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Resources from the ABA, ASA, and Beyond

Beyond the CSA’s Oral Board resources, we highly recommend incorporating the following resources into your study plan from ABA, ASA, and other key organizations. Additionally, you will find a list of popular textbooks for your studies below.

ABA Resources

ABA Applied Exam Page

ABA Must Watch Video: “Ideal Candidate Behaviors”

ABA Must-Watch Video: “Behaviors to Avoid”

ABA Sample Exam Questions

ABA Initial Certification Content Outline

The American Board of Anesthesiology Website

ASA Resources

ASA Practice Standards and Parameters

2022 ASA Difficult Airway Algorithm

Other Resources

Stanford Emergency Manual (free download – Critical Incidents)

The ABA’s article in A&A explaining the SOE’s purpose and structure

A&A Editorial concerning the ABA’s article

Featured Review in “Anesthesiology” discussing 2022 ASA Difficult Airway Algorithm

One approach to outlining oral board stems: video by Dr. Louise Wen

Popular Textbooks

Stanford Emergency Manual

Managing critical Incidents is an important facet of our clinical practice (and of the SOE). The Stanford Emergency Manual (available for free download) succinctly describes the immediate diagnostic and therapeutic considerations for 26 critical incidents, delineated in the photo (see left) of the manual’s cover/table of contents.

While designed for use in clinical practice, the algorithms in the Stanford Emergency Manual are also directly applicable during scenarios you may expect to face during the SOE.

Find the Stanford Emergency Manual here.

Faust’s Anesthesiology Review

Now in its sixth edition (about to be released), Faust’s Anesthesiology Review consists of 243 chapters (in ~600 pages) providing a quick review of key clinical and basic anesthesia issues. In the foreword to the fifth edition, Dr. Mark Warner (Chair Emeritus of the Department of Anesthesia at Mayo Clinic Rochester) wrote that in the first edition (in 1991) the authors “introduced their novel ‘anti-comprehensive’ anesthesia textbook,” with “short chapters that were easy to read and contained the most important information related to their topics,” and that the current edition provides a “the same high priority review of important knowledge that [his] generation found in the first edition.”

As Dr. Warner points out in the frontmatter, “thousands of anesthesiologists in his generation turned to previous Faust editions for quick review of important issues in clinical practice and in preparation for board examination.”

-Foreword to “Faust’s Anesthesiology Review, Fifth edition

Personal comments: I have seen this text evolve greatly since I was a resident, and am impressed by the high quality of the content (which is bolstered by high-yield figures and tables) as well as the breadth of salient issues covered. The text is divided into 15 sections, including all of the anesthesia subspecialties, operating room/equipment/monitoring, physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, colloids and blood products, preoperative and postoperative considerations, risk management and practice management. Chapters are well-organized and practically oriented. I used Faust myself while preparing for both the ITEs/written board exam and the oral boards. I personally feel that the text would be most beneficial if one begins to consult it frequently while building up one’s knowledge base, i.e. throughout residency, but I don’t think it is too late to use it later in one’s career, as learning is a lifelong process. While the chapters aspire to cover the ABA content outline, I would not categorize this as an oral board prep book per se (so few of those exist!), and it does not offer advice specific to the oral examination process (and, to my knowledge, few texts touch upon these issues at all, which is part of what inspired the CSA’s to embark on creating this oral board-oriented educational initiative). The succinct and high-impact nature of each chapter in Faust lends itself well to refreshing one’s memory about important topics as the oral examination draws near, and one is working to tighten up one’s verbal delivery of information and work on succinct communication, while focusing on the four key attributes tested on the standardized oral examination (see related videos about this – add hyperlink).

As an academic attending, I enjoy using Faust to sometimes help me brainstorm small teaching presentations on important but often less-discussed topics for residents, and I use these chapters as a jumping-off point. The fifth edition added 28 new chapters, including chapters on ECMO, TXA use in orthopedic surgery, anesthesia for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and blood product conservation, and I look forward to seeing what the forthcoming sixth edition will add.

Yao and Artusio’s Anesthesiology: Problem-Oriented Patient Management

Often referred to as “Yao and Artusio,” this text is divided into 12 sections and 63 chapters, with each chapter centered around a real-world case. Each case/chapter organizes its questions around four topics: 1. medical disease and differential diagnosis, and 2. preoperative, 3. intraoperative and 4. postoperative management.

For instance, chapter 1, centered on a case involving a patient with asthma/COPD, covers 50 discrete questions, and the solution to each question lists helpful citations, referencing not only popular anesthesia textbooks, but also high-yield review articles and editorials on the topics. Tables and figures are well-designed, such as (for chapter 1) a table highlighting the differences between obstructive and restrictive lung diseases, and a figure showing the key volumes and capacities relate to one another, and a comparison of flow-volume loops among healthy patients, patients with COPD, restrictive lung disease, fixed obstruction, variable extrathoracic obstruction and variable intrathoracic obstruction.

