Dr. Jeffrey Bruce and Dr. E. Sander Connolly are serious about training the next generation of neurosurgeons. Not only are they faculty members in a teaching department, they also both currently serve on the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS).
(The ABNS is the board that certifies “board-certified” neurosurgeons—see our recent post about the group here.)
At last month’s meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Dr. Bruce and Dr. Connolly made some extra time for those young neurosurgeons. The two Columbia neurosurgeons, along with three other ABNS board members, ran a breakfast seminar called “ABNS Board Preparation: What You Must Know.”
When you think “breakfast seminar,” though, don’t think a Powerpoint presentation played in the background while a room full of chatting breakfasters lingered over their third cups of coffee.
Instead, imagine a two-hour session in which suited, serious young neurosurgeons paid fierce attention to the mentors at the front.
The presenters were there to discuss general requirements for board certification and strategies for preparing for the oral examinations.
Their audience had traveled pretty far along the road to board certification already. For starters, they each completed an eighty-four-month training program under the mentorship of teaching doctors like Dr. Bruce and Dr. Connolly.
Each year, they also had one chance to take the Primary Examination, a written test. Early in their residencies, they took the Primary for practice. Later, they could choose to sit the exam for “credit,” to earn the pass they would need to move toward certification.
Finally, after residency training, they began preparing for the face-to-face Oral Exams. These exams measure not just a candidate’s knowledge, but also their skill and clinical judgment.
But hitting the books won’t suffice for the Oral Exams. Candidates have been working for nearly a decade to hone their skills and clinical judgment. What is the best way to prepare for a test that draws on almost ten years of experience?
That was the question that the presenters addressed. As always, these mentors set their expectations unflinchingly high, yet strove to give the attendees the tools they would need to meet those expectations. That’s what training the next generation of neurosurgeons is all about.
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