Miscellaneous

A Message from the Editor

By Walter Wiggins

I want to first thank Dr. Jaysson Brooks for his leadership as the Editor of the First Aid/USMLE-Rx Web Team this past year. I’d also like to thank Dr. Tao Le for giving me the opportunity to take the helm for the coming year. My hope is that we will continue bettering our efforts to serve your needs and maybe provide a little entertainment along the way. I want to start by informing you, our readers, of a few changes that we’ll be making this year in an effort to improve the quality of our outreach on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

First, as you may have noticed already, we will now be presenting sample questions from Qmax for Step 1 and Step 2 CK as challenges. Please check back the day after for an update from our team with the answer and explanation. We hope this will give everyone a better chance to test his or her knowledge. In an effort to simplify things, we will also be posting the questions directly to Facebook. So, if you follow us there, you won’t have to link through to the blog to see the question.

Second, the Web Team exists as an outreach for First Aid & USMLE-Rx, as a whole. Part of being an “outreach” is interacting in a meaningful way with those to whom you are reaching out (in our case, the First Aid/USMLE-Rx customer base). This year, in an effort to improve meaningful interaction, we will have guest posts from the Senior Editors of the First Aid series keeping you informed of their progress in revising and updating our books. These posts will also serve as a platform for you to provide feedback in the form of comments and suggestions for the next edition of the books undergoing revision this year. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help your colleagues, the future readers of the First Aid series.

Third, we understand that a lot of our readers are current or future international medical graduates (IMGs). Therefore, we are making a concerted effort to recruit an IMG author to write about issues encountered by IMGs applying to US residency programs. Please keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts addressing IMG-specific concerns.

Finally, if you have any additional suggestions as to ways we at the First Aid Team can serve you better, please provide them in the comments below.

Cheers,

Categories: Miscellaneous

8 replies »

  1. Excited to see the innovation and social media outreach efforts. But I have feedback about the books. Honestly, does medical knowledge radically change from year to year? Research does, but fundamentals don’t. It’s hard to justify buying a more expensive 2013 vs. 2012 if nothing but content changes. But the DELIVERY of that content can always evolve and improve. I hope that improvement of FA’s key products, not just more features, is a main focus under fresh leadership. Quality over quantity!

    While FA 2012 brought color and an improved layout, a quick trip to Amazon reviews reveals simple things that should be improved in FA 2013.

    First, accuracy. The amount of errata is shameful, given FA’s reputation and market dominance. I hope the responsibility of training future physicians (and the fate of many careers) is taken more seriously. Time should NOT be spent downloading PDFs and correcting the text; it should be spent studying correct and up-to-date information. Imagine the disappointment of finding an error in 2013 that was errata from 2012! Apparently 2012 had errors that were errata’d in 2011 and prior… If ANY effort is spent on ANYTHING between now and 2013, it should be to make the new text as error-free as possible. That is worth more than any other feature FA can offer – making it the trustworthy reference it should be.

    Second, cohesiveness. Content listed in the index should absolutely be in the core pages, but sometimes this is not so (even medium- to high-yield sections). Also, formatting issues are not acceptable. Content is one thing, but to publish and sell with those mistakes is not okay.

    Third, quality hardware. Please select solid paper material that withstands use, highlighting, and ink without bleeding or damage.

    These books should maximize studying capability, and there should be NO aspect of the consumer (student) experience that detracts from that. FA Team has much control over this experience, and frankly the past years have fallen short of what it could be. Please make FA 2013 the best Step 1 prep tool ever!

    Much appreciation from a future customer.

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  2. Erik,

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful input. I will make sure this is seen by the folks heading up the 2013 revision of FA for Step 1. As you may have seen in Dr. Tao Le’s recent update on this blog, we had significant issues with last year’s book that we are working diligently to correct in the upcoming revision. Some of the issues you mention are managed at the publisher level, which I assure you, Dr. Le is doing everything he can to make sure those are correct.

    Regarding the “changing of medical knowledge”, we don’t revise our books to reflect a change in knowledge so much as a change in emphasis. All of our contributing authors have recently experienced the subject of their writing (Step 1, 2 CK, Wards…you name it). Thus, their goal is to modify the book to more accurately reflect the emphasis of the USMLE exam (or clinical rotations) that they experienced. For example, in recent years, antibiotic resistance and bird flu have shown up more on these exams than in years past. The goal of frequent revisions is to make sure we’re up-to-date on the content of the exam with a focus on the high-yield content, not necessarily the entire scope of medical knowledge.

