Thursday, January 19, 2017

SPEX TEST: A DECEPTIVE EXAM AND WHERE TO FIND HELP


SPEX TUTORIAL SERVICES



     Special Examination (SPEX) is a complex test designed to examine a physician’s fund of knowledge. Federation of State Medical Boards is the creator of this exam. Physicians who have been out of practice for an extended period of time, depending on their state medical board’s regulations, are required to take this test.

     Within the structure of the current exam 336 questions are the substance of this test. These questions are broken down into 7 segments with 64 minutes allocated for each section. Stated in another format each question is allotted 1.3 minutes. Passing grade is 75. States can amend the pass grade as they determine the necessity to. Taken over a one day period insufficient time is given to evaluate each question. The failure rate is high. Many physicians are forced to take this exam two or more times. Crucial to the examinees are the direction in which to apply their studies.

     Many books which are designated as SPEX references are either out of date and or inapplicable to the current test format. Federation of State Medical Boards literature is vague to the contents of this exam and misdirects the potential examinee on which information to study. For the aforementioned reasons SPEX TUTORIAL SERVICES came into being.

     A “One on One” tutorial with Mark Davis MD, who has extensive knowledge of the SPEX exam’s contents, will emphasize key study areas. Recurrent question formats will be discussed in depth. Areas of study applicable to the SPEX, not mentioned in reference literature will be analyzed extensively. Esoteric subject matter from prior tests will be highlighted. Physicians have found this format with Dr. Davis extremely helpful in their studies to pass the SPEX exam and get back into practice.

     Tuition rate for a one on one tutorial with Dr. Davis is $250 per hour. Many physicians purchase 1-2 hours at a time. As the course of their studies progress many doctors return for several more segments. With a physician’s study time limited Dr. Davis adapts his schedule closely  to that of the examinee.

    

      To schedule time with Dr. Davis please contact him in the following manners: by email at platomd@gmail.com  by office phone: 410-515-7848 or his service at 410-515-7858.

Monday, January 16, 2017

FROM TEHRAN TO THE PROMISED LAND

A LIFE WORTH KNOWING

Superbly written this book discusses the trials and tribulations of a person who exchanged cultures for freedoms not found at home. From Tehran to the Land of the Free is a story of discovery, perseverance and vision. Mitra Thompson, the author, discusses the erosion of Iranian society as she matured into an adult. As a consequence of her observations her family gave up much to move away from the oncoming repression experienced by those who did not follow the national religion. America was beckoning her to come and taste rights not enjoyed by women in her former homeland. As the pleasures and pains of life unfurled for Mitra in her new home the author grasped enthusiastically each new life setting as it unfurled. I found this book intuitive, heart warming and unique in it story telling. This one book which should be part of your collection. Mark Davis, MD

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Draining the swamp: American education is ripe for improvement


Commentary by James Shott


Among the many hot topics since Donald Trump won election as the 45th President of the United States is America’s education system. Once at the top of the nations of the world in educating its young, America has lost ground.

Jon Guttman, Research Director of the World History Group, wrote in 2012 that “[a]s recently as 20 years ago, the United States was ranked No.1 in high school and college education,” and that “[i]n 2009, the United States was ranked 18th out of 36 industrialized nations.” He attributes that decline to “complacency and inefficiency, reflective of lower priorities in education, and inconsistencies among the various school systems.”

In 2010 at a Paris meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), President Barack Obama’s first Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who served from 2009 through 2015, said this:

“Before the 1960s, almost all policymaking and education funding was a state and local responsibility. In the mid-1960s, the federal role expanded to include enforcing civil rights laws to ensure that poor, minority, and disabled students, as well as English language learners, had access to a high-quality education.

“As the federal role in education grew,” Duncan said, “so did the bureaucracy,” adding that the U.S. Department of Education often “operated more like a compliance machine, instead of an engine of innovation,” and that it concerned itself with the details of formula funding, and not with educational outcomes or equity.

He went on to say that the United States needed to challenge the status quo, and to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. Five years later, the U.S. still lagged behind many other countries.

The findings in the 2015 Program International Student Assessment (PISA), described by CNN as “a benchmark of education systems conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a grouping of the world's richest economies,” finds the U.S. education system improved since the last assessment in 2012 in the areas of science, math and reading.

