The Curbsiders podcast

#60: Masters of MKSAP on Medical Education

October 1, 2017 | By

How to individualize learning for yourself, and your learners with tips from Dr. Philip A. Masters, editor-in-chief of MKSAP and IM Essentials, Vice President of Membership/International Programs at the American College of Physicians (ACP) and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Masters schools us on work life balance, how to recognize and diagnose struggling learners, what resources to use, teaching exercises, and how to generate a study plan.

Full show notes available at

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Teaching/Learning Pearls:

  1. Advice to educators: Never stop being a student/learner yourself.
  2. Advice to learners: Always try and think one step above your current level of training e.g. What would you do if you were the sub-intern, resident, or attending? This mental exercise forces growth.
  3. Work life balance: Important for wellness, but balance is probably the wrong word. Our personal lives must be INTEGRATED with our commitment to medicine.
  4. Modern learners: Utilize technology e.g. watch lectures at 1.5x speed. They do questions first, then read/study to fill in gaps. Past learners read/studied first, then did questions to assess their knowledge/understanding.
  5. Caution to learners: Using questions as a primary resource does not necessarily provide enough depth and breadth of knowledge! Modern learners might miss some basic concepts not covered by questions.
  6. Resources for studying Internal Medicine: Your peers don’t always know best. Ask your clerkship direct or program director!
  7. Study plan for clerkship students: Pick a study guide (e.g. IM Essentials, Blueprints Medicine 6th Edition, Step-Up to Medicine 4th Edition, etc.), coupled with clinical work (e.g. teaching rounds in hospital/clinic), and a question bank (e.g. MKSAP, USMLE World, etc.). Extra credit: Look ahead at resources used during 4th year, or residency e.g. Pocket Medicine 6th Edition)
  8. As a medical educator: One needs to know what resources exist for learners to help them make individualized recommendations based on a their needs. Dr. Watto recommends: Visit your medical library and ask the librarian what’s available for FREE!
  9. Microanalytic protocol method: Diagnose a learner’s deficiency and then formulate a specific treatment plan.
  10. Teaching exercise: Have learner read a question stem or clinical vignette then ask them, “What are the key elements of the history?”, “What would be in your differential diagnosis?”. Have learner practice this on their own as well.
  11. Teaching exercise: Think out loud when connecting points in a history, and synthesizing information. Talk through your thought process and how it relates to your medical decision making. Don’t overemphasize facts. Learners need to develop mental frameworks and synthesize facts into useable information.
  12. Resources for educators: Teaching Medicine Series of books from ACP. Take advantage of courses, and mentorship available through societies, and colleges e.g. AAIM, SGIM, Stanford Faculty Development etc.

Goal: Listener will avoid common pitfalls as learners/educators, and develop better plans to successfully teach themselves, and others.

Learning objectives:
After listening to this episode listeners will…

  1. Recall common mistakes made by learners and teachers
  2. Diagnose a learner’s key issue(s)
  3. Identify key resources for learners
  4. Recognize the strengths and limitations of multiple choice questions as a study aide
  5. Develop effective study plans for struggling learners

Disclosures: Dr. Masters is employed by the ACP who publishes MKSAP, and IM Essentials. He reports no relevant financial disclosures. Matt, Stuart, and Paul are ACP members, but have no financial interest in the ACP.

Time Stamps
00:00 Intro
01:50 Listener feedback
04:18 Announcements
04:58 Picks of the Week
10:37 Guest bio and credentials
12:36 Getting to know our guest
18:05 Wellness and work life balance
22:55 How medical education has changed
28:55 Choosing resources as a learner
38:00 Case of a struggling learner
41:50 Learners with knowledge deficits and the role of the clinician (non-professional educator)
47:56 Resources to improve your skills as a medical educator
51:01 Take home points

Links from the show:

  1. Books for productivity Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, Deep Work by Cal Newport, The One Thing by Gary Keller
  2. Curb Your Enthusiasm (TV show) by Larry David
  3. On Doctoring (book) by John Stone and Richard Reynolds
  4. Mother! (film) by Darren Aronofsky
  5. The Quotable Osler (book) by Mark Silverman
  6. Pocket Medicine (book) Mark S. Sabatine
  7. IM Essentials by ACP
  8. MKSAP-Medical Knowledge Self Assessment by ACP
  9. Blueprints Medicine 6th Edition
  10. Step-Up to Medicine 4th Edition
  11. Microanalytic protocol method
  12. Teaching Internal Medicine Series from ACP
  13. Academic Association for Internal Medicine (AAIM) Meeting 2018
  14. Society for General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Meeting 2018

CME Partner


The Curbsiders are partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer FREE continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Visit and search for this episode to claim credit.

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