|Glossary of Questions for Webpage
Please accept my best wishes and thanks for the chance to work with you.
Like you, I dislike officious people and things can be "too efficient" so I hope the tone below does not offend. However, my focus is on the ball helping you and others pass Boards so efficiency is very important. I love to talk strategy and interacting with you, but please realize I am on the road nearly 30 weekends a year, work part time at the University, and donít have full-time help in my office. Therefore, we all need to pull together to beat the beast of Boards and this means being "maximally efficient". I will talk to any of you at any time but please read and learn as much as you can about the programs before calling with questions which are answered here and elsewhere. Such calls are not bad nor are they unwelcome or tiresome, but they do sap my time and my energies. If I didnít love talking to you and interacting with you and helping you I would not be doing this, but I am under pressure to produce, too, so please be thoughtful about calling with the very same questions answered (often in multiple places) below.
I have alphabetized the most common sources of confusion and/or questions below. Please call my office if the following information is not helpful at 800-321-7737. Further, please note that almost all of the common questions you may have are addressed on the website under FAQs (www.boardprep.com). Consulting this information may be the fastest way to address your concerns and help you avoid unnecessary frustration.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Airports: Final airports will be announced exactly one month before courses but here is what is most highly likely: Boston (Logan International); Chicago (OíHare); Dallas (DFW); Los Angeles (Los Angeles International); New York-New Jersey (Newark).
Attendance verification: Attendance verification will be provided at the course. The issue of CME is addressed below. Bottom line: we deserve it, but donít have it.
Attendance verification for residents: If you have received a course information/location letter, either by internet or by ground mail, you are on the course roster and donít need to call and verify this. If for some reason you feel a need to verify please call my assistants line at 319-338-7800 and ask for a callback regarding attendance verification. Again, if you have registered and have received either an email or ground mail letter, you are registered and can simply follow the other instructions in the letter. For residents, no need to fax your letter of residency confirmation (required to get the resident rate). However, you must present this at the course "no exceptions"to get the resident rate.
Book chapters lost: If you have lost a chapter in one of the books, first of all please know that the books are all put together by hand. After this is completed by one person, it is completely checked by a second personópage by page. Therefore, frankly, the chapter was almost certainly there originally and has been taken out by you and unfortunately lost. We would be happy to help you replace these and will simply prorate their cost in the following way: $8/chapter for short chapters (less than 10 pages) and $12 for longer chapters (greater than 10 pages). To do this, please call my assistants line at 319-338-7800 and leave your name, address, phone as well as when you bought the book and what you are requesting to have replaced. Then leave your credit card with the expiration date. We want to be fair, but replacing lost chapters is onerous and time consuming. Thanks for your understanding.
Books: When and how sent? Books are sent Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by US Priority mail which requires 5-7 business days for delivery. If the address is a suite or apartment, books are sent return receipt request (someone must sign for them) or you must go the post office to sign for them. This is important as we still get calls from people insisting their books have not arrived when, in fact, they are in the post-office awaiting pick-up. Please watch for the notice if you live in an apartment.
Book content questions or evaluation of your personal key words: If you are writing to ask about a personal key word or about a question regarding book content, please know this will be difficult for me to tackle immediately because of the extreme demands upon me. I am flattered to be asked but with courses, writing, travel, and work at the University my response time is often nothing to write home about. Please start with the references provided and these may very likely help you solve the issue of concern. If not, please write back and when I get a chance I will try very hard to get to it. Please be understanding as this may take some time and I cannot promise anything immediately. Sometimes a course is an excellent place to take a look at these special situations.
Books: Pdf or digital format: Books are not available in pdf or digital format. Big Blue and Big Red are both now available in audio format.
Book return policy: None. I would be happy to describe books in great detail (and there is significant information on the web site) but I don't have the time or infrastructure to be shipping books back and forth across the country, often after they have been used or in some other way damaged such that they cannot be resold. All of the books have wonderful track records and many, many accolades. Again, I would be happy to discuss the materials, answering any question and/or providing description. Simply call me at 800-321-7737 to discuss books or preparation.
