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My PANRE Advice

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I just wanted to pass on some advice that I wish someone had given me before I started to study months ago. I just took the PANRE 3 days ago and learned today that I passed with a decent margin. What makes this so important is that, with the exception of 6 months out of school, I've worked in a specialty (dermatology no less) for my entire career. I had neglectfully not stayed up to date on primary care issues. If it didn't have to do with dermatology, I didn't care. I took Pathway II the first time around, but as you know, that's been phased out.


Here's what happened to me - stick with this story to the end because you'll see that how I started out is not what I now realize was the best plan:


Two to three months ago I signed up for the Kaplan online test bank. I worked through probably half of the questions, taking notes along the way. The "strength" of Kaplan is in the answers they provide. They give good detail as to why an answer may be correct or incorrect. The "weakness" of Kaplan is that it is not arranged according to the NCCPA "blueprint". It's literally a question bank for USMLE. I figured this out in researching a number of questions. Google the details of many of their questions and the results will bring you to various USMLE question banks. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good information in there, but I found that too often I was questioning whether such level of detail or "zebra" coverage was appropriate to the PANRE.


Concurrently, while doing Kaplan, I was working through Emory University's recertification CD/DVD course. The "strength" of it is that you can get quite a bit of CME hours if you complete it and submit the post-test. The "weakness" of Emory's program is that, although billed as a "PANCE/PANRE review", probably 80% of the speakers approach it from a "clinical" review perspective. In other words, they disregard the "book knowledge" part of the topic and instead focus on clinical skills, tips, and "pearls" appropriate for real-life practice. Trust me, if you don't think there's a difference between the "real world/clinical skills" approach to a topic and an "academic/test-taking" approach to a topic, believe me...there is. And when you take the PANRE, they will be asking for the "academic" approach. Emory's program does have one positive that I really did like, though, as their Heart Sounds and Cardiology lecture speaker was excellent (as were the very few others that took the above into consideration).


So fast forward to last week. Months ago I had scheduled to take the PANRE last Friday. Knowing this, and knowing how much I had to focus on studying (remember, I work in dermatology and have done so for over 12 years), I decided to take off last week so that I could just lock myself inside and study every day of the week prior to taking the test. When last week rolled around, despite doing the Emory program and also reviewing quite a bit of Kaplan's program, my gut was telling me that neither program was really focusing on the task at hand...that being, the PANRE test.


So, I desperately looked around online and came across UMDNJ PA Program's online review course and rolled the dice on it. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did! Unlike the other two programs, they make no bones about clearly stating that they are there to review the NCCPA blueprint topics only, and at that, to specifically cover what the test wants you to know.


As previously stated, I learned today that I passed. I have no doubt that the UMDNJ program helped. Of all the resources I used, it provided the most efficient coverage of information relevant to the PANRE. In the end, my advice isn't necessarily that you must use their program. The main point is that you should 1) follow the NCCPA "blueprint" or use a study program that strictly adheres to it and 2) you focus on the "academic" part of every topic...because that's what's covered on the PANRE.


Were there still "zebras" and other unusually obscure questions on the PANRE? Of course there were, and believe me, like most trying to recertify I was left scratching my head on a number of questions. But in the end, the "bread and butter" of the PANRE is testing your knowledge of the relatively classic presentations of the "blueprint" problems and the "gold standards" of diagnosis and treatment for those problems (even if the "gold standard" conflicts with medicine as it's actually practiced).


Anyway, that's my two cents. Good luck to all about to deal with the PANRE in the near future.



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Tim, Thanks for the review. Like you, I have been in specialties since graduating in 1993 and have been in Derm for the last 10 years. I have always done Pathway II, and need to re-cert by 2012. I will look into the course you recommend.


Thanks for your post.

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