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Don’t Fall off the Shelf: Balancing Shelf Exam Study with Third Year Rotations

Nick Lunig and Dr. Brian Radvansky contributed to this post.

I started my third year with my surgery rotation. While I knew it was going to be time consuming, I was excited to interact with patients, work in the hospital, and never have to think about glycolysis again (which isn’t entirely true, but that’s a topic for another time). I knew I had a shelf exam at the end of the rotation, but at that point it was so far away and I was more concerned with succeeding on the wards.  I would cross that bridge when I came to it.  

While I enjoyed my surgery rotation, the time commitment was as intensive as I had expected – and then some. It got to the point when I came home for the day, I was barely able to greet my roommates, cook myself dinner and change out of my scrubs (which was probably the hardest part, because scrubs are basically doctor pajamas.) The thought of doing any studying was laughable. It didn’t help that I would tell myself I actually WAS studying because of what I saw every day. When the exam was one week away, I finally started to actually study... and quickly came to a tough realization of how woefully underprepared I was.

Know Thy Shelf: OB/GYN High-Yield Tips & A 6-Week Study Plan
Med School Tutors by Med School Tutors on Jul 8, 2019 in SHELF

This post was written by Dr. Brian Radvansky and Michael Stephens.

It is with great pleasure and mild sorrow that we give to you the final installment of the Know Thy Shelf series, covering the much beloved OB/GYN shelf exam. No matter which facet of medicine you are interested in, OB/GYN is a fantastic rotation that will afford you a wide breadth of opportunities. You will scrub into the OR, interview women (and families) about sensitive health issues, and flex your patient education muscles on everything from STIs to the miracles of life. Then, of course, you will take a scintillating shelf exam to close things out.

The OB/GYN shelf is a comprehensive test of all matters related to obstetric and gynecologic medicine, and as a result, it covers a large breadth of material. 

High-Yield OB/GYN Shelf Exam Study Material

Here are decades of knowledge distilled down to a single blog post to get you through the test as smoothly as a fetus through the birth canal, along with a week-by-week OB/GYN Shelf study guide to get you through the six week study period.

4 Reasons Shelf Exams Matter
Ryan Kelsch by Ryan Kelsch on Apr 23, 2019 in Shelf Exams, SHELF, Med School

If you are in your third or fourth year of medical school, you're deep in the excitement of core rotations ... and shelf exams. We know you're tired and longing for a little more sleep, so to help you stay motivated, here are four great reasons why shelf exams will help you on journey to becoming a doctor.

1. Shelf exams matter for your clerkship grade.

Reasoning Through Multi-Step USMLE & Shelf Exam Questions
USMLE and Shelf exam questions that involve two or three steps can be challenging. They often require reading a convoluted clinical anecdote before reasoning through several steps to arrive at the correct answer choice. While these questions may seem daunting, you can utilize a consistent approach that will simplify the process of answering these difficult questions.

Step 1: Break it Down

Know Thy Shelf: Pediatrics
Brian Radvansky by Brian Radvansky on Oct 17, 2016 in SHELF

Your pediatric rotation is different from all others. Unless you’re going into the field, it’s the only one where your patients are all children, a population that presents its own particular set of challenges. You will encounter ultra-concerned parents who won’t want medical students to touch their precious child with a 10-foot pole. You will accidentally strike fear into the hearts of 3-year olds, despite your best efforts to be fun-loving and non-threatening. The rotation is hard enough as it is, and then the NBME throws a shelf at you. How unkind! Like your first cadaver, let’s dissect this exam and see what tips and tricks we can use to focus our efforts.

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