Calling Dr. Jensen-Office Hours: If you find you have a question or need more discussion about strategy or about an ordering decision I am most often available in the office between 10-1 and will be happy to speak with you. I work part time at the University, however, and travel frequently so if you are unable to reach me please wait a day or so and then call again. Always specify how late I can call you as I have awakened more than a few warriors in the past. I always feel badly about getting someone out of bed or awakening a spouse.
Cancellations: Material preparation, meeting room rental, and faculty flights and schedules are based upon presumed attendance. Refunds will be for $250 less than payment made. Some courses donít give any money back or say they will and then donít. I want and need your friendship, but by the time credit cards fees are paid and course expenses are met the $250 is very fair.
CDs - Missing: If you have a defective CD please call Mr. Rod Mickel at 319-335-2541. Rod is my sound master, he recorded and mixed the CDs and he duplicates them for me. Rod has been exceptionally able and reliable about replacing defective CDs. Please call him and leave your full name, address, and phone number as well the CD you are having trouble with and the nature of the problem. Rod will then get back to you and replace the CD. If this does not happen within a few days, please call and get us involved and we will do so. I donít want you frustrated about defective CDs. This cannot help us beat the Beast and creates internal dissention and time lost, which we donít need.
CME (continuing medical education) credit-category 1: We tried very hard to get category 1 CME credit two years ago. Basically, it was approved by the Dean but shot down at the Departmental level. Clearly, the meeting is "continuing education" and on a far higher level than the "Colorado Ski meeting" or the "Bermuda anesthesia course" (with all due respect intended) but there was concern that if the Department seemed to affiliate with me that the Board may decrease the number of Oral Board examiners from our Department or accept fewer to write Written questions. So CME did not go through and I have never been able to offer it.
Confirmation of registration: If you register on-line and receive a location/hotel confirmation letter please consider that "official confirmation" (as noted in the letter). I assure you that further confirmation is unnecessary but if you really desire it, please call and leave a message on 319-338-7800. If you register by mail, please call 319-338-7800 and leave a request message about a week after sending your check. My assistant will call you back.
Costs: The cost of the course is noted on the registration page. The cost of the meeting does not include transportation or hotel costs.
Course locations and times: If you are writing to ask about a hotel or location, please consult the website at www.boardprep.com under "Courses/dates/hotels" exactly one month before a meeting and the location will be posted along with all pertinent logical information. I promise that virtually every logical question regarding courses is addressed. The NY-NJ courses generally require one to fly into Newark rather than LaGuardia, but this is not known for sure until one month before a meeting. Many call about this, but without a hotel contract we simply donít know and cannot commit. For Dallas, one should fly into DFW, for Chicago OíHare, and for Los Angeles LAX. Written courses start on Thursday morning and end Sunday at about noon. Oral courses start on Friday morning and end Sunday about noon. Exact times will be noted on the hotel/location letter posted exactly one month in advance of a meeting on the website.
Course differences-A vs B vs C: What's the difference and when should one take course(s)? Many find answering Board like very useful and do all three courses; youíll benefit from as much exposure to high quality questions and answers as possible.
The "A" Question Database hammers away at topics, questions, and key words in a question-answer testing format. It simulates the exam in terms of likely question topics, accustoms you to the pacing of the examination, and tests your knowledge of likely topic areas so you can focus especially hard on these in subsequent preparation.
"B" covers different questions and answers but embodies the same, successful format as "A" - namely a question-answer, testing format. You don't need to take "A" to benefit from "B". Neither set of questions is any "better" than the other, they're just different questions. Both databases cover all of the relevant topics tested. In general, all things being equal, Dr Jensen recommends taking the course as early as possible because it changes the way one prepares for the test and provides insights regarding topics of strength and weakness which are best gained as soon as possible.
"C" covers different questions and answers but embodies the same successful format as "A" and "B" - namely a question-answer, testing format. You don't need to take "A" or "B" to benefit from "C". The questions in "C" are not any better than the questions in "A" or "B", but they are different questions and many who have attended "A" and/or "B" have found them very helpful. "C" is given closer to the examination and in this way is a "buff and polish" session, highly productive and useful in the 11th hour before D-Day. The Final PREP "C" program calms anxiety, provides a focused and structured environment, and very much gets the Ranger warrior in the "test-taking mode" which can be so critical to success.
