• Responding to a new generation of proprietary study resources in medical education

      O'Hanlon, Robin; Laynor, Gregory; 0000-0002-4578-4051 (2019-04-01)
      Traditionally, health sciences libraries have supported patrons who are preparing for medical licensure examinations by collecting and making accessible board exam preparation resources, such as question banks and study guides. However, when online board exam preparation resources are not available for licensing, providing equitable access to all library users can be a challenge. In recent years, a new generation of online study resources has emerged. Sites such as SketchyMedical and Picmonic use visual learning mnemonics, while resources such as Quizlet leverage crowd-sourcing to generate study content. While some of the content from these resources is made freely available, these resources are often limited to paid individual subscribers. This new generation of study resources, thus, presents a conundrum for health sciences librarians. On the one hand, these innovative resources offer new insights into how students learn and study, reflecting pedagogical trends in self-directed learning. On the other hand, the proprietary individual subscription–based model of these resources can widen the achievement gap between students who can afford to pay subscription costs and those who cannot. This commentary provides an overview of some of the most popular medical board examination preparation resources that have emerged in recent years. The authors suggest that health sciences librarians collaborate with medical students and educators to better understand and evaluate these resources.