Over the last ten years, residency placements have become increasingly more competitive, due in large part to the progressive rise in the number of students entering medical school without an equally appreciable increase in the number of residency slots. In 2015, for example, roughly 41,000 applicants vied for only 30,000 positions. In response, residency programs are universally raising the bar on the level of student competency they’re requiring for admission, resulting in a greater emphasis on objective board scores as a way to screen candidates.
As such, all medical school students have come to understand the vast importance of their board exams. However, the board exams are only one of the many responsibilities students will have throughout their four years of medical school; they also need to do well in classes and clerkships. Unfortunately, these two requirements are often at odds with one another. Put simply, medical students struggle to balance not only their coursework and board prep, but also reviewing past learned material they will need for their boards while staying focused on their current course/clerkship material. Medical school students have long been in need of a long-term approach to board prep that simultaneously helps them prioritize current course content while also keeping past learned content fresh.
So after nearly 11 months of testing, analysis of more than 147,000,000 answered questions, and conversations with thousands of students, we are thrilled to announce that Firecracker Beta is officially graduating, and in its place we are launching two new, never-before-seen flagship products - Firecracker MD and Firecracker DO - the only medical education platforms designed to simultaneously prepare you for both your courses and your USMLE or COMLEX board exams.
Both Firecracker MD and Firecracker DO were created in order to assist students with their diverse and demanding medical school coursework requirements over their entire four years of study, culminating in successful board exam performance, all without the need of a traditional, short-term cramming period. The platforms work by creating individualized study plans for each Firecracker student, starting from his or her first day in the platform, all the way until exam day.
The study plan accomplishes this by taking into account your starting knowledge, current courses, past courses, board exam test date, and goal board exam score. It then assigns you daily and weekly tasks depending on your weak areas and greatest immediate need. As such, Firecracker MD and Firecracker DO keep track of all of the content you're learning as you progress through med school, prioritize it appropriately, yet limit the degree of personal management you have to do yourself. Even more, the study plan is adjusted each day based on your continual progress, ensuring that the system always maximizes for study efficiency, specific to each individual student.
We genuinely believe that the release of Firecracker MD and Firecracker DO is an important step forward, not just for medical education, but also for any industry aiming to serve students whose academic careers are segmented by or culminate in significant licensing exams. That said, thoughtful feedback from students like you is invaluable in that it allows us to quickly and consistently identify ways to improve this vision. We're all on the same team at the end of the day, so the more candid you are, the better a product we can build for you.
Finally, it goes without saying, but I’d like to personally thank everyone who took the time to test our Beta, provide feedback, and break ground with us on the next generation of medical education. While this is the end of Beta, it is far from the end of the road. We look forward to working with you, regardless of your desired path forward, and just hope you remember us when you’re out there doing big things.
Until then: You be the student. Firecracker will be the tutor. Together, we’ll make you a doctor.
Keith Frankel (@theKeithF)
Chief Experience Officer