics that I could focus on (if you have a specific topic or test in these areas that you’d like a podcast on, please feel free to let email me and I’ll try my best).
So, I asked someone I know at the American Board of Pathology (ABP) about this issue. She directed me to the APCP Exam Blueprints which outlines the overall breakdown of number of questions in specific topic areas on the most recent board exam. I’ve also been told that they will post category codes for the various exams (ie – something like a “table of contents”) to the ABP website soon.
Looking at the blueprints, I have a better idea of some of the board topic areas that I will need to concentrate on (although there is nothing listed for molecular pathology but maybe there isn’t that much yet on the boards or it’s included within other AP/CP areas like soft tissue or hematology). And apparently, this is much more info than has been previously provided. But again, if you want a more detailed breakdown or other information that you can’t find on the ABP website, I also encourage you to communicate your concerns to Dr. Rebecca Johnson, the CEO of the ABP. Remember, positive change only occurs if there is a stimulus for change, and that stimulus can be you! As attendings, we need to be pro-active in questioning and changing the status quo for the better, so why not start practicing or acquiring those skills while a resident.
-Betty Chung, DO, MPH, MA is a third year resident physician at Rutgers – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.