An Introduction to Clinical Practice Guidelines – What They Are and Why You Should Care

clinical practice guidelines

Clinical practice guidelines are essentially the Wikipedia of the medical world and are important to students for a number of reasons:

  1. Guidelines save you time, by saving you from reviewing thousands of articles
  2. Guidelines can help you study and perform well on clinical rotations
  3. Guidelines are important for CME/keeping up your license
  4. Guidelines help protect you from litigation and may be tied to reimbursement

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Get a Top Score on the MCAT for Less Than $300


Many MCAT prep companies will try to sell you on the idea that you need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a fancy prep course with all its bells and whistles in order to get a top score on the MCAT, but this just isn’t the case. We carefully analyzed the experiences of students that scored above the 95th percentile on the MCAT and looked for patterns in their preparation, and our analysis revealed that the students who performed well weren’t necessarily the students who spent the most money on a prep course. In actuality, top scorers use a variety of low-cost resources. And this actually makes perfect sense. Think about it. Every MCAT prep company has a single (likely slightly inaccurate) perspective regarding the most important concepts to know for the MCAT. By preparing using a variety of materials, you will gain several perspectives on the material, which when combined together provide you with a much more accurate picture of the MCAT.

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Improve Your CARS Reading Speed by Quickly Finding the Main Idea

The CARS section of the MCAT Exam can be really scary. It’s not that you don’t know how to read. The problem is that you don’t know how to read critically, and that’s a whole different way of analyzing a passage. Trying to decipher a CARS passage with the same skills that you use to read a science text is like trying to play tennis with a golf club. You need different tools, and the first tool you need to help you read faster and have a clear understanding of a passage is a basic knowledge of Rhetoric.

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How To Keep Calm and Succeed on the DAT

DAT Week

This article originally ran on ASDA’s blog, Mouthing Off, on July 20, 2016.

Is the DAT stressing you out? You’re not alone. Preparing for the DAT is probably the most intimidating part of the dental school application process. But don’t get lost in counting cubes or memorizing reactions! Below are tips on how to succeed at the DAT and stay calm at the same time.

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How to Prepare for the MCAT’s Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Section

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (or CARS) section of the MCAT is occasionally placed on the backburner by prospective medical students who are focused on learning (and relearning) the information necessary for success on the science-based portions of the test. What some individuals realize too close to their exam date, however, is that the CARS section is anything but a buffer score for results in “more difficult” sections of the MCAT.

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4 New Year’s Resolutions for Pre-Medical Students

Being a pre-medical student means committing to a years-long process aimed at ultimately gaining admission to medical school. No matter how many years away you may currently be from applying, starting the new year with a resolution or two that is geared toward helping you achieve your goal of becoming a physician is a great way of ensure that you are on track. Whether you vow to finally enroll in that EMT class, or to broaden your academic horizons by taking an elective outside your major, find time to build yourself as an applicant while also maintaining a life outside of your pre-medical activities. Consider taking on one or more of the below resolutions, or craft your own to fit your academic and personal needs.

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It’s Real: The Sophomore Slump

Chronicles of a Med Student

I strolled into second year, fresh off the plane from my South American adventures and ready to hit the ground running, expecting another experience like first year. It would be smooth sailing as long as I stuck to my schedule and my friends. I was good to go. Little did I know, the “second year slump” was about to hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never before experienced such a feeling in my life—I was accustomed to challenges, pushing through whatever stood in my way, always making it through to the other side. But to be honest, few things in my prior academic experiences have challenged me as much as medical school. Before medical school, most of the challenges I faced seemed far less daunting to me than what came in the second year of medical school, even the first year of medical school. So imagine my surprise when I found myself having my first meltdown of medical school just a few weeks into my second year: Wasn’t I supposed to be good at this by now?

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How to Balance MCAT Prep with School or Work

In an ideal world, the months before an MCAT test date would be exclusively devoted to preparing for the exam. Prospective medical students would wake each morning without any obligations outside of studying. Unfortunately, the reality for most students is that MCAT prep does not occur in a vacuum separate from other responsibilities. Instead, MCAT review occurs in the context of the typically busy life of a pre-med—taking science courses, conducting research, volunteering, and applying to medical school. Finding time to adequately prepare for your MCAT test date can be challenging, but with careful planning and the tips listed here, you can squeeze MCAT prep into your schedule.

