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From The CriticsReviewer: Bryn Taylor Haws, D.O.(University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This is a board-style, multiple-choice, question-and-answer book for anatomic pathology. It is divided into two sections on general pathology and specialty specific pathology, and, because a few areas of clinical pathology overlap with the practice of anatomic pathology, a few clinical pathology topics, such as lymph node, spleen, and laboratory management, are also included.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide residents and fellows, as well as practicing pathologists, with a self-assessment guide for boards or maintenance certification exams. The book aims to increase knowledge and identify areas of weakness to help pathologists maximize and focus their study efforts. In general, there is a lack of good quality books like this for pathology. This one will be welcomed by senior level residents who are eager to see as many questions as possible before taking the board exams.
Audience: It is geared for senior level residents and fellows preparing for the anatomic pathology board examination, and it will be useful to practicing general and specialized pathologists preparing for the anatomic pathology maintenance of certification exam who have most likely not reviewed board-style questions that are not relevant for day-to-day practical purposes. The authors are on the faculty of a major academic learning center with a large number or residents and fellows and are specialists in their own fields.
Features: The best feature of this book is the way the answers provide explanations for the correct as well as incorrect choices. In most cases, more can be learned from missing a question than getting it right, and including information about each incorrect answer increases the amount of material covered. The book is well organized and easy to navigate. (Perhaps color coding the chapters would enhance quick referencing.) Overall the questions are varied, with a good mix in the level of difficulty as well as direct identification and secondary questions. Most importantly, the questions are of high quality and cover high-yield topics. For the most part, pictures are high quality, particularly figures in the cytology, endocrine, and genitourinary chapters. However, certain sections (dermatopathology and gynecology) have quite a few poor quality images that are blurry, faded, and/or have a yellow hue. Answers to questions are thorough and, in the majority of cases, explain all incorrect options as well. However, all answers are presented in a uniform paragraph format. While a core understanding of principles is the best way to understand and remember material for long-term practice, for board preparation the use of certain memorization tools can help bring an answer to mind, especially in a stressful test situation. For a book geared towards board preparation, tables, flow charts, acronyms, acrostic phrases, and peg words can help increase retention and make learning fun (or funny in certain cases). Suggested readings at the end of each section are comprehensive and a good reference tool. However, they are not cited within the body of the chapter and, therefore, most likely will not be used by readers who would be required to dig through all provided references to find the source for their specific question. Citations at the end of the answers would help to make this a useful tool. Another helpful tool would be online access to questions. A question bank that could randomize questions and provide a score at the end of the test would be valuable to create a more real-life board testing experience, with more pressure to really attempt to answer all of the questions rather than simply flipping back to the answer section and moving on. Also, randomizing questions would be beneficial as users near the end of their board preparation who could use it as a last minute guide to evaluate retention and identify areas that they may need to review.
Assessment: There are few good quality, board-style, question-and-answer books in anatomic pathology. This is a good start. Most importantly, the material it covers is high-yield, and the information is explained well. Probably the most commonly used board review book is Anatomic Pathology Board Review, Lefkowitch (Elsevier, 2006) . This new book makes a good companion and most likely will be used as a supplement by pathology residents or fellows who would like additional questions for review. Online test banks are available through ASCP's Pathologist Recertification Individualized Self-Assessment Examination (PRISE) and have the added benefit of offering both anatomic pathology and clinical pathology topics. However, these online question banks do not have as many questions, do not allow for personalized notes or highlighting of material, and can only be taken two or three times. Overall, this is a worthwhile study guide and board review for anatomic pathology.