CNS Oral Boards Examination Course
Garni Barkhoudarian, MD
Robert J. Spinner, MD
The ABNS Oral Boards examination can be one of the most stressful and daunting challenges for the young neurosurgeon. Surgeons preparing for this exam, approach it similar to a challenging operation, with much preparation and planning. For the past eight years, the CNS has been conducting Oral Boards Examination courses, now held twice a year, to help our members be properly prepared. As 2020 brought new challenges to surgical training and education, the CNS has transitioned this critical exam preparation course to a virtual format. The next CNS Oral Boards Examination Course will be held virtually February 20 & 21, 2021.
Taking into account the neurosurgeons’ busy schedules, the CNS course is designed to rigorously and efficiently steer exam preparation. Over one-and-a-half days, course attendees will participate in an individualized, targeted and timely review of general neurosurgical and self-selected subspecialty topics, including diagnosis, management and complications. The course will consist of didactic, small group and one-on-one sessions. This course is intended to provide the examinees guidance on their strengths and weaknesses, helping them prepare with focused study prior to the exam, and also providing realistic expectations of the examination process. The course is always scheduled one to two months prior to the oral exam, allowing the material to remain fresh in mind with plenty of time to prepare. This year, we have added a series of post-course quizzing sessions, “Hot Seat Mondays,” to continue the learning and prep between the course and board exams.
The CNS has adapted the its valued and trusted CNS Oral Boards Course to a virtual program for winter 2021.
The CNS course was redesigned in 2019 to address the ABNS Oral Board Examination format changes, concentrating on core principles of general neurosurgery and commonly encountered pathology through the emergency room. In addition, subspecialty areas were defined allowing a candidate to select an area of focused practice. The feedback from the CNS course’s changes has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees finding value in the expanded small group sessions and truncated didactic lectures. Mock examinations and one-on-one sessions were found to be extremely helpful with immediate feedback to the examinees.
In an era where neurosurgical education can be received in many formats, the CNS Oral Boards Course remains a valuable resource to our membership. The CNS continues to innovate and adjust our course offerings and will continue to do so in our changing educational landscape. Our faculty’s goal is not only to help our participants pass the ABNS exam, but rather to impart neurosurgical knowledge that will remain applicable in their practices.