Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NBDE I = Good Times: Vol 1

I promised to address the first national board exam in a sort of log-esque fashion so that is what I am attempting to do. In all honesty, it seems passing this test is not that hard if you simply get the ‘Dental Decks’ and review them twice over. As I have mentioned time and time again, I have no idea if I will end up specializing or not. There is no dynasty waiting for me after I graduate, so the path I choose will be my own making. I currently plan on that path leading to general dentistry – but the only specialty I have been exposed to in school is periodontics. So the bottom line is that I don’t currently plan to specialize, BUT – I do not wish to burn the bridge while I am here. So in other words, I would like to do well in school and on this hopelessly pointless standardized test.

For those unaware, the National Board Dental Exam I (NBDE) is the first major hurdle for dental students to pass that is not run by their own school. The test encompasses all of the basic sciences that students should have taken before entering the clinics. Anatomical Sciences (anatomy/histology), Microbiology/Path, Biochem/Physio, and Dental Anatomy/Occlusion are the four major areas. The test used to be divided strictly into these four sections with 100 question batteries. In the last year (maybe 2) they changed the format. There are still 400 questions total, but now they are mixed up and there is no definitive ‘anatomy section’ which I feel makes the test more difficult. Not going to complain though, the questions are still the same in will just be tougher to jump from topic to topic. One MUST pass this test to continue with their dental education. One MUST do VERY well on this test to specialize. Like the DAT, it is the only way to ‘level’ the playing field of post-doc applicants. But this is going to change in the 2010. The NBDE is being changed to pass/fail which will render it worthless for post-doc applications. Specialties will probably end up creating their own standardized test for potential anyone interested in specializing will have to prepare for ANOTHER giant exam during their third year. Nothing is written in stone yet, but I am quite glad to be in the old format still.

Here at UIC, we are eligible to take the exam from August of our D-2 year, until the following January. I believe you aren’t technically supposed to get your own patients until it is passed. We are given no extra time off outside of our break between semesters so the only logical time I can find to take this test is between summer and fall, or fall and spring (we get 2 weeks). I think I will enjoy my fall semester loads more with this monster out of the way so I am aiming for a mid-August test date (August 14th to be exact). I envy the schools that get the first summer off. Granted, we have gotten a whopping 5 Friday afternoons off for ‘board review’ this semester, but that really isn’t enough. Not even close.

I started looking at the dental decks in mid-may, and I hope to be completely through them in the next week. These cards seem to be the best study tool I have purchased thus far with the exception of practice exams.

Review material:
Dental Decks
Mosby’s Review
First Aid
Kaplan: Dent Essentials
Released exams
Class notes and books

While I began some light reading at the end of my D-1 year, I really didn’t hit the books regularly and with scheduled time frames until mid-may.

The routine so far has been to bounce between various topics in the dental decks. I tried using the text books at first, but realized that this is a bit inefficient given how much info we have to get through. I now use all the review books as simple references or to clarify topics I am extremely weak in (ahem..bacteriology and virology).

For those unaware, the dental decks are a series of flash cards (about 1300) that cover all the major sections of the NBDE. The front side of each card has a multiple choice question. The back side has the answer along with an often lengthy explanation that covers everything the card was attempting to convey. So getting through these cards takes some time if you read the backs which I am doing. I will go through the decks again as well (but will only read the backs if I get the question wrong).

Once I roll through them the first time, I plan on doing a ton of practice exams to just get a better idea of timing and adapting my brain (and ass) to sitting for long sums of time doing question after question. The real challenge is working all of this into my schedule while maintaining some vestiges of sanity. It is, after all, the middle of the summer, and I can think of MANY things I would much rather be doing.

So that is all for now..speaking of decks…

Acromegaly is a chronic metabolic disorder of adults caused by an excessive amount of:
-Thyroid hormone
-Growth hormone
-Parathyroid hormone

(Easy enough right? None of the questions are ‘hard’ is simply the volume of information tested on that makes things tricky.)

Off I go.