This is a review of the Family Medicine Study Guide app for Family Medicine Board Review.
For all medical specialties, initial board certification followed by maintenance of certification is a reality that can produce significant anxiety, not to mention some non-insignificant financial outlays. The American Board of Family Medicine was one of the first specialty boards to mandate maintenance of certification (MOC) and it has become a big business for the specialty boards.
The maintenance of certification process allows for periodic examination of a specialty board’s members. In family medicine, this is typically 7-10 years between certification exams. When the time comes to take or retake the certification exam, family physicians currently have a multitude of options for board review.
Options currently available include: materials completed the during MOC process (Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs), CME quizzes available through the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) including those in their journal, The American Family Physician, attend a board review course offered by state or national family medicine organizations, purchase a CD-ROM of questions from various medical and educational organizations, practice for the exam using the official ABFM app or review questions from board review books (such as Swanson’s) or other Family Medicine Board Review apps. The options are nearly limitless, but few have been studied or proven to improve success on the certification exam.
In fact, the ABFM discourages the use of preparing for the exam by studying questions alone. They regularly report outcomes on the exam at the annual Program Directors Workshop and state time and again that those who only prepare via completing board review questions do worse than those who have a robust reading program as part of their preparation plan.
We have reviewed several Family Medicine Board Review apps in the past. Specifically, I reviewed the outstanding NEJM Knowledge Plus for Family Medicine. This Family Medicine board review app would be ideal for residents about to take boards for the first time or seasoned faculty preparing to recertify. However, the Family Medicine board review app ranges in price from $350 for residents, students, fellows to $599 for practicing physicians. That could be a barrier for many–especially students and residents who are looking to supplement the many resources they have available already for free. One of the more recent entries is the Family Medicine Study Guide by Dr Daniel Leger at Western University in Ontario, Canada.
This app is designed as a “study buddy” for students, residents, midlevels and junior faculty working in primary care. The app also differs from the many multiple choice question apps. This app utilizes active learning techniques in which the user must type out their answers. It includes over 50 short answer cases, 234 short answer questions, numerous pearls, 50 rapid fire questions, a 99 topic checklist and links to all of the major Canadian clinical practice guidelines. Proceeds from the app will be used to maintain/update the app with the rest donated to charities, according to the authors.
Evidence based medicine
The Family Medicine Study Guide app is a fairly comprehensive overview of family medicine produced by a group of authors in a department of family medicine at a Canadian univerisity. The app includes numerous evidence based answers and links to evidence based clinical practice guidelines.
What providers would benefit from this App?
Medical students, residents, mid-levels, Family Medicine, any provider in primary care could benefit. Ideally the Family Medicine Study Guide app is suited for those preparing for taking their initial or repeat certification exams, the app still could have appeal for those simply wanting to stay current and challenge their knowledge in an active learning format.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
- Comprehensive content for primary care providers.
- Easy to use interface that is geared as a study companion.
- Cases and questions built around active learning techniques.
- Ability to take notes and flag areas for further review/study.
- Some may not like the lack of multiple choice questions.
- Not in a format of ABFM exam, but it is from Canada after all.
- No easy way to track overall progress/success in the app.
An excellent board review resource for students, residents and other primary care providers looking for an alternative to expensive board review courses and other textbook based methods of review. This family medicine board review app challenges by not using a multiple choice format, but rather a short answer, written format. The Canadian focus may make it less applicable to US students, but most of the material should be easily used by anyone in primary care regardless of country of origin.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Useful and intuitive interface.
- Multimedia Usage
Links to many resources from within the app including major guidelines in Canada.
Reasonably priced for the content especially compared to other apps and courses.
- Real World Applicability
Great resource for anyone interested in a comprehensive study guide for family medicine.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6S running iOS 9.2
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad