Test Your Knowledge!

December 2, 2009


By Daniel B. Hier, MD, MBA, FAAN, AAN.com Education Editor

In a recent article on AAN.com, I posed the question, "How Much Knowledge Does a Neurologist Need?" Although we clearly need a lot of knowledge—certainly in excess of 50,000 chunks1 —I have argued that one approach to the knowledge explosion is to develop a strategy of "just-in-time-knowledge," in which we become skilled at finding new knowledge to apply as we need to apply it. Nonetheless, it is useful to have a good sense of what we know and what we don't know.

Types of Knowledge

As neurologists, we possess different types of neurologic knowledge. For some of the disorders that we regularly and confidently manage, we possess deep or intimate knowledge. For example, experts on multiple sclerosis are likely to possess deep knowledge about the presentation, epidemiology, prognosis, and treatment of the disease. On the other hand, when confronted with a disorder for which we have limited experience, our knowledge may be shallow or superficial.

Recently, I encountered a case of myelopathy due to copper deficiency. It was a disorder that I had never seen before. I did not know the treatment protocol or the symptom complex. My first reaction was to seek just-in-time-knowledge with a quick trip to the online version of Harrison Online.

Test Your Knowledge: Deep or Shallow?

The AAN provides an excellent online tool for testing your neurologic knowledge. On several pages within the website—including the home page—members can access the archives of Test Your Knowledge. Be sure to sign on with your member number or member ID so that AAN.com can track you performance on this useful tool.

The Test Your Knowledge feature was created by members of the Distance Learning Subcommittee of the Education Committee (led by Peter R. Bergethon, MD, Barbara Scherokman, MD, FAAN, FACP, and Norman S. Werdiger, MD, FAAN, and staffed by Mike Petkovich). The archive contains 61 topical questions in neurology, covering everything from headache to multiple sclerosis. The tool allows members to compare their knowledge in each subject area with a sample of more than 1,000 members who have used the Test Your Knowledge feature. After completing all 61 items, I compared my knowledge expressed in percent of correct answers (blue line) with the overall membership scores (red line):

I created the radar graph using Microsoft Excel.

I was pleased to see that I did pretty well in most areas. Based on my profile on Test Your Knowledge, I plan to do a little extra reading in stroke, multiple sclerosis, aging, and infectious diseases. You can test your knowledge and,find out your score, and discover your strengths and weaknesses as well!


1 See Herbert Simon. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2nd Edition, 1981; p. 107.

Author Disclosure

Within the past 24 months, Dr. Hier received compensation for medical legal consulting. In the same period he gave expert testimony in medical malpractice cases.