Osler Pathology Review Course: Pathspective Review
Review of the Review: Introduction
This past October 8th through the 15th, I attended the Osler Pathology Board Review Course in Tampa, FL. This course was organized by the Osler Institute, a private company based in Terra Haute, Indiana. The company specializes in live lecture board review courses for a multitude of medical specialties, mock oral exams for surgery, and sells recorded materials of these lectures for those who forego the live lecture experience. Below is my review of the review course and general notes about the pros and cons about attending future courses.
Overview of the Osler Pathology Review Course
This course runs for a total of seven days, from Sunday to Saturday in one week. AP topics are reviewed first from Sunday to Wednesday and CP topics round out the course on Wednesday to Saturday. Wednesday lectures include AP/CP overlap topics such as Cytogenetics and Molecular Pathology. The course offers participants access to additional materials on an extra day, the Saturday before the start of the course or the Sunday after the course. The additional materials include access to microscopic slides and a room with gross and microscopic photographs. These entities are correlated with paper-based quiz questions and their respective answers.
The full course costs from $840 to $990 (depending on the course location), but there is a reduced cost for participants who are taking the AP part or CP part by itself, repeating the course, or for those who are practicing pathologists. The course offers CME and SAM credits for those who request them. Included in the costs are seven days of lecture, printed notes in binders, access to the photo quiz room, buffet-style breakfast and lunch, additional snacks and unlimited water, coffee, and tea. There are separate fees for microscope use, access to the microscopic slides room, and printed syllabus. Electronic slides are provided in PDF forms, available for download in the few days before the course and given on a complimentary flash drive upon picking up materials.
Additional materials such as scanned slides, access to video recordings, and audio recordings are available for purchase on site and on the Osler website. For the first three days of the course, local and national textbook vendors are available on site throughout the day offering discounts for textbooks.
I recommend consulting the Osler website if you are considering the course to confirm exact costs, locations, speakers, and important logistical details.
- Most lectures contain high-yield, board-relevant topics taught by faculty with decades of experience teaching for the board exams. Lecturers regularly speak to past board takers who can help them reshape lectures and look for trends in topics presented and ways to improve for the next generation of test takers. This makes the course great for getting the most up to date information for studying.
- Microscope slides include seven boxes of 25-slide sets (General A, B, and C, ENT, Ortho 1 and 2, and Dermatopathology) with multiple choice or multilevel questions geared towards practicing for the glass slide portion of the AP exam.
- Despite the tight schedule, lecturers often allow for a 5-10 minute break between lectures so that you can stretch, use the bathroom, take phone calls, or refill your drink.
- Lecturers stay present for all questions, asked aloud and in private. They also provide their contact information and encourage attendees to email them if any questions present once they leave.
- Photograph room has a wide range of gross photos, microscopic photos, karyotypes, and photos of clinical pathology items (e.g. microbiological tests, gel electrophoreses, etc).
- Food and drinks are allowed in the lecture hall, and candy is available for when you need a chocolate boost.
- Buffet-style breakfasts and lunches are abundant, fresh, nutritionally sound, and cater to all types of diets and lifestyles (carnivores, vegetarians, vegan, etc).
- Lecture days are extremely long, about 11-12 hours a day on average. There are scheduled breaks at 10am and 4pm and a 45-minute break for lunch, but most of the day is spent in lectures. This makes paying attention, staying alert, and getting adequate rest at night a challenge.
- Lecturers vary from city to city and so do their notes, which range from printed slides to outline format, and this may not line up completely with their slide presentations. While both formats are available, this can pose a challenge to those in the audience who can’t exactly follow along.
- Microscopes for glass slides only have 3 powers and can limit full histopathological examination.
- Course fees do not cover hotel expenses, presenting an additional financial challenge.
- Keep vigilant of the times that the microscope slide and photo rooms are open. Microscopic slide boxes are carefully monitored and while you have Osler materials in your possession, the staff will withhold a form of identification (under lock and key). But remember, there are certain times that you can return slide boxes for the next set, but if you go over time you may not be able to exchange the box and retrieve your ID until the next day. This can be challenging if you need to leave the premises for any reason and won’t have your ID.
- Lecture rooms vary in temperature and lighting. I highly recommend bring a jacket or hoodie, and I even saw a few attendees with large blankets. Seats towards the front tend to have a lack of direct overhead lighting, which may allow you to see the screen better.
- Wear comfortable clothing. You do not need to wear business casual or suits.
- You do not need to commit to one of the extra slide days at the beginning or end of the course to partake in viewing the glass slides or the photograph room materials. You may do so during the week, either during breaks, before or after lecture hours, or during lectures you do not desire to attend.
- Bring a seat cushion if sitting for long periods of time gives you back pain. You can request an extra chair to put your legs on if they get sore.
- I recommend stocking up on snacks from a local grocery store if you would like to have extra things to eat between or during lectures.
- Bring chewing gum to keep yourself alert for the dreaded post-prandial energy slump!
- Bring headache medicine and extra pairs of glasses just in case. Also, research the hotel ahead of time and if you are interested in utilizing fitness centers or pools, you can pack recreational clothing ahead of time.
Who Should Attend?
- Pathology residents or fellows who intend on taking their board exams in the immediate future (within 1 year).
- Practicing pathologists who are in need of CME or SAM credits.
- Practicing pathologists preparing for a MOC exam.
- Pathology residents or fellows who have failed a portion of the AP or CP board exams.
Who Should NOT Attend?
- Pathology residents in their 3rd year or below. You are much better off taking the course closer to your exam, as material may evolve.
- Anyone who cannot commit to being present for the majority of the lectures. It is not worth the cost or the time commitment to routinely skip lectures. Electronic versions are less costly and can be viewed on your own time.
Overall Pathspective Score: 4 out of 5
Overall I found the Osler Pathology Board Review Course to be an excellent and integral step in preparation for the Pathology Board Exams. I would recommend the course to Pathology residents and fellows who benefit from the omnipotence of live lectures. Osler provides concentrated, relatively-distraction free study time, and can aid attendees who may suffer from motivating themselves to study the large quantities of material.
Have you attended the Osler Pathology Board Review Course? What did you think? Comment below!