The Growing Importance of the Step 2CK

Posted by Yonas Dinkneh on Jul 13, 2015 12:30:00 PM

Source: National Resident Matching Program

The Step 2CK is the second part of the USMLE board exam and is used to assess a medical student’s clinical knowledge. Despite comprising a third of the entire USMLE board exam, the Step 2CK is often regarded as less important than the Step 1, requiring significantly less effort and preparation. I spoke with a residency director who told me that while a strong Step 1 score is important for matching with top-tier residency programs, the need for strong Step 2CK scores is evident. Rising Step 1 scores, combined with ever-increasing competition for a limited number of residency berths, are making the step 2CK more important for all medical students.

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Topics: USMLE Step 2 CK, Firecracker for Schools

Why Your Students Aren't Going to Class

Posted by Yonas Dinkneh on Jun 29, 2015 12:43:00 PM

Recently we've spoken to students and medical school administrators who say that attendance and participation in medical school classrooms are on the decline. With fewer students participating, providing interactive and thought-provoking lectures has become more difficult. This begs the question: why, with tuition rates and inter-class competition on the rise, are some students opting out of attending class? The answer is simple—they believe that they can perform better in their classes and on board exams while studying independently. The wide availability of pass/fail courses in medical schools has given students the liberty of studying on their own and they agree overwhelmingly that it is more efficient. With lecture slides, podcasts and course materials readily available online, students can often access all the materials necessary to pass their courses without even attending class, so why bother? Some students view the classroom as an obstacle as opposed to a practical tool.

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Topics: Medical Education, Firecracker for Schools

The Impending Doctor Shortage

Posted by Yonas Dinkneh on Jun 19, 2015 5:24:00 PM

As the U.S population continues to grow and the number of elderly citizens surges, the demand for physicians is at an all-time high. In the next decade, the number of Medicare beneficiaries is expected to rise by 49% and, by the same time, nearly a quarter of today’s doctors are expected to retire. Research predicts that by 2025 the United States will face a shortage of between 46,000-90,000 physicians who are critical to national health and well-being. According to statistics from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, nonprimary care specialties are expected to see a shortage of about 62,400 doctors. Another AAMC study estimates that by 2025 growing demand for primary care physicians will exceed supply by nearly 45,000 needed physicians.  This is going to affect all patients – but patients needing specialty care and those living in poor, rural areas will be the most affected. To ensure the health of the future, it is important that these issues are addressed immediately while there is still time to train future doctors and physicians.

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Topics: Firecracker for Schools

Introducing Firecracker's Institutional Program

Posted by Phil Harrell on Jun 9, 2015 7:39:00 PM

As you know, the number of students entering medical school has increased 23.4% since 2002. We have not seen corresponding growth in the number of residencies. Of course we need the federal government to lift the current cap on new doctor training. But in the meantime we are faced with increased competition: too few residencies for the number of new doctors graduating each year. This condition makes student performance on the board exams - the Step 1 and Step CK as well as the COMLEX 1 and 2 - extremely important.

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Topics: Firecracker for Schools

Welcome to Firecracker

Firecracker is an adaptive learning platform that uses amazing content coupled with spaced repetition to help medical students crush their exams. We offer programs for both individual students, and entire medical schools. If you'd like to learn more contact us at

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