Again, we are often asked which program is strongest. The courses are equal in strength. They are simply different sets of questions. Again, youíll benefit from as much exposure to high quality questions and answers as possible.
Course: Final PREP: The Final PREP meetings for both Oral and Written programs have been associated with a great deal of success. It is very, very doubtful you will accomplish as much at home as we do in the sturctured environment of the course. You may feel safer and more secure at home (that is the nature of "home"), but there is no doubt in my mind that you will be better prepared if you attend the Final PREP meeting. Actually, the course calms anxiety because it puts you in a productive environment of work and study. Simply put, the meeting will put you in the best frame of mind and best sharpen your game for the battle. I urge you to attend you be happy you did.
Course switching: You can switch courses and without cost. I realize plans change. However, please let me know as soon as you can since we prepare costly materials, rent meeting space, and make travel arrangements (for us and often other faculty) based upon attendance. The cancellation policy is covered above.
Course locations/details: We are now putting every location and details letter on the webpage (www.boardprep.com under "Courses/dates/hotels") to maximize efficiency. The upside is that this information will be more accessible and sooner - avoiding much frustration for all. The downside is that many may be inclined to put off formal registration for the course. YOU MUST FORMALLY REGISTER FOR THE COURSE AND THIS CAN BE DONE ON THE ORDERING-REGISTRATION AREA OF THIS WEBSITE. Please donít show up to the course unannounced and know if you do I simply cannot guarantee I can accommodate you at the meeting. Obviously, I will always try my best but physical space may not even be available in the testing room for you. Again, please formally sign-up for the course on the ordering part of the webpage. Once this is done, and you receive a confirmation note back from us, you will be on the roster and need not call or write to verify this. The response email from us should be considered such verification.
Dates-Future Dates: I appreciate your interest in the course very much. I am very flattered to be involved with your preparation. With all humility, I believe the programs are very strong, the most focused for these challenging examinations. Since I do about 30 courses a year, it is very time consuming and challenging to set the dates way beyond what I am doing. I always try to get the schedule done as soon as I can for the next year, but often cannot do so until mid to late May of each year. This is unfortunate, but just the way it has to be with so many variables. I would certainly obtain the study materials and start now. What I lack in support and infrastructure, I try to make up for in excellent teaching at the course. In the future, I will try to have dates sooner. .Thanks again for your interest.
Deadlines: We realize you sometimes donít know until quite late if you can attend a meeting and we have no formal "deadlines". Please let us know as soon as you can if you intend to attend and register on-line or send a check to us. We will always try to take you into a course, even last minute, but we are sometimes limited by space in the meeting-conference rooms.
Dr. Jensen CV: See the fun file on the website.
Dr. Jensen requests for visiting progrms-"visiting professor": I am very flattered to be asked a few times a year to be a visiting professor or visiting instructor at various programs around the country. I am sorry to say I cannot do this as much as I would like, but each year, always in the Fall, I do one or two visiting instructorships. I usually teach Board review to residents, Oral and/or Written, and enjoy it greatly. If your program contacts me I will do my best to come.
Discounts-Residents and Fellows: Residents and fellows receive a discount for Written courses. There are no discounts offered for books or other materials. There are no discounts offered for Oral courses. The structure of the Oral course is such that each participant takes a certain number of one on one exams. Our costs are much higher and more fixed for Oral courses for this reason. But the Oral course also includes listening to high quality cases, the range of cases to be tested and is very valuable for this reason. No one has my cases or my experience teaching in this arenaóperhaps the reason the course is still #1 in those taking it after more than a decade. I donít offer discountsóno exceptions. I guess because I am so personally involved many people approach me about discounts. I have to be uniform and fair to all. The prices are fair and I canít discount them further.
Editions (New): Please see "Updates".
Failure: There is nothing tougher to handle than failure. Donít spiral down. Give me a call and letís talk about it. I can help.
