Best Practices for Students

Pro Tips on USMLE-Rx

Neil Bhavsar


February 28, 2019

This video and transcript have been edited for clarity.

Neil Bhavsar: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Medscape Medical Students series Best Practices. We're sitting down with Dr Tao Le from USMLE-Rx. Today we'll be talking about USMLE-Rx, a question-based resource from the group that brought you First Aid. Thanks so much, Dr Tao Le, for sitting down with us.

Tao Le, MD: Neil, nice to be here.

Bhavsar: Can you tell us a little bit about the philosophies behind USMLE-Rx?

Le: USMLE-Rx is a question bank and flashcards with videos. It's the only resource developed by the authors of First Aid, so it has a lot of the same high-yield philosophies that First Aid has. It's really "everything that you need to know to do well on the USMLE" and nothing else. One of the key things about the First Aid philosophy—and they use various philosophies—is that it's completely student driven.

Everything in USMLE-Rx is driven by students. Hundreds, if not thousands, of students by now have provided some of their wisdom, their experiences, and what they learned the hard way about doing well on the boards. They're passing it on to the next generations of students. I've been "the adult in the room" since I've been around with First Aid and other useful apps for many years now, but it's really the student authors and the student editors who decide what's really high-yield. They then communicate that very directly in a student-to-student way. Obviously, students understand what others can benefit from.

So that's a little bit about our philosophy. It's very exciting because you have students who just took the boards contributing. The exams are kind of shifting, and that's how we keep current.

Bhavsar: That kind of segues into my next question: What not to do when using USMLE-Rx?

Le: The one thing that you shouldn't do is skip the explanations to the wrong answers, even if you got that question right. Let's say it's a question about somebody who presents with some sort of dyspnea issue. There are a lot of things that can cause shortness of breath. Maybe the answer is asthma, but it could have been COPD or a restrictive lung disease or some sort of interstitial lung disease. You still want to take time to read through why the other answer wasn't the correct answer. We go into a lot of detail about why asthma was correct but why interstitial lung disease or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) was incorrect. Because, on the board, they may give you a question where asthma is a distractor but IPF is the correct answer. Now you know in what situations IPF is the correct answer. There's a lot of learning in USMLE-Rx in the explanations. So don't skip those. Those are all learning nuggets for you.

Bhavsar: That sounds like excellent advice. I'm sure medical school communities are definitely very excited that you decided to join us on the best practices. Do you have any final points that you want to make to the medical community?

Le: Obviously, you know that medical school is a tough thing. There's a lot of learning to be done. Whether you use First Aid or USMLE-Rx or any other resources, try to integrate everything you're doing. Because on the boards, they are trying to integrate all of those concepts. The better you can integrate the pathology, the physiology, the clinical presentation, the diagnosis, the clinical management, the better you're going to do on the exam and the better type of physician you will be. That's a practical nugget that I think applies, regardless of whatever resource you're using.

The last thing I would say is that, going back to the philosophy of First Aid and USMLE-Rx, this is community driven. This is a group of students who have gotten together to try to help other students. We very much believe in paying it forward. So if you have feedback for us, if you have ways that you think we can should improve these resources from a student perspective, please share them with us. We try our best to make sure that the student voice is elevated and heard by other students, so thank you.

Bhavsar: Thanks so much for sitting down with Medscape, Dr Le. Everyone else, definitely check out our other video. See you next time.

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