Absite Smackdown! · Episode 55: What To Do With The Time Until Next Absite


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Dr. Kashmer: Hi, and welcome back to the Absite Smackdown! podcast. Today, Jessica Rizzo is back with us, and today's topic is all about how you have a whole year to study and practice for the Absite. Jessica, how are you doing today?


Jessica: I'm great. How are you Dr. David?


Dr. Kashmer: Hey, I'm doing great. I'm settled in, I've got my cup of water here. I am ready to go for this podcast and I think it's really timely for this one that you guys selected the topic for. So where do we go with it?


Jessica: Okay, well, you have a whole year. So, you know, the last couple months we've just been focused on you're cramming. You're getting ready. The test is coming. Well, the test came. It's over and now we have a year. So rather than focusing on all the last minute stuff that we're cramming in there…you & the water. I always thought that was coffee! So thanks for giving us a shout out on what you're actually drinking for all of us wondering.

So now you have a whole year. And so what can we do in that year? You know, setting up a plan and going about that plan so that we can feel ready when this time rolls around next year, you know, instead of just shoving it all in. How can we do it? So what are your thoughts?


Dr. Kashmer: Well, you know, the previous podcast episode was: “Hey, you took the test. You don't feel great about it.” So whether you do or don't feel great about what just happened, I think it's important to give yourself a little break. Now, just take like a week where you're not thinking about the Absite, read what you like or what you have to, or what is required by your general surgery residency, but probably no Absite prep for just a little bit. That's my two cents. I would start with that and then I'd quickly move into the longer term stuff associated with your success on your surgery board exam and your Absite. You know, take a minute to look at the links that we've set up in the other podcasts. You know, the available data on what's associated with performance. Doing a lot of questions is associated with improved performance over not doing a lot of questions.

Questions alone don't get you there, don't get me wrong. You have to actually kind of know the stuff, not just the questions, but, that's important. Timing, you know, whether you schedule a vacation in that month of the Absite, depending on how important it is for you, to have a vacation without studying versus one with study, you know, take some time to read about the things associated with performance for your Absite score. it's just kind of easy and interesting. And again my two cents, I'd start with that. If you haven't already, that's a good place to start off.


Jessica: Okay. So we were talking about, you just now mentioned it, how the practice questions are super helpful for Absite performance, but if you don't know the answers to the question, you can do questions all day, but if you don't know the answers, not going to help you. So if you do something where, you know, whether it's our book or whatever you're using to study you could break it down. We have a whole year. So you could take the book, break it down by section and after each section, do the questions and exam review. But if you do that, as you get towards the end, how are you going to remember all this stuff in the beginning? General Surgery is a big topic. And we were talking about that earlier, about how people forget or remember. And so can you go over that just a little bit because I think it's super helpful.


Dr. Kashmer: Yeah, sure. There's something called the forgetting curve. That's the nickname, but it's the idea of intermittent reinforcement. You know, the idea for this surgical education thing is you're learning it for life. This is going to be for your practice, not really just the Absite exam in your residency program. So it's important to learn something and then intermittently reinforce it. And to that end, I think integrating your study into your daily life is key. Having things be reinforced intermittently is key, and we offer a couple of ways to do that with the book and the way you all have set it up for surgical residents. And there are other ways to do it too. Don't get me wrong. the video lectures, you know, you can listen to it in the car, same with the podcast. You're not going to watch a video lecture in the car. I hope that you can listen to it.


Dr. Kashmer: And the audio lectures that are free, put out as podcasts, those reviews are useful. So like you said, a good study plan. I think we'll leave time at the end for review, maybe a month or two at the end. And then the rest of the time break up Absite study either via, you know, chapters in the Absite Smackdown book or another book or whatever. The SCORE curriculum is fantastic too. You're probably going to be doing that as part of your residency. But remember SCORE curriculum is set up to go over a full residency, usually about five years, but aligning it with SCORE can be good. And, having it go by section and then, in each section doing questions as you go that align with that section and looking at the examination review lectures associated with that section can be super useful and using things like the Instagram account that, is free content, putting in a little bit of other fun things like the coloring book, which is just a sort of relaxed. You're not going to learn that many new facts, but you're relaxing. You'll pick up a couple of facts. The crossword puzzle book can be fun. It doesn't have to just be the products that you all have put out, but just designing it in a way that you're going by topic, spreading it over time, doing questions and intermittently reviewing with some time to review again at the end, I think that's the key that's that leverages the forgetting curve, that intermittent reinforcement curve, the best.


