Orthopedic trainees in the United States associate November with the orthopedic in-training exam. In this month’s Ortho Apps column, we focus on board preparation and review apps for orthopedic residents and surgeons preparing for orthopedic in-training exams (OITEs).
OITE strategy apps
A series of apps released for iPhone and Android have been released titled “OITE Strategy,” “OITE Tumor” and “OITE Buzzwords.” The “strategy” app is free and provides superficial and generic information for each of the major subcategories included in the exam, such as the percent of questions that focus on a particular topic or the number of questions that were supplemented by images. The app also provides guidance regarding the best study resources but, not surprisingly, essentially recommends Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and leading specialty journals for preparation.
The other apps are more substantive. Buzzwords include 51 commonly tested topics supplemented by brief factoids and images when appropriate. Similarly, the tumor app includes 78 tumor-related buzzwords and answers. Unfortunately, both apps suffer from bugs, run slow and occasionally crashed during our testing. At $0.99 each, they certainly provide educational value, but a frustrating interface makes them practically unusable.
A second group of apps titled, “Bone Test,” have been released for sports, pediatrics and miscellaneous topics. Each app includes 50 test questions and provides brief answers as well as references and information for further study in many cases. The app is simple and presents questions in a list, without the option for quiz mode or randomization. We tested the miscellaneous version and found the questions were limited to trauma, oncology, basic science and foot/ankle topics. Overall, while useful, these apps are relatively expensive ($5 to $10) for their limited bank of questions.
Orthopaedics Pro is an attempt at an all-inclusive orthopedics study tool. The menu is organized into flashcards, true/false (500 questions) and single best answer (106 questions). The flashcards are not merely “factoids” of information. Rather, they are complete paragraphs of text for every subject. The app contains a lot of information, but is difficult to navigate at times. The information is sometimes inconsistent and, at other times, impressive. For example, the subheading “calcaneus fracture” includes reference to normal Bohler’s angle and normal Angle of Gissane. It also includes Sander’s classification, Zwipp classification, principles of fixation, reports Letournel’s results and provides Essex-Lopresti’s subtypes. However, the format is difficult to read. All questions must be completed in order, and the app suffers from a poor user interface. However, the questions and explanations are generally good.
Mobile phone adaption
Our final app review is not a native app, but rather a flashcard question bank that has been adapted for mobile phones. Members of the California Orthopaedic Association (COA) have developed and maintained an impressive collection of orthopedic flashcards based on the popular Orthopedics Knowledge Update (OKU) series from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The collection currently includes nearly 3,000 flashcards adapted directly from the OKU-10 series and written by orthopedic surgeons.
Access is available from the COA website (www.coa.org) and costs $25 for residents, $50 for active COA members, and $275 for non-members. The database is provided via www.quizlet.com, a flashcard repository that works with a native Quizlet app, as well as many other flashcard study apps that each have specific features. We tested gFlashPro and were pleased with the features. The questions themselves are “free response” — not multiple choice like most standardized tests, and provide brief answers with chapter references. Overall, we found the questions to be most relevant and useful when used to supplement primary reading from the OKU series.
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Matthew DiPaola, MD, is an assistant professor and shoulder and elbow specialist in the Department of Orthopedics at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is a writer for iMedical Apps and co-founder of Touch Consult, a developer of team-based medical software to improve signout. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orrin I. Franko, MD, is a PGY4 orthopedic resident at UC San Diego. He has an interest in promoting mobile technology within orthopedic surgery and founded the website www.TopOrthoApps.com to help surgeons and trainees find the most relevant orthopedic apps for their mobile devices. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclosures: DiPaola and Franko have no relevant financial disclosures.