However, that improvement leaves American students ranked behind the students of 24 other countries, among the 72 participating nations. Teens in Singapore, Japan and Estonia led the more than half a million 15-year-olds in the 2015 assessment, the primary focus of which was science, with math as the primary focus in 2012.

President Jimmy Carter signed the federal Department of Education into law in 1979, and since it became active the following year, American education has gotten worse, as measured by these international assessments. Marginal or negative performance is not unusual for federal agencies, however. President-Elect Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan before him, has called for abolishing the Department of Education, citing the need to cut spending.

Looking back to the formative years of the republic, we find the Founders established only four cabinet level activities: foreign relations through the State Department; national defense through the Department of War (now Defense); taxation and spending through the Department of the Treasury; and enforcement of federal law through the Attorney General (now the Department of Justice).

The increase of federal agencies has no doubt produced some benefits, but does their performance justify the costs incurred?  They have produced huge growth in government control of our lives, and enormous expense. Today there are nearly four times as many cabinet level agencies as the Founders thought necessary.

The federal education effort has many sins on its list, but the primary sin is the shifting of control of local schools to Washington by dangling federal dollars in front of state school officials, which they can earn in return for giving up some degree of control over their schools. Federal influences also contribute to the infestation of standardized testing, which in moderation can provide benefits, but when a typical student takes 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade, that is over the edge. Eighth-graders, it is said, spend an average of 25.3 hours on standardized testing.

Trump has named Betsy DeVos to become education secretary. Her bio explains that in education she “has been a pioneer in fighting to remove barriers, to enact change and to create environments where people have the opportunity to thrive,” and that her political efforts are focused on advancing educational choices. She currently chairs the American Federation for Children.

Like all of Trump’s cabinet selections so far, DeVos is seen as unqualified, criticized for her lack of experience in education and for pushing to “give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools, pressed to expand publicly funded but privately run charter schools, and trying to strip teacher unions of their influence,” according to an unflattering story in The New York Times.

Perhaps the contrary is true, however. Given the lackluster performance of the Department of Education when run by apparently qualified people, someone with other strengths just might be able to turn the department into a positive influence on what is broadly considered a mediocre education system.

Schools are best operated by those closest to the students, so returning control to states and localities will be a good first step.

Cross-posted from Observations

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Trigger warning: Immigration problems are being discussed here

Commentary by James Shott

Immigration ought to be one of a nation’s primary concerns, and after the last eight years of lax enforcement of immigration law and the horrible consequences to some individual Americans at the hands of some illegal aliens, President-Elect Donald Trump faces the screaming need to make changes to the immigration process once he is sworn in, and he has stated the desire to do so.

President Barack Obama touts his record on deportations, which some say is nearly 3,000,000 illegal aliens. That certainly is a good thing, but like Paul Harvey famously provided his listeners for so many years, here’s the rest of the story.

The Obama administration did not go around the country rounding up and deporting illegal aliens, some of whom are criminals with varying degrees of violent behavior, including murder. Instead, the Border Patrol caught these nearly three million illegals near the Mexican border as they were entering the country, and turned them around to head back south. Better than nothing, certainly, but far less laudable than that for which Obama takes credit.

In the meantime, the many millions of illegals that have found their way into the country remain, many of them in self-proclaimed “sanctuary” jurisdictions, where local officials brag that they will protect the illegals – criminals and non-criminals alike – from being discovered and deported, or otherwise dealt with as federal law provides.

Like his failure to identify and correctly label radical Muslims who commit terrorism in America and elsewhere, Obama’s failure to properly address illegal immigration will forever be near the top of his lengthy failure list.

It is said, and in proper context it is true, that America is a nation of immigrants. In the earliest days everyone who came to the colonies was an immigrant, and after the colonies gained independence and formed the new nation many other immigrants came to America over the decades and did their part to build and strengthen the nation. But the idea that America still needs immigrants to make it successful and desirable is ridiculous.

American culture was established long ago, so we no longer have a burning need for immigrants for that purpose, or for any purpose. These days, with the foolish suspension of border and immigration control, largely during the term of Barack Obama, the millions of illegal aliens in the country today often weaken our country and pose threats to Americans.

Our country belongs to Americans, those of us whose families have been here for more than a few years, families that have been here for generations. Our Founders created a nation with a unique set of principles from which deep traditions were formed that have survived more than two centuries since the United States came into existence.