Jessica: And this isn't a shameless plug, even though we are talking about some of the things that we do. Just for example, you talked about the Instagram account. We do an @daily.absite.fact every single day, except for on Sundays on Sundays, when we do #AbsiteAnywhere. That's where we get pictures from people, what they're out doing, and it kind of shows that, you know, you're grinding, you're grinding, you're grinding, but even on the day when you are supposed to kind of relax or decompress, you can still take the books, take your studying, and take anything with you so that you stay focused. You can multitask it, get the relaxation in. And so that's why I love #AbsiteAnywhere on Sunday, Sunday study, because we had all the interesting pictures and it kind of reminds you almost like take time for yourself too, but still stay on task with what you're supposed to do. And so I personally just love that. I'm not trying to shamelessly plug. I just, I think that's just a nice thing that we do.


Dr. Kashmer: Of course, if, you know, if we didn't like what we created, we wouldn't be here and we created it to solve a problem. You guys were nice enough to help me build it out to solve the problems that I had as a resident. And that was fantastic. And one of those things is, as we become professionals in surgery, to sort out how we work studying into our daily lives. You know, things are going to change with every textbook. This is another classic stat: every textbook is about four years out of date by the time it's published, because that's how long it takes to percolate through faculty and become a textbook. So things are going to change in general surgery residency and the field of Surgery. Things like the robot have come about since I've trained and all these different things. And if you're going to keep up to date on the new literature you have to have a way to integrate that.


Dr. Kashmer: So one of the big questions to solve that surgery residency helps you solve is how do you study for the Absite with limited time in a way that's meaningful and not just cramming. And one of the ways to do that is one of these products, whether it's ours or someone else's, but doing it over time and doing it in a convenient way. You can do a review course. Some people can travel for one, some places have a virtual one once a year now. One of the nice features of Absite Smackdown! is you can do it over time and leverage the forgetting curve better. We're going to obviously have a new edition coming out fairly soon with new videos that are updated. It's been great to do but tiring. Really good to do. And I think they've improved a lot on the first version of the video course.


Dr. Kashmer: And I think that'll help people even better, to use everything and learn over time and, you know, do it on the drive to work. Like you always say...which can be really helpful. So I'm looking forward to that. But of course, if we didn't like what we made, we wouldn't be here. So I get what you're saying. It's not a shameless plug. There are plenty of products out there. And of course SCORE for a surgery resident is fantastic too. None of this is meant to replace the SCORE curriculum in general surgery residency. So I don't think we can say that, you know, often enough.


Jessica: Yeah. I just think though with the way we utilize social media...but when we're constantly posting, you're looking outside, you're doing a new edition. I think that what we've talked about goals to do a new edition almost every year. So obviously we're not four years behind if that's happening. I love seeing the robots and all the interesting things. And I think that surgery residents definitely have kind of one up then you had when you were a resident on how they learn and taking information and not getting behind because there are so many outlets now that brings studying, bring the information to them and they have access to that. Like, and not just with ours, I know we say that all the time, but you can listen to it anywhere.


Dr. Kashmer: That's, I mean, isn't that the whole point, right? Try to leave at one better than what you had when it comes to exam scores and clinical knowledge and Medicine. And you know, it's really cool. I don't know if you've heard this before, but it turns out that there is more information made now every year, in fact, every couple months...there's more new information now in a couple months or a year than there was in the entire history of the world before now. That's a crazy fact. Between big data, the ability to call geographic data from our phones, you know, geolocation data...there is more data and information now created than there was in the entire history of civilization before. Now, we're almost drowning in it. They say "data is the new oil". That's a classic statement because data is so valuable now. And they say the data that we give to Google is worth at least $600 or $700.


Dr. Kashmer: You know, our patient health information is worth about 60 dollars per record because our, the implants we may have, or the medications we're on don't change quickly. So our health data is very valuable. Similarly, these new ways to use data like the platform developed for Absite Smackdown! that lets you study any time is super valuable because one of the things we have to teach that we don't teach much is how to process so much more data and evaluate what we are going to accept in a critical way. That is a fairly new problem. Or let's say not a new problem, but a more immediate problem than ever existed before now. It's just unbelievable to me. It's just unbelievable.


