Category Archives: MEDICAL EXAMS

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Free CME Online-Continuing Medical Education

Free CME Online

Free online CME courses are usually sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or device manufacturers. In our listings, we try to identify the sponsoring organization or any affiliation the CME providers may have. As you would imaging, these courses usually deal with the specific pharmaceutical or medical device industry sold by the sponsoring company, but does not specifically identify brands. These courses generally meet the qualifying standards for Category 1 CME courses and therefore qualify for medical CME credits.

PRA Category 1 free online continuing medical education courses are offered by PRIME which are categorized into specialty practice and are augmented with free monthly case studies for physicians. Many of these meet relicensure requirements and are provided free without commercial support. Another major provider of free CME online courses is Medscape. These courses often take the form of “reports” and “highlights” from major medical meetings. The programs are generally of high quality and qualify for Category 1 CME credits. A wide variety of medical specialties (everything fromInternal Medicine CME to Psychiatry CME and Surgery CME) are covered.

There are also a small number of free CME courses provided by medical schools and training hospitals that can be accessed from anywhere. More often, though, CME courses provided by these institutions cost about $25/credit hour. For example, Harvard provides several online CME courses and charges between $20 and $50 per credit hour.

Free CME Course Lists

MedPix: Category 1 CME for physicians and CE for nursing professionals from the Uniformed Services University. One hour of category 1 CME credit is awarded for every 4 “case of the week” completed and after filling out an online survey.

Free Ultrasound CME – this is a catalog of online courses provided by GE and Siemens

Johns Hopkins CME – Hopkins provides online CME courses in a wide range of specialties. Each course is reviewed regularly.

CME courses – the Netdoc database is one of the most comprehensive and easily searched databases of both online CME courses and live or mail CME.

Emergency medicine CME – LLSA: The emergency medicine specialty has shifted to the Lifelong Learning Self Assessment (LLSA) model of recertification. This resource provides links to the LLSA reading list and requirements.

Medicine Board Review – Board review options including courses that offer Category 1 CME credits.

Please note, the editors of have not reviewed the listed CME courses for completeness or accuracy.

The essential guide to studying medicine at university

Congratulations! You’re going to be a doctor. You will put your hands in places you never thought possible or legal. But first there’s a little learning to be done. A medical degree is an often brilliant and occasionally terrifying experience.

Yes, you will become a hypochondriac. In the first term you will diagnose yourself with cancer and tropical sprue. But If I can get through it, so can you. Here is what I wish I’d known in those first few weeks.

Don’t be Hermione Granger and buy all the books

It is pointless spending £100 on that laminated encyclopedia of functional histology. It will become a doorstop. Massive expensive books are what libraries are for. Spend your student loan on something better, like a hangover. Do get a library card though, those places are open 24 hours and have amazing wifi.

Medicine is a foreign language

Don’t expect to be fluent from day one, the best you can hope for is knowing how to ask for directions. Doctors like to speak in mumbled acronyms and Victorian surgeons’ surnames. But they can do English too. So if you don’t know what something means, ask. All the other clever looking medical students around you will be extremely pleased you did.

Don’t worry too much about the gore

Some medical schools still use cadavers to teach anatomy. The formaldehyde will make you smell of death. But it is the best way to learn, and you will get used to it. I skipped the odd dissection class and it took days of pouring over textbooks to come close to getting the same knowledge. Try to be there even if it makes you feel a bit queasy.

If it’s all making sense you are doing it wrong

The learning curve is the steepest at the very start, so do not be surprised if you are overwhelmed. Everyone is, some are just better at faking it than others.

Don’t pretend you’re a doctor

You are a medical student, not a junior doctor. You will have plenty of time to be terrified by the responsibility once you qualify. Enjoy your access all areas pass to hospitals. If you’re feeling lost, find the special dark den where radiologists live. It’s calm and quiet, and you can pester them for extra x-ray teaching.

Remember that people who are ill are still people

They are not just lung cancer, appendicitis, or schizophrenia. They are exactly like you. It is often only luck and blind chance that is the difference.

Treat nurses with the utmost respect

A wise registrar told me when I first qualified that it would be years before I know more than someone who has worked on the wards for 30 years. Nurses will save you, feed you, and teach you what it really means to work in the NHS. Our healthcare service could not survive without its nursing staff. Show them the respect they deserve.

Get to know people who are studying something else

Medics are lovely, engaging, obsessive, type A personality know it alls, and sometimes you need a break from intense all night discussions about the phrenic nerve.