Fees for Courses A, B, or C. Fees for Oral Courses: The course fees are the same for any and all of the courses.
Home study materials: Does the price of the course include home study materials? Courses do not include home study materials, which are sold separately. A complete syllabus is distributed at Written and Pain courses and handouts are distributed at Oral courses. Home study is critical to success however, so please consider being well-armed for the battle ahead. Home study options are fully discussed on this web site but I stand ready to discuss them further if you want to give me a call.
Hotels: You are not required to stay in the hotel to attend a course. There is no penalty for not staying in the hotel. It is not required that you fill in the hotel information on the website to sign up for a course. The price of courses does not include the costs of the hotel.
Hotel reservations and confirmations: Complete instructions regarding hotels are provided in the letter which is sent exactly one month before courses and also posted on the website at that time (under "Courses/dates/hotels"). We donít have the information before this time, since contracts are not signed. The costs of meeting and sleeping space are less if we are patient and sign contracts one month in advance-even though it is more stressful for all. WE DONíT KNOW IN WHAT HOTEL THE COURSE WILL BE UNTIL EXACTLY ONE MONTH BEFORE THE COURSE. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE FOR US TO SPECULATE.
Hotel reservations: Hotel reservations must be made in a very detailed and specific way - to protect you. As noted on the hotel/location letter which is sent and also posted on the website (under "Courses/dates/hotels"), reservations must come through my hotel line at 319-338-7800. Leave your name, addres,, phone, credit card number and expiration date (this is a secure line-never a single problem). Also state date of checkin, checkout, single, double, smoking, nonsmoking preferences. We will then enter you into the hotel and you should call the hotel one week before the meeting to get your confirmation number from the hotel itself. At this time, make sure you double check the check-in and check-out dates and other details. All of this information will be reiterated and specified in the hotel location and information letter which is sent one month before a course and posted on the website.
Hotel surcharges: There are none. If you donít desire to stay in the hotel you donít have to do and there will be no penalty from me. On the other hand, Iíve worked with a few people and so often when people stay outside and especially with family and friends they are less organized, less rested, less focused, and less effective. Even if you are a resident, money is not your problemóBoards are. Take a long view and get in synch with the meeting. Stay in the hotel if at all possible.
Office hours: Office hours vary according to my schedule and those of my student assistants. Generally, but this is not a promise, the best time to reach someone directly in the office is about 10-12 am. Please leave a detailed message if no one is here. I realize this is somewhat frustrating in our world of immediate gratification, but I need space, time, and some isolation to write, think, and create. Therefore, I cannot have someone around me here all the time; it is very annoying to me. Although it represents some inconvenience and is not how the world runs anymore, itís how I run best and how I do my best for you. If this angers you or is something you cannot accept, I believe it would be best for you to find another coach, another program. I am not for everyone.
Oral Course - Case types: The Board seems to be discouraging aggressive examiners and aggressive and hostile exams. However, multiple emails attest to the fact that these still occur. We must therefore simulate the aggressive examiner, but perhaps not hour after hour as we once did. In the place of this once common exam seems to be more complex and even esoteric cases often involving multiple medical problems. A recent email stated: "Tell the Rangers the cases are complex, often involving several issues some of which are very uncommon. The problems are almost always covered in Big Red but one has to know it cold." Often I am asked, "Would they really test that?" Yes, otherwise we would not present it. Residencies don't often properly prepare one for the challenges of the actual examination. This is what you're asking us to help correct.
Oral Course - extra exams: The course is self-contained. You will take 3-4 exams over the course of the weekend and will listen to as much of the complete range of cases as is reasonably possibly. Some find they want more exams and we can offer these in most cases for a reasonable price at the course. Let me know as soon as possible, however, including in advance so I can properly plan and schedule these tests.
Oral Course - Faculty critiques Just the like Board, everyone has an opinion-including me and the faculty. You may disagree, but don't get too angry or concerned-it's just feedback from one person. We need to be honest, but we're not perfect. If a disagreement arises, state your view, voice yourself, then settle down and put it in perspective. We're on your side and we want to help you. But honesty is important, too, so a balance needs to be struck. We also make mistakes at times with facts and information. Please disagree, state or write your concerns, and bring it to my attention so I can address it further and/or get it corrected.
