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How to Use OnlineMedEd to Study for Shelf Exams and Step 2

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A medical school student studying for his shelf exams using OnlineMedEd, sitting at a desk in front of a laptop.

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In my first clerkship, I quickly learned that the information medical students were expected to know was suddenly very different from the knowledge that got me through my pre-clerkship curriculum. Instead of the emphasis on basic science and foundations, the clerkship year and shelf exams required much more focus on diagnostics and management of common (and uncommon) diseases, understanding and managing disease complications, and preventing disease recurrence in the future. While I had some knowledge of these clinical skills, I realized I needed a comprehensive resource as I studied for shelf exams throughout the clinical year. Especially in the transition from very guided lectures and curriculum in the pre-clerkship years to the more independent learning required during clerkships, having a guiding resource was of utmost importance to maintain focused learning. For me, that resource was OnlineMedEd.

 

 

What is OnelineMedEd?

 

OnlineMedEd is a relatively newer resource for medical students trying to learn about topics in both the pre-clerkship and clerkship phases of their curriculum. Co-founded by Internal medicine Physician Dustyn Williams, the OnlineMedEd content is impressively comprehensive and well-structured for students in any phase of their medical school curriculum. 

 

Video content is the primary format for OnlineMedEd’s learning. Taking a glance at any of their core curriculum sections, you’ll find that there is a well-organized list of the major medical disciplines (surgery, internal medicine, OBGYN, etc.) and organ systems (cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, etc.) with a list of common topics/diseases and associated videos for each category. 

 

Unlike many other resources, however, OnlineMedEd videos strike a unique balance of comprehensiveness with concise explanations of the information at hand. Most videos, for example, feature the Co-Founder Dustyn Williams covering one whiteboard with all the information you need to know about broad topics like: angina, abnormal uterine bleeding, or anemia. For me, this was a really helpful feature. As a clinical year student, I didn’t have time for 40+ slide PowerPoint presentations to teach me everything I needed to know; I wanted just enough to help me be successful on rotations and throughout my Qbank learning. 

 

Now going on my 3rd year of tutoring, OnlineMedEd is always on my list of recommended resources for any student studying clerkship-specific content for shelf preparation and for Step 2 / Level 2. Here’s how I like to have my students incorporate it into their studying. 

 

Using OnlineMedEd for Shelf Exam Preparation

 

Shelf preparation should ideally begin at the very beginning of any new clerkship rotation. Let’s take, for example, OB/GYN, as the first clerkship a medical student may have. In the first week or two of the clerkship experience, the information is likely to be overwhelming and foreign (even if you knew everything from your pre-clerkship studies). Setting a goal for completing all of the video reviews for the OB/GYN content within the first third of the rotation should ideally help any student feel a bit more accustomed to the jargon, diseases, and management strategies for all of the patients that they will be seeing during that time. 

 

For OB/GYN, this would include video-based content in the following areas: 

 

1. Gynecology Anatomy & Physiology

  • Female Pelvic Anatomy
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Gynecological Infections
  • Adnexal Masses
  • Approach to Vaginal Bleeding
  • Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

 

2. Gynecology Oncology

  • Overview of Gynecologic Cancers
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancers
  • Vaginal & Vulvar Cancers
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

 

3. Gynecology Reproductive Endocrinology

  • Puberty
  • Primary Amenorrhea
  • Secondary Amenorrhea
  • Menopause
  • PCOS & Hyperandrogenism
  • The Infertile Couple

 

4. Obstetrics: Preconception

  • Physiology of Pregnancy
  • Preconception Counseling and Routine Prenatal Care
  • Medical Disease and Teratogens
  • Contraception

 

5. Obstetrics: Early Pregnancy

  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Spontaneous & Induced Abortions
  • Multifetal Gestation
  • Antenatal Genetic Screening

 

6. Obstetrics: Late Pregnancy

  • Hypertension and Eclampsia Spectrum
  • Diabetes During Pregnancy
  • Third-Trimester Bleeding
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Perinatal Infections 1 – TORCH
  • Perinatal Infections 2 – NOT TORCH
  • Alloimmunization 

 

7. Obstetric: Labor & Delivery

  • Normal Labor & Delivery
  • Antenatal Testing and Intrapartum Surveillance
  • Protraction and Arrest of Labor
  • Pre- and Post-Term Complications of Pregnancy
  • Obstetrical Operations

 

Alongside this video review, I always recommend pairing a video with practice questions shortly after. This will help reinforce the information and the nuances around each topic become more readily understood. This could be accomplished either by using the built-in challenge questions associated with each video or by finding similar categories of questions within QBanks like UWorld or Amboss

 

After getting through all of the video content in the first portion of the clerkship, the remaining study time should be spent reinforcing and retaining this information. Ideally, you are starting to complete your shelf-specific questions from UWorld or other question banks during this time. 

 

Throughout your question bank sets, you will likely identify specific topics that you feel need improvement. Using OnlineMedEd’s study sheets or challenge questions (see below) can be a great way to refine your knowledge and improve your question bank performance up until your shelf exam date.

 

 

Using OnlineMedEd for Step 2 CK/Comlex Level 2 Preparation

 

Assuming that you’ve used OnlineMedEd throughout the clerkship year for shelf studying, a student will ideally have completed all of the video content review by the time they enter into their dedicated study period. Some medical schools, however, do not have students complete rotations or shelf exams in fields like Neurology or Emergency Medicine. If this is the case, I would highly recommend finishing this content in OnlineMedEd ahead of the dedicated period. This allows students to focus on incorporating their existing knowledge into successful diagnosis and management, rather than learning new content.

 

Once you enter into your dedicated study period, OnlineMedEd has some great features that make it easy to circle back on past content for your Step 2 / Level 2 exam. 

 

Repeating video review:

 

this becomes especially important for any shelf exams that may have been taken earlier in the clerkship year, which may not be as readily remembered as more recent clerkships. While I would discourage repeating every single video from a shelf topic, picking select topics you know that you struggle with can be helpful to address weaknesses you may encounter in the question banks. 

 

Study Sheets:

 

these 1-,2-, or 3-page documents that pair with each video are one way to refresh yourself on weak topics without spending excessive time reviewing video content. They often include diagrams, charts, and tables that help to show the key information visually, making them a great learning tool for anyone who wants to catch up quickly. 

 

Challenge Questions:

 

If you find that you’re still struggling on specific topics within your question bank after focused content review, completing the OnlineMedEd challenge questions for a select few topics can help. As you answer these targeted questions, you will start to understand some of your knowledge deficits and can continue reinforcing the clinical knowledge so that you are ready for any iteration of the topics when it comes time to sit for the real exam.

 

OnlineMedEd is a fast-growing resource that is incorporating new ways of learning medical education content rapidly. The entire platform has changed dramatically even over the few years since I was using it to study for the board exams. Seeing how much the platform is changing, I am optimistic that OnlineMedEd will continue to be cutting-edge for shelf and USMLE/COMLEX preparation for years to come.

 

If you are looking for additional help with your shelf or board exams, consider enlisting the help of an Elite Medical Prep tutor! Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn more about how we can help you succeed!

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