This week on USMLE Prep Platform Reviews: Pathoma
Pathoma is an outstanding resource for your USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK studies, which integrates embryology, anatomy, pathophysiology, and pathology all in one. The online video lectures are given by Dr. Hussain Sattar, a pathology professor at the University of Chicago, and the quality of these lectures are excellent as he makes memorable points in an easy to learn way. The lengths of the various lectures vary, but 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, including but not limited to blood vessels, the clotting cascade, and general pathology concepts to add color to his points and make them more easily understandable. We find that many of our students that use Pathoma often replicate these illustrations in studying for their USMLE exam because they are so memorable.
Before we get into our quick points and full review of Pathoma, we do want to note that since Pathoma does not try to advertise itself as a complete 1-stop shop to USMLE prep, (but rather just a “tremendous resource in studying for USMLE Step 1”) 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 do rank Pathoma very highly, we also recommend using it in addition to at least 1 other USMLE prep resource.
Pathoma 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
- Instructor (Dr. Sattar) makes information easily understandable
- Inexpensive: $100 for one-year online subscription plus 200 page textbook
- All passive, didactic learning
- Sparse use of mnemonics
- 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 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 from the deep and doctorly vaults of your brain. This research on learning efficacy is why we advocate using question banks 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:
Like 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.
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 Recommendations for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 studies with Pathoma
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. Specifically, we recommend:
- Watch Pathoma on double speed before beginning a block to refresh yourself of the concepts
- Watch Pathoma on double speed after finishing a block to consolidate all the information you just learned
- 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.
- 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.
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.
For additional questions on how to score high with Pathoma on your Step 1 or Step 2 exam, contact one of our experienced USMLE tutors.