There are several excellent surgical textbooks out there in bookstores to help you prepare for the American Board of Surgery written qualifying exam, but if you try to look for something to help you prepare for the oral certifying exam, you will face the same frustration I faced when I was looking.
Except for a couple of confusing review books full of crowded information, bullet points, " curve balls" and bunch of statistics, there is nothing out there that deals genuinely with this important and different type of exam, which has, by the way, the highest failure rate of all ABS exams (28 % in 2012 for example, almost 3 out 10 ), see the published ABS statics later.
Nobody seems interested in taking the time to prepare a solid reference for this exam, probably because it only addresses a very limited number of people, about 2000 candidates each year, or because it is a difficult task that involves a partly subjective exam that we did not know much about its rules and its questions and answers.
It was that frustration that drove me to write this book. It took me initially three years of hard work during my spare time to collect all the information I needed to create a sensible book that dealt directly with the commonly asked questions in the oral Board exam and the best answers to these questions.
Almost all the questions in this book are similar to the actual questions being asked on the Board exam, they were collected through countless interviews and phone calls with Board examinees, and the answers presented in this book are based on the most recent and solid literature and surgical experience available to us.
While I do not anticipate that every surgeon or surgical resident is going to agree with every answer in this book, it, nevertheless, represents a point of view that should be, in my view, acceptable to the Board examiners.
This book assumes a certain level of knowledge in its readers; it cuts directly into the core answers of each subject in a systematic and clear fashion. It is mainly intended to help the surgical residents and surgeons preparing for their certifying or recertifying Board exam and it should serve as an easy and quick reference for the practicing surgeonswho are interested in updating and organizing their knowledge in the field of general surgery because, the commonly asked questions on the Board exam turned out to be, after all, the most commonly encountered clinical presentations in the daily practice of any general surgeon.
The feedback I received from surgeons who read the book and took the exam was overwhelmingly positive. It encouraged me to work harder on the book and necessitated more than 20 reprints of the book over the last 12 years.
During these years I had countless interactions, emails and interviews with board examinees that made my yearly updates of the book so much more valuable and relevant to the main goal of passing the exam.
In 2007, I made the last significant revision of the book, since that time , I only added and changed few topics...but, by the end of 2011, it became clear to me that many new standards of care have changed and new topics have been added to the certifying exam, so I started an overall review to the entire book and ended up after a year of work with this 2014 edition of Safe Answers, which I consider the best, most inclusive and up to date, I have ever written.
Few months ago I had to take my second recertifying exam, I was pleased to see the new changes that were introduced to this exam, beside becoming a computer based exam, they made it almost purely clinical exam, which made it so much similar to the certifying exam but in a different format.
Almost all the questions in my recertification exam were clinical presentations and scenarios.., asking about the best next step, the most appropriate management, the most common cause...etc. It was a six hours exam, made up of three sessions with 10 minutes breaks in between.
I had not prepared specifically for it as I was working on updating safe answers, but i was so pleasantly surprised with the ease and comfort I found myself in during the exam... the questions were similar almost to the letter, the answers were clear to me half the way through reading each question... by the end of the exam, I knew i did extremely well and I went directly to my hotel room to dictate all the questions I could remember..
I studied them later.and I came up with the decision to add about 50 pages to my book and make it the best reference for the recertifying exam as it is already for the oral board, because they are so much similar.
I thought that these additions can only strengthen the book as an oral board exam preparation book and make it, at the same time, an excellent reference for the recertifying exam.
I hope i succeeded in my effort and I will wait anxiously for your helpful questions and advices.
I noted lately that some competing ABS exams books ( mostly collections of bullets points, curve balls, outlines and headlines ) are trying to dispose of " Safe Answers " book through forums and online campaigns as " old fashioned" or " not up to date " ...or " has poor English "...etc. Well , while I commend the efforts , I regret to inform those people that none of their attempts have changed the fact that " Safe Answers" remains , by far , the best book for the preparation for the Surgical Board Exams, no other book can give you the amount of knowledge and information in the exact cerytifying exam format as " Safe Answers", all its content is based on 2014 best surgical references which is the most up to date reliable references available and I continue to challenge any of those people to point out one " not up to date " information in our current edition.
As to those commenting on the " Book English ", I say : Go buy a poetry book..