We have our ways of doing things – our culture – and a body of laws that evolved from that culture. Americans decide how things are done here, and those who want to come here from places near and far, and places often much different, and many far worse than America, are expected to adapt to our way of doing things.

What sense does it make to do what is required to get to America legally from countries hundreds or thousands of miles away, become a US citizen, and then maintain an allegiance to the land you wanted to get away from instead having an allegiance to America? Or to try to institute the culture of the home you left to come here? If you don’t want to adapt to our way of life – to become an American – why did you come here?

Our policy ought to be: If you want to come here, and you agree to embrace our culture and to assimilate into the American way of believing, living and behaving, and you are a good and honest person with something positive to contribute to America, you will be considered acceptable to apply for citizenship.

What we don’t need, don’t want, and must not abide is people coming here illegally, even if they do so because they truly want a better life in the US. And we also can’t allow those to immigrate here whose national allegiance lies with a country other than the United States. Be an American; accept the country as it is, not as you want it to be. Do not be, for example, a Nicaraguan that lives in America.

Every American needs to understand that there is no divine right held by citizens of other countries to come to America, either asvisitors, immigrants, or as refugees. And further understand that America has no obligation to accept people who want to come here. We can accept them, or not, as we choose.

However, America does have the right, and the obligation, to control who it allows into the country, to be sure they are fit to be here, and have something beneficial to offer us.

America became the great and wonderful country that it is through decades of honoring and sustaining its founding principles, and not by kowtowing to the demands of every dissatisfied minority group that believes its desires are more important than our heritage.

Cross-posted from Observations

Friday, December 30, 2016

We need to learn to appreciate what America’s Founders gave us

Commentary by James Shott



Donald Trump was unofficially declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election early in the morning on November 9, and that victory survived the slow vote counting in some states, and challenges of voting irregularities. And last Monday that victory was finally verified when the electors of the 50 states and the District of Columbia that comprise the Electoral College gathered in their respective districts to officially cast their votes.

The integrity of the Electoral College survived both the illegal and legal efforts of Trump opponents to bribe, intimidate or otherwise persuade Trump electors to not vote for him, with unexpected results: While a few electors did not vote as they were instructed by the voters they represented, the vast majority did as they should have done. And Trump won this contest, too. Of the 538 electors only seven of them did not vote according to the voting in their districts. Five of the “faithless” electors withheld their vote from Hillary Clinton, while only two withheld their vote from Trump.

Democrats and liberals have been crazy since the election, and now want the Electoral College to go the way of those thousands of missing emails from Clinton’s private server, since she won the popular vote by 2.1 percent, but lost the electoral vote. However, the Electoral College did precisely what it was designed to do; it did not “misfire,” as the Clinton camp charges.

The opinions of scholars and other commentators uphold the value of the Electoral College. For example, The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky explains: “In creating the basic architecture of the American government, the Founders struggled to satisfy each state’s demand for greater representation while attempting to balance popular sovereignty against the risk posed to the minority from majoritarian rule.”

In addition to those concerns, “as students of ancient history, the Founders feared the destructive passions of direct democracy, and as recent subjects of an overreaching monarch, they equally feared the rule of an elite unresponsive to the will of the people. The Electoral College was a compromise, neither fully democratic nor aristocratic,” writes Jarrett Stepman, an editor for The Daily Signal.

The University of Buffalo’s James Campbell explains that had the popular vote been the mechanism that chose the president, candidates would have focused their campaigns on the population centers, ignoring the rest of the country. And he further suggests that then voters probably would have behaved differently, too. Many in the less populated areas, for example, might have stayed home, feeling that their vote didn’t matter, effectively disenfranchising them.

California essentially provided Clinton the 2.8 million votes that comprised her popular vote victory. The Electoral College protected the interests of those millions of Americans who do not live in the population centers.

The other side of that argument is that under the Electoral College system, candidates would limit their campaigns to the swing states, producing a similar effect as the popular vote method does. However, swing states change from time to time, whereas population centers do not.

Looking at the final version of the electoral map, Clinton’s strength lay primarily in the coastal areas and a few spots in the middle, while Trump’s support covered a tall and wide swath across the area between the coasts. Clinton’s ballot power came primarily from New York, California and Chicago, the population centers, while the huge area of the country that went for Trump covers primarily small towns/cities and sparsely populated areas, the heartland of America.

