Preparing for Board (Re)Certification-in Bite-Size Pieces

November 9, 2010

Every year thousands of physicians must take-and pass-an examination to become board certified in internal or family medicine. Thousands more must pass a board recertification examination to maintain their license to practice medicine- and similar exams are required of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. To pass a certification or recertification examination requires up-to-date and in-depth knowledge in at least a dozen areas of clinical medicine.

Every year thousands of physicians must take-and pass-an examination to become board certified in internal or family medicine. Thousands more must pass a board recertification examination to maintain their license to practice medicine- and similar exams are required of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. To pass a certification or recertification examination requires up-to-date and in-depth knowledge in at least a dozen areas of clinical medicine.

We at CONSULTANT are keenly aware that preparing for these tests is a prime concern for many of our readers. Thus, we would like to take this opportunity to make you aware of the unique way in which our "What's The 'Take Home'?" feature can help.

"What's The 'Take Home'?"- which presents the relevant details about a specific clinical case and then challenges you to choose the most appropriate "next step" in diagnosis or treatment-has been a popular feature since it first appeared in these pages in 1998. The cases are carefully selected so that each has an important teaching point, or "take-home" message. In addition to the in-depth discussion of the rationale for the correct answer, this "take-home" message is succinctly summarized and boxed for maximum visibility.

What you may not know is that the series editor of "What's The 'Take Home'?" Dr Ronald Rubin, chairs the board preparatory course offered at the American College of Physicians annual convention. As professor of internal medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and chief of clinical hematology at Temple University Hospital, Dr Rubin has broad clinical experience. The cases he uses in "What's The 'Take Home'?" are drawn from this experience-but just like those in his board prep course, they are presented in a manner similar to that used in the American Board of Internal Medicine recertification examination.

In addition, the cases selected reflect content likely to be encountered on the exam. In fact, the proportion of cases drawn from the various areas of clinical medicine (infectious diseases, cardiology, endocrinology, etc) mirrors the breakdown found on the actual exam. Dr Rubin also selects and writes his material with an eye toward helping you identify your particular areas of strength and weakness.

As you read this month's case-of a 60-year-old man with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura who requires splenectomy-on page 483, we hope you will have a deepened appreciation of what you "take home" from it. You can find more cases on our Web site at www.consultantlive.com/whats-the-take-home.

--The Editors