Do something that isn’t medicine

Your course will get more and more intense as the years go by. Whether you play ultimate frisbee or chess boxing, find something you can pick up and put down that totally distracts you and is completely different from your degree.

Have fun

Study hard, but not too hard. University is about learning all the things, but it is wasted if you don’t enjoy yourself. Good luck! You’ll be great.

USMLE Step 1 Practice Questions – Why They Are So Important

The United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE, is an essential test that determines whether a candidate is fit to begin practicing medicine in America. The first part of this exam, also known as the USMLE Step 1, determines whether a candidate is capable of applying the essential science and medical knowledge needed to the practice of medicine. In order to pass this part of the exam, it helps to first study some USMLE Step 1 practice questions.

The Array of Practice Questions

There are only a few different organizations that offer practice questions for the USMLE, but the high number of different questions is extremely helpful. When you access the practice questions, you will typically have up to 2,000 different options. Having literally thousands of different questions available means that you won’t get overwhelmed when you face the questions in real time. They also give you a feel for the type of questions you can expect to deal with. That means that you won’t have to worry about being caught off-guard by the format of the test. The USMLE does tend to overwhelm many new candidates, so getting used to the challenges ahead of time gives you an immediate leg up.

Preparing for Difficult Questions

Even if you spend some time preparing for the USMLE Step 1, the sheer complexity of the questions might throw you off when you try the exam in a live setting. Going through a large variety of different practice questions gives you a good feel for the level of difficulty you will be facing. While these practice arrays are not the same as the questions the actual exam has, they are of similar complexity and difficulty. This allows people who are taking the USMLE to react more calmly to the surprising level of challenge that the test presents. Just as you don’t want to go into a difficult medical procedures without being prepared, so too should you avoid going into the USMLE without proper readiness.

Familiarizing Participants with the Software

Almost any individuals such as those who are training to become doctors can get thrown for a loop due to unfamiliarity with certain software. The USMLE uses a specific brand of software to administer the test that many people have never seen before in their lives. Fortunately, those who take some practice questions ahead of time have a leg up compared to everybody else. The practice questions are administered using the same software that the real test uses. That means that if you have any moments where you find the visual layout or the software confusing, you will encounter that problem during practice. The more kinks you work out ahead of time, the smoother the test will go.

Taking the USMLE Step 1 is the first step on a path to a long and successful medical career. In order to make sure that you start down that path in the right way, trying some practice questions ahead of time is a huge benefit.

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What It Takes To Succeed In A Medical Assistant Training Program

While it is true that you may only need an associate’s degree to become a medical assistant, there are many other factors that comprise the official certification process. Fulfilling the prerequisites to enter a medical assistant training program is a tough process in and of itself.

Where To Start

To succeed as a med assistant, you must first fully understand the major exam needed to pass the program. To be accepted into any program, you must first pass a qualified training program. The tests are given through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Proper training is needed to pass these requirements, and that is not including the major test one takes to become certified. Passing these exams can only come from official schooling at an accredited program through a traditional or online setting.

Once you attend a school, receive proper medical assistant training, and believe you are eligible to take the exam, you have to sign up for your test through the American Association of Medical Assistants. When signing up for a date, you will create a username and be asked to print a scheduling permit, which you’ll need on the day of the test. Remember that the date you choose is set in stone and your payment is non-refundable. Only sign up when you are prepared and have all your requirements intact.

What Exactly Is On The Exam?

The exam will be testing your ability in various subjects, including anatomy and physiology, office management, and general office procedure. Questions on the exam will ask you about bookkeeping, insurance processing, phlebotomy, patient examination, diagnostic testing, terminology, pharmacology, and anything else along the lines of what you have studied and learned. While they are testing your knowledge about science and medicine, they are also testing your ability to work in a professional environment. That means you must excel at basic functions like writing, grammar, emailing, faxing, and other attributes that keep a doctor’s office organized.

What it all comes down to is the final exam. It is important to prepare and take practice tests. It does not have to be nerve-wracking or scary if you set enough time and establish what it takes. A higher score will reward you with higher salaries and better job opportunities, so take it seriously, study hard, and find yourself a great program.

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Best USMLE Books

1. First Aid for the USMLE Step 1:

I don’t know how they do it, but the First Aid people have an unbelievable ability to know exactly what is important to the people who write board questions.  First Aid is reprinted each year. I suggest buying one copy early in med school and study from it while you study for your other classes. Then, purchase the new copy when you are studying for Step 1.  First Aid is not sufficient for Step 1, but it should be required reading for all students as it highlights the stuff that you absolutely must know. Some students also recommend Kaplan’s MedEssentials for the USMLE Step 1 Top Ten Books for the USMLE Step 1  Continue reading

The goal of this column is to provide you with the resources you need to excel in medical school. For more clinical resources, visit Emily Cooper’s blog, Med-Source, which she maintains as a “one-stop guide” for med students.

