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Cracking the NBME Shelf Exam: Pediatrics

General Thoughts: The Pediatrics shelf isn't extraordinarily difficult, but it's not a cakewalk either. Because pediatrics is a broad, primary care specialty, you're more than likely to get a few wildcard questions out of left field on things that you might not have encountered or studied during your rotation. With that said, it wouldn't hurt to review some throwbacks from Step 1, particularly microbiology. (Still got those SketchyMicro videos lying around?) Although some people recommend having two books to study for this particular shelf, I got away with only UWorld and Case Files due to the relatively short time I was on the rotation (5 weeks).

Some of the higher-yield pediatric topics include:

  • RSV and bronchiolitis
  • croup, strep pharyngitis
  • bacterial meningitis
  • childhood cancers
  • developmental milestones
  • cystic fibrosis
  • sickle cell
  • seizures (particularly febrile and absence)
  • ADHD
  • having a general idea of what vaccines are live versus inactivated and when they're given

Recommended Resources

UWorld was my primary resource here. With almost 400 pediatrics questions, I felt that it offered pretty broad coverage of all relevant topics. Do all the questions, do them again, and do your incorrects. Make sure to read the explanations - they really help.

Case Files Pediatrics

60 pediatrics cases, presented in the usual Case Files format. Definitely not comprehensive by any means, but it at least offers an overview of the more common/high-yield topics mentioned above.

I also managed to snag an old copy of Blueprints Pediatrics for free, but I found it too dense and didn't really end up using it much. If your peds rotation was only a few weeks like mine, I would recommend sticking to UWorld and one other book (such as Case Files) and perusing them well. As for NBME practice exams, I didn't do any this time around. This was definitely reflected somewhat on my actual pediatrics shelf exam score, but if you're crunched for time I wouldn't sweat it.