(Or: Give Me The Right Answers, ABEM!)Today we residents are post-inservice exam, put together by The American Board of Emergency Medicine, and I can say this about the test: I’m glad I’m not an intern anymore. I’ve obviously still got a lot to learn, but it’s nothing like the feeling of overwhelmth (yes, just made that up) you feel halfway through your internship thinking, “I’m supposed to know the answer to this?”
But today I’m not writing about those mushy-gushy feelings and experiences. No no. Today, I want answers.
I was always annoyed with standardized medical tests (primarily the USMLE) where you left the exam with a) no idea how you performed and b) no real feedback for several months. At this point, I don’t really care if I missed a question about cyclic GMP on USMLE Step I, but for the inservice exam, it’s a different story. This is stuff that I apparently need to know. And so, please, ABEM: I want to know the right answers.
If the point of the inservice and the boards is knowledge and learning and requiring a certain level of competency of emergency physicians, then why not give us feedback so we don’t actually screw something up with an actual patient? What, the answer wasn’t ceftriaxone? Why not? What is it that I’m not understanding about the case that you thought it so important a concept as to test it? If a resident answers that he or she wants to use an ABG to rule out a pulmonary embolism, or decide to get abdominal films as the test of choice for right lower quadrant pain, shouldn’t we be telling that resident (or his or her program) that there’s some serious educating that needs to happen?
ABEM: I want an email with feedback on the questions I missed, or wasn’t sure about. Have me optionally fill out my email address in bubble format, and when you scan through my answers and calculate my percentage, email me the answers. Or, if you don’t want to share the questions because you recycle them, email me the specific topic. Not just “management of status epilepticus,” but “second and third line agents for status epilepticus.” Not just “tick borne disease,” but “treatment of pediatric lyme disease.”