Personal comments: When I began residency, this text was included in the bundle of books given to us by our residency program. Many of my attendings encouraged me to begin reading it as early as CA1 year (after I gained my footing as a new anesthesia resident), and I did. Initially, I used the book for primary learning, to augment the other texts I used regularly. I appreciated its figures and question-based format (i.e. one set of questions in chapter 1 discusses how to detect auto-PEEP and choose between PCV and VCV, and the next two numbered questions cover the differential diagnosis of bronchospasm and the appropriate management of a sudden increase in PIPs under GETA, with commentary on intraoperative anaphylaxis and references to related chapters in Barash’s “Clinical Anesthesia,” Stoelting’s “Anesthesia and Co-existing Disease” and a review article entitled “Perioperative considerations for the patient with asthma and bronchospasm”). The answers provided to subsequent questions include a flow chart for “a systematic approach to emergence and extubation,” which includes whether the patient should be a candidate for deep extubation and what criteria would be criteria for continued postoperative intubation, and a question response that describes the rationale for deliberating whether you would consider deep extubation in this specific patient.

The question-answer based format (paired with high-impact figures and tables covering critical issues) makes Yao and Artusio compelling, clinically oriented and practical reading. As I progressed through residency and found myself beyond the point of wanting to read the pertinent chapter in Jaffe (“Anesthesiologist’s Manual of Surgical Procedures”) the night before a given case, I began to read the pertinent chapter (or part thereof) in Yao and Artusio. This book came to feel (to me) like a trusted companion during residency (where I could focus on bite-sized chunks to study every week), and I used it longitudinally. Yao and Artusio isn’t intended to replace a comprehensive text such as Miller or Barash: rather, Yao and Artusio is problem-oriented, which is emphasized right in its title. Our clinical practice is problem-oriented as well (as is the SOE). It’s important to acknowledge some inherent limitations due to the conciseness of the text: it’s no replacement for a primary comprehensive anesthesia textbook (but it’s not “short” either – Yao and Artusio is 1165 pages, albeit with much less condensed page formatting and smaller physical pages than the comprehensive anesthesia textbooks such as Miller, Barash, etc).

Yao and Artusio was the one book I brought with me when I flew to take my oral board exam (don’t worry, an eBook version is included if you buy the paper copy, but sometimes I like flipping through the pages of a text), and I recall reviewing what I considered to be high-yield chapters on important topics I hadn’t recently faced clinically (I was in an out-of-OR fellowship then) in the final weeks and days before the exam (for instance, pediatric chapters include “tracheoesophageal fistula,” “congenital diaphragmatic hernia” and “transposition of the great arteries,” “tetralogy of Fallot,” “congenital heart disease with a cervical mass in infancy” and a sampling of more common entities such as “inflammatory airway disease in childhood: laryngotracheobronchitis” and “post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage.”

An important point to emphasize (given the book’s question-answer format) is that for any given content area, the standardized oral exam will NOT mirror the full spectrum of questions in Yao and Artusio. Generally speaking, the answers are much more verbose than the answers an exam candidate would deliver. To illustrate that point, if you just read aloud the printed answer to one of the 50 questions in chapter 1, that alone would take >1 minute, which is not what any candidate would do during the SOE when answering a question. In contrast, recall that the SOE consists of two 35-minute exam sessions, each with a pair of examiners, and you’ll need to parse your responses to each question expertly (a skill that the CSA describes in detail in related video content – hyperlink forthcoming), in order to maximize your performance on the exam by answering all the questions. The solutions to the questions in Yao and Artusio will help you learn and synthesize the core material, in an organized, problem-oriented manner — helping you prepare not only for the exam, but also for your career ahead! All caveats aside, small nuggets of the questions and answers in Yao and Artusio do reflect the type of reasoning and expression that you should aim to demonstrate during your mock orals and oral exams. The art of answering oral exam questions is not the subject of Yao and Artusio, but in my personal opinion, that doesn’t detract from its value.

One cautionary point (especially if you first learn of this text late in the process of preparing for the SOE): Yao and Artusio is very long and packed densely with high-yield learning points, so it is best used early and often. I would discourage anyone from racing to work their way through the entire textbook shortly before the exam – Yao and Artusio is too comprehensive to read fully during a short period.

No single textbook or resource is necessary to excel on the oral exam! Yao and Artusio was important part of my preparation process. An important strategy (covered in the accompanying videos and written references) is that you should build your knowledge base throughout your training (with resources you choose, which may include Yao and Artusio) and devote a large part of your focus during preparation to take the SOE on practicing aloud and with others as the SOE draws nearer, focusing on your expressive and communication skills, affective skills, and the key attributes tested on the SOE: (1) The ability to apply medical knowledge to case, (2) Judgment, (3) Adaptability to complications and unexpected outcomes and (4) Organization and effectiveness at communicating diagnoses and treatments. 

For a high-yield discussion of the exam’s objectives and effective exam preparation strategies, check out the videos on the “CSA Video Bank” page and the documents posted on “CSA Written Reference Bank” page.

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