Fast-Forward to First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2014


FA 2014By Patrick Sylvester

First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is updated on a yearly basis. Have you ever wondered why? Can content related to pre-clinical medical education change that much from year-to-year? Or rather, do the book editors simply move around some of the entries and redesign the cover?

As a new member of the First Aid Team involved in the development of the upcoming edition of this resource, let me assure you that we’re doing everything to provide our readers with the best possible study tools to tackle this Step 1 exam. As a student speaking to other students here in the blog-o-sphere, I can’t stress enough how we’ve tailored the development of FA2014 to the input of students at all stages.


Wards Survival Series: Reverse Presentations in the Emergency Department


By Fady Akladios

“So, kidney stone?” asked the emergency attending.

It was my 4th day in the ED, and I was fighting every urge to say yes. The patient had right flank pain and hematuria. I wanted to present the patient’s full history as I usually would have done on the medicine floors, but it was a particularly busy night.

“Yes, it definitely sounds like it. Let’s get a CT of her abdomen,” I said. I felt relief when I saw a calcified spot at the right UPJ, but wondered to myself, “What if it were something else? Had I done this patient an injustice by not presenting the complete history and by surrendering to the hectic environment of the ED?”


Wards Survival Series: Give Your Presentation Backwards


By Luke Murray

The family medicine attending was getting impatient. Actually, everyone on the team was getting annoyed.

Under pressure, I just talked faster, “The pain doesn’t radiate, isn’t made better or worse by anything…” I wasn’t even halfway through the presentation, but I knew it was taking too long. What the heck do they want from me? I’m just following directions, right?


Mnemonic Monday: Hot Fudge Sundaes – Fuel your brain and remember your muscles!


ice cream sundaeBy Molly Lewis

I don’t know many people who don’t like ice cream, but I do know quite a few who aren’t so fond of anatomy. Upper and lower extremity anatomy can be especially hard to remember, with lots of muscles grouped into lots of compartments.

Here are a couple of mnemonics to help you remember the muscles of the posterior forearm (PS: all of these muscles are innervated by the radial nerve, or one of its branches):


Wards Survival Series: Developing your Assessment & Differential Diagnosis


wards4thEditionBy Walter Wiggins

One of the major skills you’ll be expected to develop over the course of your 3rd year of medical school is the ability to formulate an assessment and differential diagnosis (DDx).

During the first couple of months, no one will expect much from your assessment and DDx. If you miss the actual diagnosis or include some obscure things on your DDx that aren’t really plausible or likely for the diagnosis, don’t worry…you’ll get better with practice. Just focus on basic techniques for developing an initial DDx, then prioritize your prime suspects by what is most likely given the patient’s demographics, history, and presentation.

Remember: atypical presentations of common things are way more common than typical (or atypical) presentations of uncommon things.


Mnemonic Monday: Watch it Grow! Cancer Metastisis


By Molly Lewis

Cancer- the big “C” word that no patient wants to hear. What could be worse? The big M word: Metastasis! Cancer can start in the kidneys and spread to the bone, start in the colon and spread to the brain, start in the pancreas and spread to the liver, etc, etc, etc.

When you find metastatic lesions in a patient’s bone, brain, or liver, where should you look first to find the primary tumor? Here are a few mnemonics to help you remember what are the most common sources based on the site of the mets…


Surviving Your Surgery Rotation


wards4thEditionBy Molly Lewis

Sean gave some great tips in his previous post, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure – Surviving Your Surgery Rotation. Follow his advice, and you will be well on your way to success on your surgery rotation. I’ve got some tips and tricks to add to help you survive your surgery rotation.


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