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As you begin your family medicine residency, you may be wondering what the path from intern year to board exam looks like. We overview the family medicine residency pathway in this post. 

Family Medicine Intern Year

The first half of your family medicine intern year will seem eerily similar to med school—like drinking from a fire hose. Absorb as much as you can, and learn from your upper levels to build a foundation to lean on for the remainder of residency.

Boards are far away at this point, and you’ll want to focus on thriving as a resident. Most family medicine residencies have an ITE (in-training exam) in October, but don’t sweat this one because its purpose is to gauge your knowledge thus far. 

Second Half of Intern Year 

Figure out the “chill” months (usually you’ll find some time on out-patient months) to devise a study plan.

Start with AAFP—a great, free resource with ample multiple choice questions that emulate the ITE and board exam questions. Knock out a few sets here and there but don’t fret over it too much. Focus on finishing your intern year strong. 

Family Medicine Post-Graduate Year Two

Now you’re an upper level resident. The ITE in October actually means something, as you’ll want to score high enough for the Bayesian score predictor to pass you.

Increase the number of AAFP questions to at least a set per week. Mark the ones you struggle with, and soon you’ll have a strong sense of your strengths and weaknesses.

For additional study materials, have a look at our post overviewing family medicine board study resources!

If you know you’re an anxious exam taker, if you’re unsure of what to study, or if you just want some tips, feel free to reach out to me through Med School Tutors, as I’m always happy to chat with and help students. I’m fairly fresh out of residency and remember the struggle quite clearly. 

Family Medicine PGY 3

Register for the ABFM exam: registration begins July 15, 2021 for the board exam in December. This is for students graduating early or if your fellowship application requires a passing score.

However, for traditional residents set to graduate in the summer, registration for boards starts December 3, 2021 for the April 2022 board exam. Once you register and pick a date (this is very important because slots disappear fast), start your study plan.

A Sample Family Medicine Boards Study Plan:

August - October: Continue the AAFP board review questions and remember to mark the ones you struggle with.

October: Take your final ITE of residency.

November - December: Complete the AAFP; you should be doing ten to 15 questions daily at this point.

January - February:  Go through your missed/marked AAFP questions and work on your weaknesses to turn them into strengths (my weaknesses were endocrine and infectious diseases). 

March - April: Review your past ITEs and read through the full explanations, as these contain very useful information. Familiarize yourself with the USPSTF A and B graded recommendations—from cancer screening to vaccines. Get hyped! You’re one obstacle away from finishing residency. You’ve worked hard, and you’re ready to go ace the ABFM board exam.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Dr. Mike Ren

Dr. Mike Ren

Mike is a driven tutor and supportive advisor. He is fresh out of residency from Baylor College of Medicine and will join as faculty this fall. His goal in mentorship is to help you achieve your full potential not only in terms of excellent exam scores, but also with respect to acing interviews at top-tier programs. He holds the belief that you learn best from those close to you in training. Dr. Ren is passionate about tutoring and has taught for much of his life – as an SAT tutor in high school, then he taught MCAT for the Princeton Review during his time at SMU and transitioned to an instructor for the family medicine shelf exam at Baylor College of Medicine and the Family medicine in-training and board exams as Chief Resident at Baylor. For years, he has worked closely with the office of student affairs and has experience as an admissions advisor. Dr. Ren has worked with numerous students entering medical and residency and keeps in touch with many of them today as they embark on their road to aspiring physicians. His supportiveness and approachability put his students at ease and provide a safe learning environment where questions and conversation flow. In terms of exam prep, Mike will help you develop critical reasoning skills and as an advisor he will hone your interview skills with insider knowledge to commonly asked admissions questions.
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