    If I haven’t addressed something you’d like to hear our perspective on, please feel free to continue the conversation. I’ll do my best to provide answers where I can.

    Best of luck to you in your medical career,
    Walter

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  3. Wow these guys deleted my old comments! Afraid of all the negativity huh? The least you guys can do is not delete comments that a student posts, revealing the large volume of errors in this ridiculous book.

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  4. As both a US medical student and a contributing author for this coming year’s First Aid for the Step 1, (2013), I can speak to both the frustrations of having to use an errata, and to the fact that every year, changes are made to the book, and painstaking efforts are taken to assure that errors aren’t propagated between issues. That said, it’s a complicated process, and errors do make it through. One of the most laudable points is that FA as a series goes to efforts to make its flaws apparent, without covering up the fact that errors happen. I personally much prefer the errata to no errata. Trust me as a colleague when I say that I have come across just as many, if not more, errors in other review books, and even in journal articles and textbooks! It’s very unfortunate, and even more so when one realizes that most of the audience (medical students/future doctors) may operate unaware of the “quality” (read as accuracy) of the materials that they use to study. I believe that the FA series will continue to be the strongest resource out there for board prep because of it’s dedicated and credentialed team, which works to both improve its product while acknowledging their faults and owning up to their mistakes for the sake of their customer base. As a final point, I would like to emphasize the need to cross-check sources, and to avoid the folly of using one source. We will be doctors soon enough, and owe it to our current/future patients to be more than faithful readers. Regards, AG

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  5. The way people try to justify the numerous number of mistakes in the 2012 edition doesn’t do any good. I’m sorry but thats not an excuse at all. No doubt the errata is helpful but first aid benefitted their usmlerx company more than anyone else by including an errata every year. Had they not added an errata list, students would have boycotted first aid years ago.

    P.S. Trust me, I have no intention of using FA as a primary source lol.

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  6. Alejandro Gener:

    As both a US medical student and a contributing author for this coming year’s First Aid for the Step 1, (2013), I can speak to both the frustrations of having to use an errata, and to the fact that every year, changes are made to the book, and painstaking efforts are taken to assure that errors aren’t propagated between issues. That said, it’s a complicated process, and errors do make it through. One of the most laudable points is that FA as a series goes to efforts to make its flaws apparent, without covering up the fact that errors happen. I personally much prefer the errata to no errata. Trust me as a colleague when I say that I have come across just as many, if not more, errors in other review books, and even in journal articles and textbooks! It’s very unfortunate, and even more so when one realizes that most of the audience (medical students/future doctors) may operate unaware of the “quality” (read as accuracy) of the materials that they use to study. I believe that the FA series will continue to be the strongest resource out there for board prep because of it’s dedicated and credentialed team, which works to both improve its product while acknowledging their faults and owning up to their mistakes for the sake of their customer base. As a final point, I would like to emphasize the need to cross-check sources, and to avoid the folly of using one source. We will be doctors soon enough, and owe it to our current/future patients to be more than faithful readers. Regards, AG

    Thank you for your support, Alejandro. It’s great to have you on the team! As most of us realize, errata lists exist for everything from software to textbooks to how-to guides. Errata are posted for textbooks used at MIT, Standord, Dartmouth, and more. Even the AMA and the U.S. Government publish errata to supplement their published documents and books. Sometimes errors occur at the editoral level and other times they occur at the publisher level. In many instances, students are not even aware that errata exist for their textbooks. Here at First Aid, we openly publish errata on our own site in order to ensure that students have the highest quality study materials possible. We are also working hard to ensure that the 2013 edition of First Aid provides students with a high-yield study reference.

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  7. Okay so I do admit my posts have been slightly harsh. Although I still agree that the number of mistakes are annoying, and that I won’t use first aid as my primary source, I think it’s important to mention that I am benefitting a lot from first aid at the same time so I have to give credit where credit is due. First aid is helpful for recalling facts and memorizing what you already know. My advice to anyone using this edition is to make sure you get most of the errata down, use first aid to memorize 96% of the material. The rest of the 4% should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyways thank you for producing this book. It’s very helpful, despite the long errata.

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