Pathoma: USMLE Prep Platform Reviews
This blog was originally posted on November 23rd, 2018, and updated in October 2023 by Dr. Kathleen Oakes.
Elite Medical Prep’s Pathoma Review
When studying for the USMLE Step 1, it’s important to focus on only a few high-yield sources. This is crucial to avoiding resource overload and making sure that you actually make it to all important high-yield content. In this post, we’ll review Pathoma to assist your Step 1 study plan decision.
Pathoma is an outstanding resource for your USMLE Step 1 studies. As its name suggests, it primarily focuses on pathology, but does an excellent job of integrating embryology, anatomy, and pathophysiology. The online video lectures are given by Dr. Hussain Sattar, an academic surgical pathologist and pathology professor at the University of Chicago. The quality of his lectures is excellent as he makes memorable points in an easy-to-learn way. The lengths of the various lectures vary. However, Dr. Sattar allocates appropriate time to each body system and expands when necessary to tie in various points from basic physiology.
With regards to illustrations found in the video content, Dr. Sattar draws out various parts of his lectures. These include, but are not limited to blood vessels, the clotting cascade, and general pathology concepts to add color to his points and make them more easily understandable. Many students using Pathoma often replicate these memorable illustrations in their USMLE exam preparation.
Before delving into our review, it’s important to note that Pathoma doesn’t market itself as a comprehensive solution for USMLE preparation. Rather, Pathoma claims to be a “tremendous resource in studying for USMLE Step 1”. For this reason, we have not penalized the platform in our ratings for its lack of on-site features such as flashcards, a Qbank, a customizable study schedule, etc. As such, while we highly recommend Pathoma, we also advise using it alongside at least one other USMLE prep resource.
Pathoma review at a glance: Our overall score: 4/5 stars
- Well organized and covers fundamentals of pathology and pathophysiology of various diseases
- Relates pathology to basic tenets of embryology and anatomy
- Comprehensive resource that uses a systems-based approach to pathology that starts broad and drills down
- Incorporates both videos and lecture notes that span all USMLE topics and PDF summaries
- The instructor (Dr. Sattar) makes information easily understandable
- Inexpensive: $100 for a one-year online subscription plus a 200-page textbook
- All passive, didactic learning
- Sparse use of mnemonics
- The website can be clunky, and videos occasionally glitch
- Some videos are very long, which may distract from higher-yield study tools
- No app available
- Variable level of detail
- Extensive review of basic pathology required in upfront videos requires significant time input
Pathoma is excellent at what it does. Dr. Sattar delivers clear, concise, and well-organized lectures that walk you through a broad overview of every major topic on the USMLE exams, then focus in on the pertinent details of each subject. The only problem with Pathoma is how it can influence your study time.
At Elite Medical Prep we endorse evidence-based studying; studies on education and learning have shown time and again that the most bang you can get for your buck in terms of study time is through retrieval-based learning – that is, doing practice questions, quizzing yourself with open-response flashcards, and other activities that involve active retrieval of information, which enhance future recall. This research on learning efficacy is why we advocate using Qbanks like UWorld as the backbone of your study time. Pathoma is an effective supplement that we support the use of. But keep in mind the potential pitfalls of passive learning and don’t allow this to become the bulk of your study days.
In any event, here’s our breakdown of Pathoma’s features:
As we mentioned before, Pathoma videos are really well done. The videos can be watched at slower or faster speeds than the regular speed, and this is an easy-to-change feature within the videos that are embedded on the Pathoma website. Video content, however, is not legally downloadable, but a Pathoma subscription comes with a hard copy book that very closely correlates with Dr. Sattar’s lecture series.
Besides the videos and book, there are no explicit lecture questions or an integrated question bank with this resource. Nor is there a study schedule tool or further link-outs to resources. Pathoma can, however, be watched on a web browser on mobile devices, although depending on the device, quality may suffer compared to a regular laptop or desktop.
Our Final Review and Recommendations for USMLE Step 1 Studies with Pathoma
We recommend using Pathoma as a review resource, but it should not make up the bulk of your Step 1 studying. It can be a powerful tool to consolidate large-scale conceptual information after a study block or to prime yourself before beginning one. Specifically, we recommend:
- Watching relevant Pathoma videos during your preclinical course work to hone in on the most high-yield information
- Watching Pathoma during your dedicated period 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.
- Not trying to watch every Pathoma video. The product includes over 35 hours of didactic learning – this is valuable time you could be spending on more practice tests or reviewing flashcards.
Overall, Pathoma is a comprehensive resource that breaks down USMLE concepts into manageable chunks designed by a well-respected and excellent medical educator. We recommend it as a supplement to question-based studying; use it for its broad concepts, not to cram specific facts.