Resources for Pain Medicine Board Preparation

This is a guest post by G.C., MD Pain Medicine

Preparing for the ABMS Pain Medicine Certification Exam can be a daunting task. “What resources should I use”? and “Where should I devote my time” are on every student’s mind.

Though passing the exam may feel like a difficult feat, utilizing a proper study plan combined with the right resources will help you succeed.

While I was preparing for the Pain Medicine exam, I used four different resources for Pain Medicine board preparation. Here are my suggestions:

Board Review Self-Assessment by Laxmaiah Manchikanti, M.D. and Andrea M. Trescot, M.D.

This Pain Medicine and Interventional Pain Management Board Review Self-Assessment contains over 1500 questions and answers that will help a student prepare for the pain medicine board certification exam.  Following the format of the questions on the ABMS exam these questions include comprehensive answers for each question so the student can assess their own strengths.  This self-assessment guide covers the curriculum found in Volume I:  Foundations of Pain Medicine and Interventional Pain Management:  A Comprehensive Review and Volume II:  Clinical Aspects of Pain Medicine and Interventional Pain Management:  Comprehensive Review.

Pros: Content is specific to the ABMS exam format and offers quite a few questions.

Cons: Expensive textbook that takes a while to ship and there are a few typos.

Suggestion: Buy it

BoardVitals Pain Medicine Question Bank

The BoardVitals website offers test takers a pain medicine board review interactive experience.  The site is strictly pain medicine questions with detailed explanations and learning tips.  The questions are based on both the ABPM and ABA certification content.  The site offers a timed mode and a dashboard to give you a great idea of how you are doing compared to the national average.  

Pros: Most relevant resource I used for the boards (which is why I offered to write this post for them). High quality questions that were very similar to the real exam.

Cons: There are ~750 questions. I could have used more.

Suggestion: Buy it for one month (you should be able to get through all of the questions in a few weeks)  

Essentials of Pain Medicine (3rd Ed.) by Honorio Benzon, M.D., Srinivasa N. Raji, Soctt M. Fishman, M.D., Spencer Liu, M.D., Steven P. Cohen

This pain management book covers both theory and practice of pain medicine including local anesthetics, pain medicines, regional anesthesia, and nerve block techniques.  The book is designed as an easy to read brief reference guide.  It contains over 230 diagrams, illustrations and charts.  The new edition also includes topical areas such as imaging in pain medicine, radiation safety, pain management in the emergency room, intraarticular and intraperitoneal use of opioids as well as geriatric pain, hospice pain, and pregnancy issues.  The third edition has been improved with the authors adding information on discography, IDET, vertebroplasty, and neuraxial blocks among other new topics.

Pros: Great reference material. Liked the layout and it was easy to find material.

Cons:  This is not really a board review book. It’s good to have around for reference, but I wouldn’t use it as a study guide.

Suggestion: Buy it for reference. If you’re focused strictly on cramming for the boards or re-certs, don’t buy it.

Pain Management Secrets (3rd Ed.) by Andrew Dubin, Julie Pilitsis, Charles E. Argoff, M.D., Gary McCleane, M.D.

Pain Management Secrets is part of the “Secret” series and will assist students in preparing for the Board Examination.  The book includes the “Top 100 Secrets” in pain management in a two page color layout that is portable.  There are questions and answers, mnemonics, and tables to aid in studying.  This book is a handy take-along book that is pocket size.

Pros: Easy to study on the go (I took it with me while studying)

Cons: It’s really basic. Some of the content is incredibly obvious.

Suggestion: Pass on this one unless you really need to brush up on the basics.

Whether you have just started studying or only have a few weeks to go, it’s recommended to purchase Board Review Self-Assessment and practice with the Pain Medicine Question Bank from BoardVitals. I found them to be the most valuable and time effective resources for the exam.

Good luck!

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