, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 120-124

Psychiatry Clerkship Students’ Preparation, Reflection, and Results on the NBME Psychiatry Subject Exam

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Psychiatry clerkship training involves many learning components, one of which is acquisition of scholarly knowledge. The authors investigate the reading materials and learning methods used by clinical clerks in their preparation for the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Psychiatry Subject Exam (PSE).


Clerkship students from six U.S. medical schools who had recently completed their psychiatry clerkship and PSE were surveyed regarding reading material use, teaching methods encountered, and other relevant resources which may have influenced their PSE scores.


The most frequently used PSE preparation material was a “step-or-prep” book, followed by practice questions, handouts and assigned texts. No single preparation material type or combination proved significantly different in influencing PSE scores. The didactic methods used in clerkships did differ significantly in their influence on PSE scores. Students in the top quartile used slightly more books and different combinations of books than students in the bottom quartile.


Students exhibited several trends in their preparation for the PSE. The most striking findings were the heavy student reliance on step-or-prep books over other learning resources and that step-or-prep books did not demonstrate significance as a superior preparation resource for the PSE. These trends in third-year psychiatric rotations have important implications for medical student education.

Data contained in this article were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Directors for Medical Student Education in Psychiatry, Park City, Utah. Approval for research was granted by the Institutional Review Boards of all respective participating institutions.
Dr. Pelic was previously on the Speaker’s Bureau for Pfizer and Eli Lilly. Drs. Briscoe, Levine, Carlson, and Al-Mateen disclosed no competing interests.