by Adam Rosh, MD
This story begins with a casual discussion at the 2017 PAEA Education Forum in Denver, CO between a faculty member of a large PA program in the Pacific Northwest who runs her program’s didactic curriculum and myself, Rosh Review’s founder and CEO.
Didactic Year Director: “What if there was a Didactic Qbank for our students like the one we use to prepare for the PANCE?”
Adam Rosh: “What would that look like?”
Didactic Year Director: “It would contain hundreds to thousands of questions focused on the foundational topics of PA school, such as anatomy, pathogenesis, pathophysiology, epidemiology, microbiology, diagnostic studies and labs, pharmacotherapeutics, treatment plans, patient education, and health maintenance and prevention.”
Adam Rosh: “What type of explanations should it have?”
Didactic Year Director: “Since there is so much content during first year, explanations should include a comprehensive overview of the disease or condition and go in-depth on the most important aspects that students should know. After reading each explanation, the student should have a much deeper understanding of the topic.
Adam Rosh: “So we want to provide rich content that manages complexity and delivers simplicity so students build a solid foundation, tame the whirlwind of first year, and are prepared to excel starting day one of second year?”
Didactic Year Director: “Exactly. And it means my faculty can stop spending time writing questions. Can it be done?”
Adam Rosh: “Yes!”
Fast forward a year and a half to the present: the first Qbank dedicated to didactic education is now live! And it exceeds our wildest expectations!
We are so excited that we want to share this news with all first year PA students. The Didactic Qbank was created with the following goals:
Help First Year PA Students Build a Foundation
The material taught in first year is so critical to understand because it builds your foundation for clinical year and, ultimately, the decisions you’ll make when caring for patients. For example, when you decide what medication to prescribe to your patient as a certified PA, you may have memorized some of the side effects. But that is not enough. You need to understand the implications of those side effects so that you can react, if necessary. Knowing that a patient whose skin turns red while receiving vancomycin simply needs the infusion slowed down or paused for a while, rather than discontinuing it indefinitely because some individuals may think it is an allergy (it’s not), can be the difference between a delayed treatment and a cured patient. Looking back on my years as an emergency physician, the greatest investment I’ve made in the care of my patients was a complete dedication to learning as much medicine as possible during my medical school. I believed that building a strong foundation would make a difference when managing difficult patient cases. A strong foundation also allowed me to lead a career in education. To be a teacher of aspiring students, it is important to know foundational medicine, the correlations between conditions, and the cause and effects of interventions. All of this starts on day one of PA school. Start now.
Tame the Whirlwind of First Year of PA School
Going from undergraduate college to PA school is daunting. It is life in the fast lane. The amount of material you are expected to digest in one year of PA school is equivalent to many years of undergraduate work. There is no doubt you will be operating out of your comfort zone. Most students adapt and go on to succeed, but some struggle. One of the most important tips to being successful in PA school is to identify your study plan early. It is okay to try a few different techniques, but you want to find the one that works for you, sooner rather than later. A technique that worked extremely well for me was to attend lectures, go home and review my notes, and then spend 30 to 60 minutes doing practice questions related to the content I just reviewed. This technique reinforces what you just learned, and more importantly, helps to identify what you don’t know. I refer to this technique as identifying your unknown unknowns in an article about studying for the PANCE (save this for when you begin your PANCE prep!). It looks something like this.
Whatever system you choose, adding a Qbank with high-quality content is one of the most effective learning methods and one of the proven ways to promote long-term memory. This is often referred to as the testing effect or retrieval practice. This process of retrieving makes the information more retrievable later. Compared to simply studying by looking over your notes, if you practice retrieval, you’re more likely to remember the information later, and also more likely to apply the information correctly in new situations. And being able to apply large amounts of information later is not only going to make you an excellent clinician, but it also leads us to the next goal.
Ace Your Subject Exams
Since you’ve worked so hard to get accepted to PA school, you don’t want to just struggle your way through it–make the most of it instead! How well you do is up to you, and the better you perform, the more likely you will be to have great opportunities throughout your program and when you start looking for your first job (it’s not that far away!). So hit the ground running. Everything we’ve discussed so far is critical for your professional career, but what you also need to do is to ace your subject exams now. The didactic Qbank takes the most commonly asked subject exam questions and provides comprehensive explanations that touch on every important aspect of that topic. It’s like having a living textbook. Each explanation in the Didactic Qbank will address the following areas for every topic:
- Risk factors
- History and physical
- Differential diagnosis
- Diagnostic studies
- Treatment plan
- Patient education
- Health maintenance
The Didactic Qbank also covers every core content area taught in PA school including:
- Cardiovascular system
- Dermatologic system
- Endocrine system
- Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
- Gastrointestinal system and Nutrition
- Hematologic system
- Infectious diseases
- Musculoskeletal system
- Neurologic system
- Psychiatry and Behavioral science
- Pulmonary system
- Renal system
- Reproductive system
The key ingredient to assuring you are building a knowledge library that is going to serve you well throughout your career is how good the content is your are learning from. Be careful about using a review book which may present content in a superficial way with limited context. This may lead to an illusion of knowing. After you review content from a review book, you may easily recall it while reading the review book. But if you change settings or ask a question in a slightly different way, you will often not be able to translate what you previously read into a correct answer. It is therefore beneficial to learn with the appropriate context so that you are doing more than memorizing material–you are learning and understanding it so you can recall it and build associations from it. The Didactic Qbank is built on this foundation – addressing every topic in a comprehensive way so you are learning rather than regurgitating. Here is the basic framework of a Didactic Qbank comprehensive explanation:
Are you are a visual learner?
Some people find an advantage to reviewing teaching images that simplify the complexity of a topic into easy-to-understand nuggets. I certainly did. As a medical student, I often found myself creating images as I was learning new material. Whenever there was a difficult question on an exam, I found myself picturing the image in my mind and often this is just the edge I needed to answer a difficult question correctly. This favorite study technique has also made its way into the Rosh Didactic Qbank. Here are some examples:
The Didactic Qbank is truly unique and only offered by Rosh Review. It took almost two years to assemble the team, build the curriculum, create and edit the content, and design the associated custom teaching images.
We believe the Didactic Qbank will have a 10X impact on your PA school performance. Would you not want that?
See for yourself.
Try the Didactic Qbank for free. Let us know what you think. If you love it (we know you will : >), get in touch and see if your school’s director will offer it to your entire class. Or, if you want to bring a group of friends together for a group package, let us know.