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Five Tips for Staying Healthy and Productive in School

staying healthy and productive

While your dream of getting accepted to medical school probably involves countless nights studying, hundreds of volunteer hours, and a very long application process, taking time for yourself may not always be at the top of your priority list. What many aspiring doctors tend to forget is that taking some time to relax can actually boost your productivity once you get back to work.

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Conquering Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry is a hurdle every premed must undertake. For many, it can dissuade you from pursuing your dreams of becoming a physician. This guide is here to prevent that, and instead help you come to terms with the beast commonly referred to as “orgo” or “ochem.”
First and foremost, let’s debunk a couple myths surrounding the subject.

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Study Like It’s Game Day

Preparing for an exam is the same as preparing for any other major event you might encounter. Just like a football player prepares for Friday night’s game or a pianist practices for their upcoming recital, preparation should be completed just like it is the main event. When preparing for a major exam, set the scene up like it is the day of the test.
First order of business is finding a location that is most conducive to studying for you. This might be a quiet location like the library, a place with background noise like a coffee shop, or your favorite nook on campus. Finding the correct place to study for you is very important for concentration and retention of information. If the location does not provide you with the ability to focus on your studies, then try a new place until you find what works best.

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The Top 5 Ways to Improve Your CARS Score Today

improve your CARS score

For most pre-meds taking the MCAT, the CARS section proves to be one of the biggest obstacles standing between them and admission to the medical school of their dreams. The CARS section is a highly artificial environment, unlike any test you’ve ever taken before. It can be difficult to know where to begin and what steps to take to improve your overall CARS approach. Everyone and their mother seem to have an opinion about how to do well on the CARS section, opinions that often contradict each other as often as they agree. To make matters worse, unlike the other sections of the MCAT which play to the inherent strengths of pre-meds, hardly anyone starts off with a CARS score in range of where they’d like to be on test day. Fear sets in, and the “you’re not going to get in” gremlins starting chanting their mean-spirited slogans; all because of one stinking section.

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5 Study Tips for the USMLE Step 1

1. Set a goal
As the saying goes, “being begin with the end in mind.” Before you begin preparing for the USMLE Step 1, you should consider where you are with your knowledge base and your score, as well as what your goal target score is. To determine where you are starting from, you should take a practice test. Online prediction calculators use your scores on question banks and the USMLE practice test to estimate how you will do on the actual Step 1 exam.
When setting a goal, consider that 192 is currently the minimum passing score for USMLE Step 1, and 229 was the national average in 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available). However, depending on the specialty into which you desire to match, you may have to aim for a significantly higher score. If you’re not sure what specialty you want to pursue, you’ll want to score as high as possible, though you probably want to do that anyway. This is a table summarizing average USMLE Step 1 scores by specialty in the 2014 Match.

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How to Succeed in Physiology: The Course, Step 1, and Beyond

how to succeed in physiology

Physiology is different! If you’re in the midst of learning physiology, either in a traditional or systems course, you’ve noticed that it feels different from biochemistry and anatomy. There are several reasons. First, the stakes are high, as physiology is inextricably the basis for medicine; learning physiology has long-lasting, downstream consequences for understanding pathophysiology and clinical medicine. And physiology is the underpinning for Step 1, so learning it well in your courses is essential. Second, physiology cannot be memorized (and you’re good memorizers!). Physiology must be understood, and understanding can’t be rushed. You’re learning concepts and principles, rather than isolated facts, and you’re challenged by the hierarchy of concepts, interconnections, and recurring themes. Last and oh so important, you must make peace with graphs, equations, and calculations, since they are the language of physiology. Rather than concede up front that “I don’t do graphs,” it’s best to find a system for translating the mathematical side of physiology into something intuitive that speaks to you!

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How to Use Simple Tricks to Improve Your Grades

improve your grades

Coming Prepared Everyone has a point in their lives where this happens, whether it’s high … Read more

Study Productivity: Getting the Results You Want

Posted with permission from Study Medicine Europe.

The Changing Culture of Medical Education

Transitioning to medical school is a significant change for most students; this naturally makes it a source of excitement, anxiety, stress, and even fear. Being a successful college student will not necessarily translate to success in graduate/professional school, although many of the same or similar strategies will help. Ultimately, adjusting to medical school is going to depend on the individual student and their school; each curriculum will present unique challenges and each student will handle them in a unique way. Although curricula vary among schools, some concepts are similar across the board. Perhaps the most uniform component of twenty-first century medical school curricula is the fact that they are constantly seeking to improve; thus the adage that “change is life’s only constant” seems to be true, at least of medical schools.

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