The Medical School Headquarters and BoardVitals are going to help you prepare for your first board exam with questions, pearls of information, and guidance to make sure you have what it takes to score high and match into your specialty of choice!
Board Rounds is a podcast for medical students as they prepare for Step 1 or Level 1 of the USMLE or COMLEX exams. Please follow us along with all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.
BoardVitals is an amazing test prep company that helps medical students and almost everybody in health care with their exams. Whether it’s the Shelf Exam while you’re doing rotations or your clinical years, or even later on as a physician studying for your boards, BoardVitals has got something that will help you every step of the way!
Today, we’re joined by Dr. Andrea Paul and learn all about her journey and all about BoardVitals.
[02:00] About Dr. Paul and BoardVitals
A physician by training, Andrea took the Internal Medicine route and transitioned to Pathology residency until she decided to pursue her business idea before proceeding with her clinical training. Hence, the birth of BoardVitals, which she has been running since 2013.
What got her into the field of medicine was having family influence having family members who are doctors. Following the traditional path, she enjoyed science and realized she loved learning and being involved in the education component more than the practice of medicine.
[03:10] Her Thought Process in Jumping on the Education Route
In residency, Andrea realized that the way people were studying and learning was inefficient and really low tech. She thought it was crazy and that she had to figure out a way to put content into a material that’s more accessible and that it can be used wider than just one residency program. This was when the idea was born, starting with some medical specialties and working backward. Then they ended up focusing on all the medical student exams.
Over the last five years, BoardVitals is now in 60 different all professional and medical exam areas covering everything from surgical tech, radiology tech, and nursing, all the way through to medical students, pharmacy students, and nursing students. Plus, the various medical subspecialties as well as some of the dental and podiatry areas.'Once we had a good platform and system, we realized that you just need to insert the content into that same learning system and it really works for every different area.'Click To Tweet
[05:35] What Correlates to a Good Score
Andrea explains that what correlates to a great score is to spend a number of questions that people take — simulated exam questions with good, detailed explanations.
Textbooks, lectures, or other things didn’t move the meter as far as getting into that top core area but the number of questions that people did really made the difference. This then became their sole area of focus. They have questions along with detailed, informative explanations for each question.
[06:45] Finding People to Write Their Questions
The company has over 400 physicians, nurses, etc. across all areas that are creating their content. They look for people who have recently taken the exam or those involved in academics teaching students to prepare for a specific test. It’s an expensive series of review afterwards. The initial writers go through medical editing and copyediting. Then, the get some feedback about any updates or changes that recently came out submitted right to their editors, who respond within two business days.
[08:40] Medical Students Preparing for the Boards
Andrea points out that Step 1 is so high stake and so important that they would recommend people to start using it as soon as they start medical school. The great thing about their platform is that they’re questions. You’re getting immediate feedback so you could see your areas of strength and weakness right of the getgo. So if you continue to use those, as they questions change and evolve over time, you can definitely see how your strengths and weaknesses improve and position yourself to get a really high score.'There's no reason that you shouldn't be continually self-assessing.'Click To Tweet
[10:15] Students Who Are Auditory in Their Learning Style
Andrea explains that learning can be broken down into active and passive. Passive learning involves things like audio prep, reading, and things where you’re absorbing and taking in without having to provide any kind of active engagement or response.
What they’ve found with the audio material, in general, is that people’s attention waxes and wanes. Hence, if you’re doing audio, listen to it more than once. Repetition is key because there may be times you could miss something so when you go back and listen again, hopefully, you catch it the second or third time around.
Something that requires an active amount of active learning is effectiveness since you don’t have that opportunity to zone out.'Combining those depending on what works for your individual learning style is really important.'Click To Tweet
[11:40] The Future of BoardVitals
Andrea says her company is continuing to expand. Currently, they’re covering most of the medical specialty areas and they could see themselves expanding. Now that they have an active learning component, they’re looking to go after some other passive components of doing things like audio and video materials that will help you as well. Part of that is this podcast covering Step 1 and Level 1.'Step 1 or Level 1 is such an important part of your residency journey.'Click To Tweet
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