Board Stiff Too: Preparing For the Anesthesia Orals, Second Edition. 

By Christopher J. Gallagher, M.D., Steven E. Hill, M.D., David A. Lubarsky, M.D. Woburn, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001. Pages: 390. Price: $46.00.

ANESTHESIOLOGISTS encounter intense stress on a daily basis. The nature of the profession demands that they anticipate, recognize, and manage potentially lethal complications during the case of every patient. Interestingly, there is a situation that can be even more stressful for the anesthesiologist than those dreadful complications—taking the oral board examination.

The final stage of the board certification process requires the candidate to display, during simulated clinical scenarios, the qualities worthy of a professional consultant in anesthesiology. In addition to knowledge, however, a successful candidate should possess an appropriate level of judgment, application, adaptability, and clarity of expression. For those who have been taking written examinations all of their lives, the requirements may seem vague and subjective. Unfamiliarity with the format can be a critical weakness in taking this type of examination.

Board Stiff Too , the second edition of the very successful original, provides unconventional, yet indispensable, information to those who are knowledgeable of the particulars involved, yet unfamiliar with the oral board process. As represented by the title, this expanded version is unique among the professional textbooks and review books available. First, the tone and style of the text cannot be more conversational and empathetic. The authors do not present themselves as superior to the reader, either intellectually or professionally. The only difference is experience. These authors already have gone through the process of taking and passing the oral examination. As a result, the authors quickly establish intense emotional bonding with a trusting and receptive readership. The authors represent friends, not enemies. Second, Board Stiff Too  delivers content not found in any other review book. It focuses on strategies and advice. It basically compiles all recurrent advice and tips floating around the operating room area during the frenzy time just before the examination. Board Stiff Too  will not teach you how to practice anesthesiology well, but it may teach you how to prepare for an oral examination. The new and improved edition is divided into three sections. The first section, “Driving School,” contains advice on strategies for preparation, common reasons for failure, and the examination format. The second section, “Mechanic's Manual,” contains a general overview of problems associated with vital signs, equipment, airway, obstetrics, trauma, pediatrics, and so on. By no means is the information here sufficient to prepare for the examination, but then, that is not the purpose of the section. The third section, “Test Tract,” provides simulated test outlines and answers mixed with personal critiques.

The authors expect two things of the readers. First, the reader must have already acquired a sufficient base of knowledge to pass the examination. Second, the reader must repeatedly practice mock oral examinations aloud before the actual examination. Without either of these two factors, this book is not going to serve its sole purpose: to help the reader pass the oral board examination. In short, Board Stiff Too  is ideal for the candidate with sufficient knowledge, who needs to familiarize him or herself with the examination format and develop appropriate strategies for expressing knowledge and judgment.