Here at MST, we’re always keeping our eyes peeled for new and helpful resources that will aid students preparing for their USMLE and Shelf exams. In fact, we’ve established an entire committee to test these resources and identify those that are worthwhile. (We also sniff out the fly-by-night useless resources and swiftly kick them to the curb.) One that we reviewed recently really had what it took to receive a ringing endorsement from our staff. Enter… Online MedEd.
What kind of study resource is it?
Online MedEd is a comprehensive learning program that has benefit for medical students at any level of their training, though it’s geared a bit more towards 3rd and 4th year clerkship students as well as Step 2 takers. On top of that, it offers “Intern Content,” which helpful for both 4th year sub-interns and first year residents alike.
The core of the material is a well-produced video series starring Dustyn Williams, an internal medicine hospitalist who trained at Tulane.
The real value in the Online MedEd program is Dr. Williams’s teaching. While passive learning methods such as videos aren’t the best fit for everyone, he steps outside some of the dated, classical teaching paradigms and replaces them with more clinically useful schemas that just make sense. For example, in explaining the juxtaglomerular apparatus as it pertains to the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, Dr. Williams draws the JG apparatus as a switch which responds to tubular flow. This simple idea (which I’ve employed in my own teaching) can really help students remember and retain how the relationship works. (you can watch the video here.) At their best, they can completely change the way you think about particular disease states and physiology.
On top of the brilliant videos, there is a question bank with over 1200 multiple choice USMLE-style questions. While this resource certainly can’t supplant UWorld as your primary question bank, it could certainly be a useful addendum to UWorld and your NBMEs. Online MedEd also offers printable guides for certain pathologies as well as 2000+ flash cards.
What kind of med students is it for?
Online MedEd bills itself as a 3rd and 4th year medical school curriculum.
It’s definitely more useful to upperclassmen compared to 1st and 2nd year students, who already receive full-on day-to-day lectures. Step 2 doesn’t have a review book that functions as a silver bullet resource the way First Aid does for Step 1. While Online MedEd is not a review book, it’s definitely a fantastic supplement to UWorld (and a review book of your choice) while preparing for Step 2.
The Intern Content section is packed with incredible value, and will teach you how to “think like an intern.”
This is a skill you should start to develop as a 4th year student, and hopefully perfect early in your intern year. Even as a PGY-2, I have learned interesting ways of thinking about a few of the pathologies covered in the videos, and used the concepts and analogies for teaching as well.
Even if you don’t decide to make Online MedEd a major part of your study plan, you can watch some of the videos to clear up concepts that are still shaky or alien to you. Perhaps you never really felt comfortable about the causes of pulmonary hypertension. Or maybe you know you will be caring for a GI bleeder this week and need to firm up your management plans. The program is organized well enough to make it simple to learn about a singular concept.
Anything else worth knowing about Online MedEd?
Most of the top-notch material you get from Online MedEd is free. The system runs as a freemium, giving away most of the material and charging a premium for the question bank and flashcards. Ergo, you have nothing to lose by giving some of the videos a shot! Maybe you’ll find that you love Dr. Williams’s teaching style and want to sign up for the full package. Or perhaps you don’t gel well and decide it’s not for you. Either way, I believe this resource will have at least some value to you, and at a price of $0, it’s worth checking out.
Can I use these videos to study for USMLE Step 3?
The Intern Content videos are applicable to intern-level work, and can definitely help you with Step 3 preparations. Just remember not to enter the dense forest of Step 3 prep without using UWorld as your machete. With that in mind, it’s always nice to employ a non-clinical/non-question bank resource. Time is short in the life of an intern when it comes to Step 3 prep, so squeezing out some of these videos on a slow call shift/night float is certainly within reason – but don’t expect the series to stand in for the pain of completing as many Uworld questions as possible.
Online MedEd is a useful freemium resource driven by high-quality, easy to follow videos, alongside a 1200+ question bank. It will definitely provide value as a supplement to UWorld for students in their 3rd and 4th years as well as interns. Good luck!