Home » A Quick User’s Guide to Pathoma for USMLE Step 1

A Quick User’s Guide to Pathoma for USMLE Step 1

Someone on laptop using Pathoma for USMLE Step 1


How many times have you tried to read and re-read that cardiac physiology chapter? What’s the deal with those pressure/flow diagrams anyway? What about the kidney? Ah! No! not the kidney!

Dr. Sattar is the guru for you.

While medical school curricula often emphasize physiology, it never quite seems to stick by the time the board exams roll around.

Pathoma is the best tool for this job.

In the succinct and eloquent lecture series, Dr. Sattar talks and draws his way through advanced pathophysiology topics. He is cognizant of what board-examiners are looking for, and the ways in which students tend to misstep. Each lecture is a mini white board talk, complete with flow charts and diagrams. The accompanied textbook is more of an outline, the meat is in the videos.

While reading textbooks, such as BRS physiology, can be a good reference guide, Pathoma is much better for conceptualizing pathways, and this is precisely where First Aid falls short.

In a prior blog post we wrote “Use Pathoma as an appetizer or a nightcap to your studying, not as the main course. It can be a powerful tool to consolidate large-scale conceptual information after a study block or to prime yourself before beginning one.”



Your Quick Guide on How to Use Pathoma Wisely for the USMLE Step 1:


1. Do not try to watch every Pathoma video. The product includes over 35 hours of didactic learning – time when you could be completing more practice tests or going back over flashcards.

  • Instead focus on topics that are easier to learn in a chalk talk format, rather than read in a book
    • Cardiac physiology, hematology (the coagulation cascade, for example), Immunology (all that can go wrong with B and T cells!), general principles of disease pathology and wound healing, nephrology
  • In general, the beginning of each chapter is physiology focused and more specific to concepts that Pathoma can teach you, vs the pathology sections which contains more diagnostic associations you will have already learned from other material and thus lower yield


2. Watch Pathoma on double speed before beginning a block to refresh yourself of the concepts

  • While UWORLD questions actively enforce retrieval of information, Pathoma is a great way to refresh and re-learn topics prior to consolidating with retrieval


3. Watch Pathoma on double speed after finishing a block to consolidate all the information you just learned

  • Specifically do this for harder blocks, such as hematology, where pathophysiology is more complex and Pathoma does a much better job of illustrating concepts than a flat page.


4. Watch Pathoma if you’re tired at the end of a long study day. It isn’t as effective as retrieval-based learning, but let’s face it – we’re all human! If you know you’re just too beat to crank through yet another UWorld test, this is a good middle ground. Let yourself absorb some passive learning while you cool down
from your studying; you’ve earned it.

  • Pro tip! Some students find re-watching Pathoma lectures to be a great activity for the treadmill or elliptical at the gym. But keep in mind, this is passive review, which we do not always recommend.

In summary, Pathoma is a great tool for augmenting your USMLE Step 1 studying, but cannot, and should not, be used in isolation. Consider taking notes from Pathoma directly into your First Aid textbook to consolidate your reference guide. This will also help you to see what Pathoma leaves out, and fill in the physiology gaps that First Aid doesn’t teach.


That’s all for this post! We hope you found our quick guide helpful. As always, if you need any additional help preparing for the USMLE Step 1, creating a resource strategy, or making a study schedule, don’t hesitate to contact us here.

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