Oral Course - Final PREP: Is it worthwhile, why? History has shown it is valuable to come to the Final PREP and I would come if you possibly can. The format is the same (mock oral based with me largely running the group) but many different cases are presented which we don't have time to do during the "A" course (especially since I felt I needed to extend the discussion time for cases at the course pursuant to Ranger requests). Because we simulate the exam hour after hour, the Final PREP decreases anxiety and calms nerves as it increases your preparation, and your actual firepower in the exam room. Coming to the Final PREP will improve your performance on exam day in ways that reading and/or worrying at home simply cannot.
Oral Course - format: The Oral course format is a mock Oral testing format. Each participant takes exams (sometimes public, sometimes private) and also listens to exams which are administered (usually by Dr. Jensen) in front of the group. No one is forced to be examined in front of the group but it is probably helpful to do so.
Oral Course - format: Does one have to test in front of the group? You are NOT required to be examined in front of the group. If you insist, you can do all of your exams privately. Much will be gained by listening to these sometimes challenging exams and to taking your exams in private. After all, the exam itself is given privately. In other words, it's OK not to test in front of the group.
Oral Exam - format: Covering cases versus discussing them-a difficult challenge What is too much time versus too little time on a case? There is no more difficult decision to be made than restricting discussion on cases. Honestly, I could discuss each case done in front of the group for at least 45 minutes, if not one hour. In some respects, while each case deserves one hour by taking this much time we cannot cover the range of cases, we cannot even come close to doing so, and there are large and critical gaps in case coverage. Public exams in front of the group used to be 20 minutes rather than 30 minutes, just to expose you to as many scenarios as possible. This puts enormous pressure on all of us and was tough on people with questions, but was very effective. I slowed the group down to 30 minutes for each exam and discussion and we could actually go longer, as noted. The problem is that several important cases don't get presented and these must wait until the Final PREP, which some cannot attend. I recognize that some want to spend considerably longer on case discussion. Often, to be honest, these are the very same people who have NOT read Big Red. Therefore, your preparation for the course is important, too. However, this will never be perfect, people tell me the course changes the manner in which they prepare, so I would not delay coming to a course until your preparation is perfect. Most Warriors tell me they wish they had come earlier. I agree. Remember: "A good plan violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan next week."
Oral course - Friday (What time do we start? What if I have to miss most of the day? Is it important to be there Friday?) I start on Friday at 0800 in a conference room in the hotel. Check with the front desk for instructions. Try to be there to hear the cases, we won't have the time to repeat them. I generally cover outlining at 3-4 pm. Here is some background information to further explain and clarify these points.
There has been some confusion about the structure of Friday. For my first 90 meetings or so, Friday amounted to a brief test in my hotel room--mostly one on one--with the next examinee waiting in the hall or sitting in the room. On Saturday, the real work and my effort to cover the entire range of cases began in earnest. This format worked with remarkable efficiency and success. Gradually however, a few Rangers convinced me to move these "private" meetings in my hotel room to a hotel conference room where those who desired could attend.
This was clearly the right thing to do and added to the course, but while Friday does add to the course, the course is probably not critically compromised if one cannot attend or arrives late on Friday. Many do. I have to start to complete the work of the course, but if you cannot attend on Friday you will still gain a great deal from the course.
If you miss Friday entirely, it sometimes means you will miss one exam over the course of our time together, but I really try to come through for you and make this up. Sometimes, and depending upon the size of the meeting, it simply is not fair to everyone for me to compromise cases or the discussion relevant to them to make-up work for those who are not able to make it on Friday but I like to do what's right (most helpful for you) and that's to get your work done, if at all possible.