Jessica: Right Because there was a period of time where learning was all very set in stone, like the same books where you use the same methods were taught for a very long time. And now just within the last couple of years...so much new information, so many new things to learn in a completely different world. And so, going back to the entire topic of this, you know...you have a year from now to get ready and get prepped again. It's really important to realize how you learn because there's all different types of ways related to how people learn and take information now. Creating a study plan, making sure that you have the right thing to get the information, whether it's our book or the SCORE curriculum (or both) anything that you use that you're getting using social media and making that plan...you have a year from now. You can work according to what works best for you.


Dr. Kashmer: You're right. I got us pretty far afield, but I appreciate you bringing it back. You do--you have a whole year. And in that year you can really build a study plan around things like the forgetting curve. We know how it works. We know how we forget stuff. We know that forgetting in some ways is useful. You would just never be able to make a decision. If you had everything buzzing around in your head, it would be analysis paralysis or information paralysis. So forgetting can be a blessing, but in terms of the stuff, you need to be a good surgeon and the stuff you need to do have a great Absite performance,you can design a plan now around the forgetting curve, you can integrate it into your day.


Dr. Kashmer: We have the LinkedIn account, we have the Facebook account, we have this podcast, you can leverage all those things and take the opportunity to design a good plan up front. You know, there's a famous line that "A good plan today that's well-executed is more valuable than a perfect plan tomorrow." So don't wait four months to realize "Wow, the Absite--I guess that's coming around again." Just take the time now and make a reasonable plan. And you know, if you didn't think before all about the forgetting curve and Absite performance, along with the studies that say doing practice questions from a question bank is useful for the examination technologies...well, now you know about them! So you can integrate them together and have a good plan today that you can start to execute. That will get you a lot further than just kind of sitting around and waiting until you remember it and saying, "Oh yeah, it's coming up in a couple months. I better do something."


Jessica: Right, exactly. By the way, I don't know if anybody else notices, but Dr. David wears a t-shirt under his coat all the time. And just for you guys, aren't going to know I'm a Green Bay fan. I'm going to say that I want to show us that T shirt.


Dr. Kashmer: First off, I want to say I don't wear a t-shirt all the time at work. I do it for the podcast. I don't usually wear it all the time, but as a proud Tampa Bay fan, I have a Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirt. I watched, Jameis Winston for years and the Bucs and even before him. And so, I had mixed feelings when Tom Brady came to town because I thought, well, you know, this experiment's been tried with older quarterbacks toward the end of their career. Joe Montana, and your Bret Farve, they've gone to these places and it hasn't been the same. Hey, but the year turned out pretty good for the Bucs. So it's a good year to be a Bucs fan. And, I mean, COVID is tough, but playing the Super Bowl in your hometown, I mean, just a fantastic year. Can't complain, you know, can't complain, but feel bad for you that you're a Green Bay fan. Good luck next year.


Jessica: It was rough. It was a rough game. I feel like we need to make this a thing. People don't get to see that you always have a good t-shirt. Not this week. I'm not going to say good t-shirt this week. You have some great t-shirts that we don't get to see.


Dr. Kashmer: It's like my secret. It's like my secret in the podcast...my podcast garb is, like you said, it's a white coat and a t-shirt of some kind that might be ironic. They're always kind of funny. It's kind of like my secret on the podcast, but now you've outed me. So is what it is, but I'm gonna keep doing it.


Jessica: Awesome. All right. Thanks again for being here today. And you know, again, guys, it's a year. You have a year! Make a plan and it doesn't have to be perfect. Recognize how you study, how you learn, find your information again. Use the forgetting curve. And any final words from you, Dr. David?


Dr. Kashmer: No, you know, it's a time of excitement because no matter how you just did on the Absite, you have a big opportunity in front of you to prep for the next year. You can pick your materials. There are lots of good options out there. We look to revise and improve ours every year across the board, whether that's the coloring book to just kind of take a little anxiety out of it and relax, or the crossword puzzle book or the main Absite Smackdown! book. I appreciate you guys letting me kind of constantly improve that every year based on feedback. So regardless of what you use, use something. Make a plan. And hopefully some of the info in this podcast, like the forgetting curve, will help you build that plan.


Jessica: Okay. Right. All right, guys. Thanks for tuning in! And again, remember #AbsiteSmackdown!



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