How to Pass the 2015 Internal Medicine Shelf Exam


Internal Medicine Shelf Exam

The Internal Medicine Shelf Exam is definitely one of the more difficult ones. The concepts are not particularly tricky – there aren’t many oddball Clinical presentations as the NBME tends to keep it straightforward. The difficult part of the exam is that it covers a lot of material. Primary care, Endocrinology, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, GI, Cardio, HEM/ONC are all topics that you need to know well.

Good Resources:

Study the High Yield Internal Medicine Shelf Exam Review Guide by Emma Holliday Ramahi

This High Yield IM Shelf Guide power point presentation is a GOLD MINE! We hear every year that it’s one of the more valuable resources out there for quick wins on the IM Shelf. You’ll want to go over it several times. Several key points to highlight from the document:

      • Memorize the Post-MI complications.
      • Know all of the EKG phrases. (here’s another good source (it’s not everything you need to know, but it’s a good source of some phrases that we’ve seen show up)
      • For Pulmonology, you’ll want to look at quite a few x-rays, but focus on the most common presentations. The buzzwords section in the document shows many of the basics.
      • Historically, there have been a set of Asthma and COPD questions on the exam.
      • Differential diagnostics is a major, major part of the exam. As you’re going through questions, always be thinking: diagnosis, next step, treatment.
      • Spend a good amount of time studying ECG images. Look for subtleties in the images – there may be something you’re overlooking.

There is a strong clinical bent to the exam. By now you’ve seen quite a few labs, studies, and physical exam results. It’s a good idea to think about these in relation to the internal medicine shelf practice questions as you go through them. (eg how would multiple lab values look in this particular patient scenario – what would be out of tolerance?)

Board Vitals offers over 900 Internal Medicine Shelf Exam Questions for you to practice on. The qbank focuses on the topics that are most likely to appear on the exam. We consistently hear that it’s a high yield resource.