And that is the value of the Electoral College system: it protects Americans in flyover country from the tyranny of big city dwellers, who generally have a much different set of values and desires. And remember that the president’s job is to act in the best interests of the entire country, not to satisfy the desires of a voting majority or of the big cities.

What if instead of the football team that scores the most points winning the game, the winner is the team that gained the most yards? That is a similar situation to electing a president: The number of votes – like the number of yards – is not necessarily the most important factor.

So don't do away with the Electoral College, as the spurned Clinton voters want. It provides the balance of national interests the Founders understood was necessary.

One change that makes sense is to stop having electors that must get together in a formal ceremony to vote. Since the results are known when the vote count is done, this step is unnecessary; it serves no useful purpose, costs money, delays the finalizing of the voter’s decision, and provides losing parties an opportunity for harmful mischief, as we witnessed.

And while the aggrieved are creating mischief, they are also building false hopes, which will cause even more grief when their mischief fails to change the results of the election, and generates bad feelings that will endure long after the election is over.

These days some group wants to change virtually everything about America that made it the unqualified success it has been since it was founded.

Stop trying to change it and instead enjoy its abundant benefits.

Cross-posted from Observations

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yes, the campaign was wild and crazy, and the aftermath is, too!

Commentary by James Shott

The election of Donald Trump on November 8 set off waves of emotion, both positive and negative. Usually, such feelings wane and normalcy returns after several days, but three weeks later much of the negativism remains, and may have intensified.

Some of the reactions to the election strike many as farcical, even phantasmagoric. Many of the reactions strike directly at the very traditions and history of America and its people. Unsurprisingly, much of the craziest stuff arises on college campuses.

** A liberal arts college in western Massachusetts has taken down the American flag on campus until next semester in hopes it will free up students to have a “direct, open, and respectful conversation.”

You see, some view the flag at the center of the Hampshire College campus as a symbol of racism and hatred, and following the election, some students called for its removal.

The flag was pulled down and burned early one morning, and quickly replaced. But then the College Board decided the flag would be flown at half-staff, a decision that angered veterans and military families. The solution, the College decided, was to take the campus flag down until next semester, but not to ban all flags on the campus.

** Among the nation’s highly respected institutions of higher learning is the University of Virginia (UVA), founded nearly 200 years ago by Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States.

After UVA President Teresa Sullivan quoted Jefferson in a campus-wide email encouraging students to stay resilient and hopeful while trying to recover from the distress suffered after the election, some students and faculty objected to the Jefferson quote.

A letter reportedly signed by 469 students and faculty said, in part: “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

One might expect students and faculty at an institution of higher learning to be capable of appreciating that a positive message including a quote from the school’s famous founder is not necessarily rendered meaningless by the fact that Jefferson owned slaves. Such efforts by the easily offended on the left to erase elements of the nation’s history they don’t like in order to create the pretty and clean image that matches their fantasy is fundamentally dishonest.

While much of this activity has taken place on college campuses, it seems this craziness exists elsewhere in the U.S.

** An anti-Trump organization named “The #NotMyPresident Alliance” has exposed electors of the Electoral College to the whims of people who don’t want Trump to win the Electoral College vote by releasing personal information on the electors, including the personal phone numbers, addresses, religions, races, genders, and candidate preference of the electors. 

According to Buzzfeed.com, “The group hopes that its members and citizens around the country will contact electors and persuade them to change their vote from Donald Trump to another candidate before Dec. 19” when electors meet to cast their votes.

One wonders how many electors will be threatened by Trump opponents?

** Here’s an item that might produce cries of “Yes! Go for it!” People in the Golden State are calling for secession.

"The relationship between California and the federal system just isn't working," said one of those leading the protest, complaining that federal tax money paid by Californians “isn't adequately supporting aging infrastructure and public programs in the state.” He and a small group paced in front of the state capitol, chanting, "What do we want? Calexit! When do we want it? Now!"

Amid signs proclaiming "Free Hugs" and "Not my president," and some profane Trump chants, he said Trump’s election proves that America is failing. “So then the question becomes, do you want to go down with the sinking ship, knowing that you have a ship that's able to sail the international economy on its own?" California dreaming is alive and well.

** The Department of Justice charged the Denver Sheriffs Department for discriminating against illegal aliens in the hiring of deputy sheriffs. In response to this outrageous development, the Sheriffs Office did precisely the wrong thing: it worked out a settlement that included a $10,000 fine and agreed to change its job requirements to allow illegals to apply and perhaps be hired. The appropriate response: “No dice. We’ll decide who is qualified to serve our citizens, and illegal aliens in our country and state are not qualified.”

