Family Medicine (and THIRD YEAR) is finished - - - such a good feeling!
The shelf exam was alright. The questions are really broad and varied; I'm glad to have scheduled family medicine as my last clerkship of third year. Classically, it is the most failed shelf due to how broad the information is - the shelf would be pretty difficult if it was your very first clerkship of third year. But as it was my final clerkship, I felt quite prepared and confident in how I did. I ended up with an above-average score (and let's just leave it at that).
Family Medicine is incredibly broad and it is difficult to predict which questions will be asked on the shelf. I was at an advantage, taking this clerkship last, but I don't think it would have been horrible to have taken it earlier. I personally felt like IM was more a bit more difficult. To prepare for the exam, I:
- Followed, managed, and learned from a variety of patients - including those with diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Stroke Syndrome, Pregnancy, Well-Visits, Cellulitis, Musculoskeletal Injuries, Back Pain, Psych Disorders, Dementia, CHF, COPD, Surgical Clearance, etc etc etc etc etc
- Used Uptodate to learn more about each of my patient's diseases and treatment plans.
- We had lecture for a few hours during the course of the clerkship, which were somewhat (but not really) useful.
- Read Family Medicine Case Files. It's a quick and easy read, honestly. And helpful to prepare for all of those "what is the next appropriate step" questions that are asked.
- Read over the Ambulatory Medicine section in my Step Up to Medicine textbook.
- Read bits and pieces of Step Up to Step 2 to review previous clerkship info (like surgery, ob-gyn, peds, psych, neuro).
- Completed about 500 of UWorld's Step2 IM questions - which were really helpful to broaden my base of studies.
- Completed all but 125 questions from USMLE Easy's Step2 Family Medicine's Question Bank.
My final takeaway on how to best prepare for the shelf exams during third year:
- Have a quick review book (like Case Files) stuffed in your white coat pocket, and read over it whenever you have some down time.
- No matter how busy you are (and you will be busy), always make time to read at least an hour each day.
- Do questions every day. This is the part of studying which I dislike most, and I'm not nearly as faithful at completing the questions as I would like to be, but I did notice that once I started to use the QBanks more frequently, my shelf scores (and confidence) improved significantly.
- Take on a variety of patients, even if it makes you uncomfortable. The single best way to learn is through experience.
- Keep your Iphone or Ipad on you at all times, with a QBank open, UpToDate logged in, and the Epocrates app ready.