Category Archives: Core Clerkships

Books for the required clerkships and rotations

How to Reset MKSAP Answers

Since reviewing MKSAP 4 for students previously, we have received a question and several lost googlers trying to ascertain how to reset or restart MKSAP for Students 3, MKSAP for Students 4, and even MKSAP 14 for residents digital question banks.

Resetting these qbanks is straight-forward if you know where to look.  Regardless of whether you are using MKSAP 3, MKSAP 4, or MKSAP 14, the process is generally the same. Just click on Answer Sheet, followed by the Clear Answers button.  That’s it!  You’re all set to restart and reuse your MKSAP question bank.  For the visual learners out there, large purple arrows always help:

How to Reset MKSAP for Students 3 and MKSAP for Students 4

How to Reset MKSAP for Students 3 and MKSAP for Students 4

For the wayward residents who stumbled onto this med student resource site, we’ve also uploaded a visual on how to reset MKSAP 14 as well.

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Must Buy: Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple ReviewClinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple edition 5 by Mark Gladwin is another one of those must-have best books you can safely purchase upon entering medical school.  The focus is to overview all of the bugs (microbiology pathogens) and drugs that medical students encounter in preclinical Microbiology, the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams, and the wards.

Whether you are incredibly interested in Microbiology or find it to be a gigantic anxiety provoking and overwhelming burden on your medical school career, Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple will keep you sane.  The strength of the book is taking the daunting task of mass memorization and breaking it down into digestible memorable portions, and using very silly drawings (see collage below). The drawings themselves are either produced by a really bad adult artist, or a really talented second grader. Either way, they have a habit of really sticking.  I have yet to forget that salmonella hangs out in the gallbladder, despite never being tested on that factoid. In all actuality, the book might as well be named Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculous, because that’s what you’re getting. The book even has its own set of cited “Mneomonists” that helped with the ridiculousness.

If you’re into serious reads, this is not the book for you. The reader of Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple needs to be able to laugh and/or eye-roll at the images. The text itself is completely accurate, though one of the ongoing complaints of this book (and series) is the typos and grammatical errors that pop up (they’re an off-label publisher). The only other people who complain are the hardcore Microbiology PhD students who really do just want a serious text to hit nitty gritty advanced details for which you won’t be responsible to any reasonable degree whilst in medical school.

This book is specifically designed for review and ground up learning for the microbiology newbie.  I continue to pull it out for boards and wards, specifically including Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, and Ob/Gyn (STDs are everywhere!).  Individual sections include an Introduction to Bacteria, Gram Positive Bacteria, Gram Negative Bacteria, Acid Fast Bacteria, Bacteria Without Cell Walls, Anti-Bacterial Medications, Fungi, Viruses, Parasites, Very Strange Critters (prions), Antimicrobial Resistance, and a final chapter on Agents of Bioterrorism.  Remember that microbiology and pharmacology books can give a good overview of antibiotic selection, but medical practices should utilize local data on bug susceptibility to direct care.

Overall, Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple is highly recommended as one of the best microbiology textbooks available to medical students, to be complemented with MicroCards to enhance learning.  I leave you with a sampling:

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple Collage

Most common cause of the common cold: rhinovirus and coronaviridae. Now it is burned into your brain and you will never forget.

 

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Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

The purpose of this site is to utilize the first-hand experiences of medical students to create insightful advice when it comes to books and resources.  While many of the resources posted so far have had very positive reviews, it is finally time to recommend avoiding the mistake known as Blueprints Pediatrics.

There are a few reasons why this is a common pitfall for third year med students looking for books on their pediatrics rotation.  First, it is relatively cheap and easy to come by.  Even if you don’t buy it yourself, it’s easy to pick up a free copy that is being given (thrown) away in a med student lounge. Keep in mind it’s being given away for free for a reason.

Secondly, and perhaps the more evil of its qualities, is that it is incredibly easy to read, and herein lies the deceit: reading through Blueprints Pediatrics will make you feel like a medical student superstar genius. You can pick this book up, breeze through any chapter quickly, and feel like you know most of the information already because of your USMLE Step 1 knowledge. Whereas some books really bog the reader down on details, Blueprints Pediatrics takes the exact opposite approach. The end result is a med student who believes they possess mastery of the material for their pediatrics clerkship, when in reality they are ill prepared for the NBME Pediatrics Shelf Exam, NBME Ambulatory Shelf Exam, or wards pimping.

Chapter topics appear like they cover all the bases, but the depth of content is just shallow.  The material it does present is accurate, and there is nothing grossly wrong with the book as far as what it does give.  It just doesn’t give what is truly needed.

As such, I won’t be linking out to online retailers to purchase this book, or using our handy Price Check plugin.  Instead, I recommend Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics (reviewed here), as well as Pre-Test Pediatrics for USMLE style questions.  Better yet, just check back to the section on this site for Pediatrics Books from time to time, as more books are reviewed and added.

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Pre-Test Pediatrics USMLE style QBank, Great for the Peds Clerkship

PreTest Pediatrics USMLE Style Qbank Questions

PreTest Pediatrics USMLE Style Qbank

PreTest Pediatrics is the resource to pick up for USMLE style Pediatrics Qbank questions. Pediatrics as a field unfortunately doesn’t have its share of amazing high yield resources for med students. We are usually left choosing between First Aid for the Pediatrics Clerkship (upcoming review), Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics (reviewed here), or just hitting up the internet. The problem is that the information tested on the NBME shelf exam focuses on content you will not see on your pediatrics rotation, whether it is outpatient or inpatient.