I was planning to expound upon pathology this month, but having just completed Step 1 of the boards (formally known as the US Medical Licensing Exam or USMLE), it seemed appropriate that I share the pearls that I gleaned while the material was still somewhat fresh in my mind. I studied for just over 5 weeks, which felt like just the right amount of time. Any shorter and I would not have been fully prepared, any longer and I would have started to forget what I learned at the beginning.

From the outset, I would highly recommend creating a study schedule in which you cover all of the material in First Aid during the first 3 1/2 to 4 weeks, doing at least 50 questions each night and then only reviewing questions during the last week.

The highest-yield online sites for the Boards are the question banks. Although pricey, the questions provide the best way to assess your progress and, next to First Aid, were my most valuable study resource.

  1.  Kaplan Qbank still serves as the industry standard. Your subscription provides access to more than 2000 questions that can be sorted by both discipline and organ system. A 1-month subscription costs $199, a 3-month subscription costs $279, and a 6-month subscription costs $499 (discounts may be available through your medical school). This program allows you to customize tests with your unused and/or incorrect questions, so that you can focus on your weaker areas. Although the interface is not identical to the real exam, it is close enough that the real exam will not feel foreign. Kaplan’s other strong points are their explanations for the answers. After completing a test, make sure to read the full answers, as a lot of information is packed into explaining why certain choices are incorrect.


  2.  USMLE World is the steadily growing upstart rival to Kaplan. They have now amassed more than 2000 questions as well, making this q-bank capable of standing on its own as a review source. The format is identical to the FRED format that you will see on the real thing. As with Kaplan, you can track your performance. I found the questions to be slightly more representative of the real exam than the Kaplan questions, but the explanations were not as thorough.


  3.  Practice exams provided by the National Board of Medical Examiners also come highly recommended and are available for $45 each. Other students who have used these exams say that they are the most representative of the real exam, with form 1 being the easiest and form 3 the most difficult.


  4.  When you register for Step 1, you get access to practice content. The 3 blocks of content are easier than the real exam, but they are a good confidence booster and are worth running through if only to know that you have covered the “official” material. The Kaplan Qbank subscription also comes with a .pdf file of explanations (an answer key without explanations comes with the content).


  5.  Also, be sure to check out resources offered by your school. At the University of Pennsylvania, we have access to USMLEasy, which provides online question banks for all of the step exams. If you don’t have free access, you can check out sample quizzes on Medscape and learn more about the Step 1 q-bank.

    The volume of print material available to prep for the boards is virtually limitless. Fortunately, First Aid — along with upperclassmen — should help you wade through and select the most valuable choices. Below, I listed the top 1 or 2 choices that my colleagues and I chose for each subject. It may be useful to go to your medical bookstore and look through the major series (High Yield, BRS, and Rapid Review) to decide which style works best for you. Also, First Aid has extensive reviews of the subject-based review books in the last section.

  1.  First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2008 (Le T, Bhushan V, Rao DA): Treat this book as your Boards bible. Learn it, love it, know it. Take all of your notes in this book so that when you review at the end, you only have to go back to 1 book.


  2.  Biochemistry: Focus on the key enzymes and clinical consequences. Any one of the following will suffice:
    •  Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry (Champe PC, Harvey RA, Ferrier DR);


    •  BRS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Swanson TA, Kim SI, Glucksman MJ);


    •  High-Yield Biochemistry (Wilcox B).




  3.  Pharmacology: Focus only on those drugs mentioned in First Aid and master the general pharmacology chapter. I used only the flashcards and felt that they were more than adequate.
    •  Pharmacology Flashcards (Barron) — One side has a clinical vignette and the other has all the key information on the drug;


    •  Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology (Howland RD, Mycek MJ, Harvey RA, et al);


    •  Appleton & Lange Review of Pharmacology (Krzanowski JJ).