Oral course - General Information: I hope to have hotel information exactly 4 weeks before the course, at which time I will send it along by ground mail and also post this information on the web site (www.boardprep.com) under "Courses/Dates" under the Oral option. I am always interested in strategizing and talking with you about how to pass Boards but please don't call regarding hotels or locations of courses until exactly 4 weeks before a course and only then if the information is not on the website within the time frame noted (exactly 4 weeks before a course). This time frame will allow you to get very good airfares. I will post the hotel and location information on the web site just as soon as it's available and you can sign up for the hotel after reading the hotel/location information right on the website (under "Ordering"). Some might wonder why the information is not available sooner. By signing contracts this close to a course, we get the fairest price for both sleeping and meeting space. Generally, one should be there on Thursday night as we start on Friday at 0800. The course ends Sunday about 1200. It is important to end about noon because mid-afternoon flights generally leave and are not delayed but late afternoon flights are often delayed and/or cancelled. The final PREP (final course in the city where Boards is to take place, weekend before Boards) is a day longer as we try to pace ourselves and end a little earlier in the day. It has been an excellent, final review. The Final PREP ends Sunday but it begins Thursday at 0800, rather than Friday. The hotel is not included in the costs of the courses but staying in the hotel is not mandatory. The NY/NJ meeting almost always takes place in NJ in either the Hasbrouck Heights area or the Meadowlands Area. Both involve flying into Newark. I am answering here some of the most commonly asked questions here and the information is repeated elsewhere.
Oral Course - Problems: Please have realistic expectations of us and let us know ASAP of problems. I cannot read your mind or somehow divine things which I have no direct knowledge about. Please do your part when it comes to letting us know how best to help you pass this difficult examination. If something goes wrong, please let me know so I can fix it.
Oral Course - size: The size of the Oral course is usually 30-40.
Oral Course - Start and Stop times: We will start meetings at 0800 and end promptly at noon on the final day. Generally, sessions run each day from 0800-1800, except the final day which ends at noon so those needing to catch flights can do so. The air traffic system slows down considerably after about 1600 on Sunday so one should try to catch flights around 1400 or even a bit earlier on Sunday.
Oral Course - Statistics: The truth: There is so much false information foisted upon people, phony claims and biased statistics, that good people can easily be deceived. Since when is a "study" fueled by secondary gain and driven by self-interest to obtain a predetermined result scientific? Many of these claims are simply bogus and the fancy graphs and so forth no better. For over a decade, I've avoided false claims and will continue to. When it comes to Board review courses selling themselves on the basis of internally collected "data" from vulnerable people, I like Mark Twain's line: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Here are the facts. We've done this longer than any other course and we've worked with more people than any other course. This may be the only available valid statistic available. It is impossible to track everyone because everyone does not report their results. (Some, understandably, take failure very hard and do not report negative results. Others find themselves too busy to report positive results. The end result is that a clear and precise denominator number is not available-not for us and not for other courses. Anyone who claims differently, is not being truthful.) There are also other variables such as people who take this course or another course and derive benefits from either (or both) but attribute success to only one. Further, in my view, no teacher should ever force students to answer questions designed to promote a course, for obvious reasons.
Here is the bottom line: We are not perfect, but we've done more of this than anyone and for a longest time and this is probably a good sign. We do our best to make you your best. This may be the most important thing about us you need to know.
Oral Course - syllabus: A packet of information is provided along with evaluation sheets at the course.
Many have asked for a copy of the stem questions we do at the course. Much consideration has been given to this request. For me, it would be better, easier, and make me appear "slicker and seemingly more organized" but for you I am convinced it would detract from your game day performance and thereby decrease the value of the course. Therefore, I believe the current format of reading the stem questions at the time they are given is the best format-the most optimal not from the standpoint of convenience but from the standpoint of ultimate performance.
The value of the course is in simulating in the actual examination, in all of various forms. One of the most intellectually and psychologically challenging aspects of preparation is the uncertainly of the cases one will be tested upon. We attack this problem at the course by trying to cover as much of the entire ranger of cases which is tested as is possible during our time together. This preview of cases is extremely important and valuable. By announcing in advance what cases will be covered a critical element of the surprise of the case is lost, and thereby the simulation I seek. I thought of somehow sealing the cases, but I know that with the pressures involved the seals would be broken in advance.