Why would anyone think it’s acceptable to hire people who broke the law when they came here to serve as law enforcement officers? It is not discrimination to exclude illegals and criminals from these jobs; it is common sense.

America is not about the majority bowing down to a minority who want to change long-standing traditions and practices they don’t like. We can’t allow ignorance and emotion to rule.

We just celebrated Thanksgiving, expressing our gratitude for the blessings we now have. Looking to next Thanksgiving, perhaps these misguided Americans will have realized that these things and the thoughts behind them are not what America is all about.

Cross-posted from Observations

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Trump transition is well underway, despite his enemies’ wishes

Commentary by James Shott


Two weeks after the presidential election, things are moving forward for President-Elect Donald Trump, who is busy selecting individuals for administration posts. 

Last week, Trump’s first two appointments were Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and former head of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, as chief strategist. 

Amid assessments of the transition’s first few days as chaotic and on the cusp of failure, Bannon’s choice drew sharp criticism from the leftist Trump opponents and the major media, who are determined to criticize most everything Trump’s team does or says. 

Next came the choice of retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as director of the CIA, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.) for Attorney General, subject to Senate approval, and meetings Saturday with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, thought to be a candidate for secretary of state, and with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who is said to be a potential contender for defense secretary.

Meetings with potential selectees continued through the weekend, stoking the fires of speculation about who might go where and, of course, the predictable Democrat opposition’s criticism of people under consideration, as well as those already chosen.

As bad a choice as media and political enemies believe Trump to be, so far his transition is right on schedule.

Saturday, Trump took action to remove what likely would have become a big distraction to organizing his administration, doing so prior to being sworn in, and which likely would have continued at least into the early months of his presidency. Agreeing to a settlement of $25 million, three lawsuits aimed at Trump University have been resolved. The agreement also includes $1 million in penalties to the state of New York.

Former students of the school claimed that they paid thousands of dollars to learn Trump’s real estate success secrets, but contended that they were lured into paying up to $35,000 to learn from instructors hand-picked by Trump, which they claim did not happen.

The settlement was negotiated between Trump’s lawyers and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the law firm that brought the suit against the now closed school. The settlement does not require an admission of guilt from Trump, but Trump’s organization issued a statement that said, "We are pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University. While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation."

If there is a downside to settling the lawsuits, it is that we may never know which side is right. Did Trump defraud the students, or is it merely an opportunity seized upon by students and lawyers hoping for a big payout?

Removing what would have become a huge distraction enables Trump to get on with the business of organizing his presidency, even as his political enemies occupy themselves with petty criticisms about appointments and who he is talking with, suggestions of who he should be talking with, and arguing about whether it was FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the email investigation or the Electoral College that defeated Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

Democrats have begun a move to have the Electoral College, the Constitutional mechanism to determine who becomes president, replaced by the popular vote. At the Constitutional Convention, several methods of electing a president were considered, but the Founders well knew the dangers of consolidated power. After much debate and compromise they devised a system that instead distributed power more broadly, balancing federal powers with those of the states, and providing a voice to all states, not just the most populous. 

As Heritage Foundation legal expert Hans von Spakovsky noted: “In creating the basic architecture of the American government, the Founders struggled to satisfy each state’s demand for greater representation while attempting to balance popular sovereignty against the risk posed to the minority from majoritarian rule.”

And the result has been that the Electoral College has provided stability to the process of picking presidents. Though the national popular vote winner typically wins the presidency, that vote failed to determine the winner in four previous elections: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000, and the republic survived quite well, thank you.

And the wisdom of the Founders has once again been proven in the 2016 election where the least desirable candidate, Hillary Clinton, wound up with a comparatively thin popular vote margin of 50.6 percent of the vote to Trump’s 49.4 percent; 1.4 million votes out of 124.7 million, meaning that Clinton got 1.15 more votes per hundred voters than Trump did. 

A margin this thin is well within the margin of error of political polling, and hardly worthy of the hysteria that has been demonstrated by this miniscule difference in vote totals.

What this effort does best is illustrate the level of desperation, disbelief and unwillingness to accept the outcome that is so firmly ingrained into the political left and their sub-faction, the major national media.

But as before, the republic will endure and thrive.

Cross-posted from Observations