Chris’s Corner: Back to School
The dog days of summer have passed and cool weather is beginning to take its place across most of the United States. The leaves are beginning to change colors. College football is on television. For most, fall is a wonderful time of year; but for those of us who have recently completed our clinical cardiology fellowship, fall means something else—the boards are quickly approaching.
Whether you’re a seasoned cardiologist recertifying for the third time, a new graduate from a fellowship program trying to build a clinical practice, or a fellow who feels like an intern trying to figure out a new subspecialty, finding time to review the ECG features of a secondum atrial septal defect is challenging. For those of us who have to pull out our copy of Braunwald’s to figure out that the ECG is characterized by a right axis deviation and an incomplete right bundle branch block, all hope is not lost. Luckily, there are many resources available to help squeeze some review time into our busy day.
Everyone has their own strategy for studying for the boards, and your friends and colleagues are more than happy to tell you how they did it. Some watch board review videos over and over again; others read every ECG in O’Keefe’s book three times over, continually frustrated that they failed to code that long QT with a duration of 450 msec yet again. Others promise you that they studied very little, and that you would definitely pass. Their significant other, however, quickly points out that they ate McDonald’s in their office every night for 3 months before the test while whining incessantly that there was no way they were going to pass.
As I have tried to figure out my own strategy for studying, I keep coming back to CardioSource. The institution where I did my general cardiology fellowship provided access to CardioSource Plus for Institutions. This website concentrates multiple resources into a single site and provides everyone at that institution with access. In addition to the regular resources on CardioSource, such as access to all of the JACC journals and guidelines, CardioSource Plus for Institutions has additional resources tailored to those of us facing upcoming board examinations—everyone from internal medicine residents getting ready for their general cardiology fellowship to those who have maintained busy clinical practices for years.
The ACC Self-Assessment Program 8 (ACCSAP 8) was released recently, and many of the sections are already on the CardioSource Plus website. The sheer volume of the material will likely preclude you from reading all of the books cover-to-cover but key learning points are bulleted for easy review. The best feature of ACCSAP: the review questions at the end of section, which help you quickly figure out what you do (or don’t) know. Once you get through with all of that, you can work through the test section that contains around 50 board review style questions. For those cardiologists who need maintenance of certification points, nine modules are available to help complete all of the requirements. Similar resources are also available for people taking the Interventional Boards (CathSAP) or the echo boards (EchoSAP). Although geared toward board review, ACCSAP, CathSAP, and EchoSAP are also great educational resources for fellows-in-training learning some of the intricacies of subspeciality cardiology.
On-demand meetings are another high-yield resource. Aside from topics such as peripheral vascular disease and women’s health, the general cardiology and interventional cardiology board review courses from 2010 are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So whether you’re an early riser up at 4 AM or a night owl up past 1 AM, the videos are always there to remind you how much you still have to learn. The concise, up-to-date lectures provide a great review of the important topics in cardiology, and even those who are not recertifying can benefit from them. You can even download them as a podcast and put them on your iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Suddenly your daily commute or time at the gym can be transformed into productive study time.
So, the next time you need to look up the latest guidelines, refresh your knowledge on the classification of diastolic dysfunction, or want to watch a board review course, it would do well to consider CardioSource Plus.
Matt Cavender, MD, is a cardiology fellow with the TIMI Study Group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is enrolled in the MPH program at the Harvard School of Public Health. Following his fellowship, he will be completing an advanced fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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