The fact is that the Oral is stressful and the best way to decrease this stress is to simulate the examination as much as possible. The Board does not pre-announce the cases it intends to test and therefore neither can we. Only by simulating the exam and, if anything making it somewhat harder, can I best coach you. Simply put, "We will aim above the mark, to hit the mark."
The course has produced unbelievable results for thousands of people over more than a decade. There are trade-off situations ("six of this, half dozen of that") and this is one of them but ultimately we must error not in the area of comfort or convenience but in the area of simulation. We will continue to read stems, to have the element of surprise at the course-just as at the Board itself.
Oral Course - Testing with Dr. Jensen The faculty are all experienced, skilled, and have a lot to offer. I don't think who tests you at the course makes a big difference. If you think it matters, please let me know as soon as possible (not late Saturday or Sunday morning). There will be a preference sheet to make your choices clear. However, even if I don't test you I would try to listen to the range of cases I present as it is important to have as much of a coverage of the range of cases as possible.
For those who feel it is important to test with me, I will make every effort to do so. I realize that many of my exams are tougher than those administered by the Board and/or my style of testing/grilling is sometimes more challenging. Chances are your actual exam will be easier. The question arises, then, why continue to practice difficult and even hostile exams.
a. Aggressive exams are still given. Sarcastic exams are still given. This is very clear from the hundreds of emails I get every year. We must simulate them. Everyone has a role at the course and this is part of my role.
b. I have been told time and time again, "I can get easy exams at my training program or from my partners. I want to be challenged, to be prepared to meet their best/toughest examiners." No one has administered more exams than me, that's just a fact, so I must meet this challenge.
c. It is often useful in preparing for this or other challenges to, "Shoot above the mark to hit the mark." Again, being easy is easy. But, "Smooth waters don't make skilled sailors," so more difficult training in practice helps on game day. This has been the experience of so many.
Before and after you have taken the examination, please try to understand a few things. First, you may never meet an aggressive or hostile examiner. If you have four people that want to pass you, and some do, some of this preparation seems retrospectively to have been unnecessary. Second, your experience with only four examiners is not the only experience one can have. I get hundreds of emails each year and have received thousands over time. The exam is multidimensional and variable-probably to an extent which is sometimes not completely fair. Please know, however, that if the exam were unidimensional or uniformly easy the market (namely you) would know of this, a formal course would be unnecessary, and we could all stay home. Third, I try to be constructive in my critiques and never personal, but most Warriors want pointed and honest critiques not just sugar coated reassurance. Fourth, I don't know and cannot control who comes in front of the group and the quality of their skills nor degree of their preparation. Fifth, please know that I will never try to hurt someone. At the same time, people are demanding and while those in the audience may want me to pull punches, the person actually taking the exams most often doesn't-they're paying me for my honest feedback-even if it may not always be totally right. Don't feel sorry for people taking exams in front of the room. It is very rare that they feel sorry for themselves.
Oral Course - Testing with Guest Faculty Other experienced faculty will very likely be testing at the course, depending upon course size. If the course is very, very small I may not need guest faculty, but this has not been the case for quite a long time, and for the better. The guest faculty are strong, experienced, and provide a different style and different point of view. Further, while no one is beyond making mistakes, they care enough to be involved-financially sacrificing to do so (I can't match locums rates). Some have told me the guest faculty are among the strongest points and best assets of the course.
Payment: We prefer to settle-up before courses, avoiding the time lost at meetings doing so. The best manner to do this is either by entering credit card information through the secure system on the internet (weíve never experienced a stolen card or any problem whatsoever after thousands of transactions) or with a check. If you desire to pay by check, please enter straight XXXXXís across the number fields and submit the information in that manner, then sending the check.
Receipts and record of payment: If you are writing for a receipt, please know that receipts are given at all courses. Please know that two types of receipts are sent with each order processed in the office, one hand written and one credit card receipt. These will be sent to you as orders are processed. However, if you sent a check in for the course no receipt is sent but one is provided at the course itself. If you cannot wait for this for some reason, please call my assistant line at 319-338-7800 and weíll send one out to you. In this case, please donít forget to leave your name, address, and phone number as well as which course the receipt is for.
