Short Reads

RITE Answers

A test of somewhat less significance.

In this path I somehow find myself still traveling, tests are never over. Most recently, I took the Residency In-service Training Exam, or RITE. It’s sort of a practice board exam, “boards” being a rather vapid term that could be applied to half a dozen different exams with equivalent validity. In this particular case, it’s a specialty-specific test meant to help current residents prepare for the real specialty-specific test at the end of residency—allowing one to call themselves a “board-certified” pediatrician, internist, general surgeon, and so on. This is different than a subspecialty, like cardiology, endocrinology, or epileptology—more on that here.

For the previous two years, I’ve taken a pediatrics version called the ITE; this was my first year taking the neurology flavor. You’re given 6–8 hours to complete eight blocks of 50 questions each, 400 total. Pretty standard stuff at this point.

Unlike real specialty boards, these take place in the middle of whatever else is going on, without any dedicated study time or preparation (although I have noticed that the truly studious residents find a way to work it in). Our time to take it fell while I was on inpatient service, which I thought was a bad deal until I found out Adam had to take it after two weeks of nights.

Tests like this have a selection bias in that anything known is answered quickly and passed over, while anything hard is focused on as the time remaining counts down. After enough time has passed to forget about the experience, grades score reports are released. Scores are expressed relative to the overall pool of residents taking the exam that year, broken down into different categories to help focus studying efforts. After seeing my report, the obvious was made even more clear: I need to study everything.