  4.  Microbiology: Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple (Gladwin M, Trattler B)


  5.  Immunology: High-Yield Immunology (Johnson AG) or Medical Microbiology and Immunology (Immunology section only) (Levinson WE)


  6.  Pathology: BRS Pathology (Schneider AS, Szanto PA, Kim SI, et al)


  7.  Physiology: BRS Physiology (Costanzo LS)


  8.  Anatomy: High-Yield Gross Anatomy (Dudek RW, Louis TM)


  9.  Embryology: High-Yield Embryology (Dudek RW) or BRS Embryology (Dudek RW)


  10.  Neuroanatomy: High-Yield Neuroanatomy (Fix JD) or Clinical Neuroanatomy Made Ridiculously Simple (Goldberg S)


  11.  Behavioral Science: High-Yield Behavioral Science (Fadem B)


  12.  Histology: High-Yield Histology (Dudek RW)


 As indicated above, First Aid is the quintessential source for Boards review. Take all of your notes in this book, writing in it as you go over your q-bank answers.

  1.  During your review days at the end, go back and reread your annotated copy.



  2.  Do questions! Each night after studying, answer at least 50 questions on what you studied that day. Towards the end of your studying, complete blocks of 50 random questions to better simulate the real exam.


  3.  Know the basic pharmacology chapter. The concept of epinephrine reversal will be on your Boards.


  4.  Study with a friend. You may or may not want to actually study out loud, but at the very least you should have someone you meet everyday and sit with to help get you through. Five weeks is a long time to sit in a room by yourself.


  5.  Sleep, eat, exercise, go out. Your life doesn’t need to stop because you are studying. If you get going before 10 am, you should be done by 8 pm with time to chill out.


 One last thought: you will be fine. If you feel
overwhelmed, channel that energy into doing an extra block of questions rather than freaking out about the exam. Everyone panics a little at some point, but panicking is not productive. Doing questions is. Good luck!

Author of ‘USMLE Step 1 Made Ridiculously Simple’ Gives Tips

it also is the most important one for your future career. The score you will receive, together with the letters of recommendation from your 3rd and 4th year rotations will determine what kind of Residency you will end up in, and this will have major impact on your future. So please, take this exam very very seriously. If you are a US medical student, most of you will pass this exam, but it is incredibly important to achieve the best score you are capable of.

If you are on top of your class, most likely you will also be on top on the USMLE. If you are at the bottom of your class, most likely you will struggle with the USMLE, but there is nothing that could prevent you from also achieving a top score. So here are some tricks and tricks from my own experience with the USMLE:

The USMLE is quite unlike the exams you are used to. In med school, professors sometimes try to “trick” you into false answers. Not so on the USMLE. The USMLE questions are all professionally written, and there are no tricks. If a question appears too simple, don’t attempt to “second-guess” it, or search for a trap – there is none, it is simply an easy question. The USMLE is a mix of very basic questions, difficult questions, and some extremely difficult questions (designed to distinguish between the top 5% performers). So don’t get frustrated if you come across incredibly difficult items, just mark your best guess and move on. Everyone is in the same boat…

I went to medical school in Germany and then took the USMLE in the US more than 10 years later (when I had forgotten all my anatomy and biochemistry from long-ago 😉 There were two things that helped me achieve a top-score, and I am very passionate about these: First, find a study partner. The perfect size for a study group is exactly 2 people, cause it means you are constantly engaged. It is not important whether you are of similar skill and knowledge or not. You will be amazed how much you learn, when you are forced to explain topics to someone.

Second, practice multiple choice questions. Do as many as you possibly can. Around 100 per day sounds about right, but if you can’t do 100, then do 50 and if you can’t do 50, do 10. Put a book with questions right next to your bed, and do your 10 questions before you get up in the mornings, then contemplate your mistakes while you are brushing your teeth. Seriously. Start today!
There are many collections of multiple choice questions available. One of the best, but also expensive one, is Kaplan Qbank. I myself actually prefer book questions, cause I like to mark my text, underline things, cross out wrong things, flag all the questions I got wrong so I can easily review them later. Maybe I am old-fashioned – if you prefer to sit in front of computer screens, then use online Qbanks. Just make sure to WORK with the questions.

Don’t use them to assess your knowledge! Be happy if you get practice questions wrong, cause it means you learned something. Make yourself a list of all your mistakes, then review this list just the day before the exam. Believe me, my own list of mistakes was a couple dozen pages long (SMILE), but at least I knew that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes on exam day!
It is much better to study 2 hour every day for the next 60 days, then trying to study 12 hours a day in just the last week before the exam. Nobody will ever ask you about your Pathology or Pharmacology grades you got in med school (but make sure you pass…). Make the USMLE your top priority. Now!

There are many review books available for the USMLE. Much of it is a matter of taste and your own learning style. I myself (surprise, surprise) like my own “USMLE Made Ridiculously Simple” charts, cause I find them very efficient for memorization. If you need more explanations, use “First Aid for the USMLE Step 1”, this is the most popular of the comprehensive reviews and very good.
Good Luck!

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