Resident verification for Written courses: In order to received a discount, a resident or fellow must bring a letter from his or her Department designating resident or fellow status. It needs to be on Departmental stationary and have current (recent) dates. Do not fax or send this letter in advance, but please bring it with you to the course. The letterhead should have a Departmental phone number if there are any questions we may have about current status.
Statistics: There is so much false information foisted upon people, phony claims and biased information presented as fact, that good people can easily be deceived. Since when is a "study" fueled by secondary gain and driven by self-interest to obtain a predetermined result scientific? Many of these claims are simply bogus. For over a decade, Iíve avoided false claims. I will continue to, no matter the implications. When it comes to Board review courses selling themselves on the basis of internally collected "data" from vulnerable people, I like Mark Twainís line: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Taping at courses: Audio or video taping at courses is not permitted. People are exposed in many ways, especially the Coach, and taping stifles a free, unrestrained atmosphere. At the Oral course, you are welcome to record your own examination.
Times: Times for courses will be reviewed in the location letter which is sent and posted on the website under Courses/dates/hotels one month in advance. Courses generally start at 0800 and finish by the noon on the last day.
Timing: Many residents call wondering when to start. Today. Start today. Most tell me they wish they had started sooneróearlier in their residencies, in a given year, etc. Use the power of time to your advantage and make studying for Boards a regular part of your residency. In reality, you will be busier in practice than as a resident, yet another reason for starting early and passing on your first attempt.
Updates of books-new editions: I edit books throughout the year and in January change the title page to reflect a different edition number. The change in January, therefore, really reflects a date change more than anything else. In other words, I make changes as I get to them. The book is printed in small batches and this enables me to constantly update itóto make small changes as time and circumstances permit. In this way, the idea of a ďnew editionĒ must be put in context as it differs from other books which are printed in large lots and not changed at all until the next edition. I donít think itís right to exclude material which is relevant if I have it done and can integrate it into the book. Many people call or write wondering about when to buy an update. My advise is not to wait, but to use the power of time to your advantage and get goingómemorizing this central source, a process which requires multiple reads. I would certainly update if your edition is more than one or two editions off. I would probably not update for just one edition off but would then strongly consider Audio Blue or Audio RedóBig Blue and Big Red on audio tape or CDs. With the Boards being so competitive and the scoring so difficult, small competitive advantages, in my view, are worth it as they often make the difference between success and failure. I have worked with many people who fail by very small margins. This can heartbreaking.
Written Question Course - Format: The Written course is a question-answer testing format. You will take several hundred questions in a testing situation. I discuss the answers to the questions. The questions are not distributed, but a complete syllabus of the answers and related information is provided.
Written Course - Start and Stop times: We will start meetings at 0800 and end promptly at noon on the final day. Generally, sessions run each day from 0800-1800, except the final day which ends at noon so those needing to catch flights can do so. The air traffic system slows down considerably after about 1600 on Sunday so one should try to catch flights around 1400 or even a bit earlier on Sunday.
Written course - Syllabus: A complete syllabus is provided at the Written course. We donít send this in advance as we are often making late changes. The syllabus can be picked up the night before the course or the day of (we prefer the night before) at a pre-assigned place in the hotel. Check with the hotel operator but generally the pickup is between 7-9 pm outside of the meeting room (sometimes in the lobby). The syllabus is not for sale outside of the course. Donít lose your syllabus, it is valuable to you and difficult for us to replace.
If somehow this has not been helpful, please call my assistants line at 319-338-7800 and explain the situation on the voice mail. If you donít get a reply within 24 hours or so, please call my 800 number (800-321-7737).
Please know that I am extremely grateful and flattered to be involved in your Board preparation. Sometimes I just wish there were more hours in the day and/or that I could have another one of me in the home office at all times to help you with these important matters. I hope very much to help you beat the Beast of Boards. In that spirit, Onward to Victory!
Niels F. Jensen, M.D.