Nevertheless, on the NBME Pediatrics shelf exam, NBME ambulatory (outpatient) shelf exam, and USMLE Step 2 CK exam, you will need to know the differential diagnosis for things like “child presents with limp.”  Do you remember ever going over that in your preclinical classes?  Yeah, that’s because most med schools don’t hit such topics.  This is precisely where PreTest comes in to boost your scores.

Chapters cover General Pediatrics, the Newborn Infant, Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System (this one is vital for the shelf!), Gastrointestinal System, Urinary Tract, Neuromuscular System, Infectious Disease and Immunology, Hematologic and Neoplastic Diseases, Endocrine, Metabolis, Genetic Disorders, and the Adolescent.

The book has a good number of black and white images to offer.  It would have been nicer in color, but the pathology they are trying to illustrate is actually pretty clear. The ends of each chapter also have matching style questions, but the majority are your usual USMLE style multiple choice qbank questions. Answer explanations are satisfying for both correct and incorrect answer choices, and build upon themselves as you continue reading the book and hit on similar topics.

The differential for child presenting with limp is one of those things that can be solved on USMLE board and NBME shelf exams just by looking at the patient’s age (much like the leukemias).  To really solidify all the additional and weird diseases you most likely won’t see on your Pediatrics clerkship but will most assuredly be tested on, pick up a copy of PreTest Pediatrics.

 

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Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics – A Solid Med Student Reference Book

Nelson's Essentials of Pediatrics, Solid Med School Reference Book for the Pediatrics Clerkship

Nelson's Essentials of Pediatrics, A Solid Med School Reference Book for the Pediatrics Clerkship

There really aren’t a ton of great pediatrics books out there for the core clerkship, but Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics is just a solid reference book to provide the basis of med student studying.  It represents the condensed version of the 2680-page full version, Nelson’s Textbook of Pediatrics, often times referred to as the Pediatric Bible.  Nelson’s Essentials hits all the key common pediatrics issues, but at 864 pages, it’s a balance between manageable and comprehensive. Still, you’ll have to pick and choose which chapters are read straight through, because you won’t be able to shotgun this entire book in a reasonable amount of time.

The best study technique for pediatrics is to actually use a reference book such as this or Rudolph’s Fundamentals of Pediatrics (to be reviewed later) along with a number of question books such as Pre-Test Pediatrics, as well as online resources like UpToDate. Referencing Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics on each of your assigned patients is a great way to prepare for imminent pimping.  Again, as a larger book, it’s tough to read cover to cover, or even carry around to the wards, but it is reliable. With that being said, it also comes with Student Consult, which means you can scratch-off the key code inside the front cover to get access to the book electronically. As usual, this is perfect while roaming around the pediatric floors, and for snagging images for formal presentations.

Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics has some easy to understand, straight forward (but not overly amazing) diagrams and graphs. Again, it gets the job done.  The 204 Chapters are grouped into the following units: The Profession of Pediatrics, Growth and Development, Behavioral Disorders, Psychiatric Disorders, Psychosocial Issues (which comes up a lot on the pediatrics rotation), Pediatric Nutrition, Fluids and Electrolytes, The Acutely Ill or Injured Child (perfect for Pediatric Emergency as well), Human Genetics and Dysmorphology, Metabolic Disorders, Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, Adolescent Medicine, Immunology, Allergy, Rheumatic Disorders of Childhood, Infectious Diseases, Digestive System, Respiratory System, Cardiovascular System, Hematology, Oncology, Nephrology and Urology, Endocrinology, Neurology (useful for the Neurology shelf exam), Dermatology, and Orthopedics.

Again, this is a solid reference book, and a good companion during the Pediatric Clerkship.

 

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Must Buy: ACP MKSAP For Students 4

American College of Physicians' Medical Knowledge Self Assessment Program (MKSAP) 4

American College of Physicians' Medical Knowledge Self Assessment Program (MKSAP) 4

The American College of Physicians (ACP) produces a number of resources, but MKSAP For Students 4 is one of the best things they have to offer medical students on inpatient internal medicine or outpatient primary care medicine clerkships. There are a number of USMLE style question banks and books out there, but this one really covers all the bases in these fields.  In case you were wondering, it stands for the “Medical Knowledge Self Assessment Program”.

More valuable than the physical text itself is the CD that comes with every copy.  Questions can be loaded directly onto a computer, which comes in handy if you like to study around town with a laptop. Your progress and answer choices are tracked and can easily be reset at any time. My personal favorite use is loading the question bank onto my smart phone so I can listen to music and answer questions while waiting for the bus.  Keep in mind that certain Android browsers do not support linking through websites that are on the phone itself.  All this means is that you will need to hit the back button and load a new question from the browser instead of just hitting “Next” on the question page itself.

There are a number of different MKSAP question sets, which gets confusing. Bottom line: As a medical student searching for a good book, get MKSAP 4, followed by MKSAP 3 if desired.  An article will be posted soon regarding all the differences, including the higher numbered books.

As for MKSAP 4, it covers all the expected topics, complete with dermatology images and EKG interpretations. Specific chapters include Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, General Internal Medicine, Hematology, Infectious Disease, Nephrology, Neurology, Oncology, Pulmonary Medicine, Rheumatology.  By the end of the book, you will know every etiology of common presentations such as cough, chest pain, abdominal pain, etc. It really is a great tool for inpatient Internal Medicine, outpatient Internal Medicine, a large portion of Family Medicine, shelf exams, and the USMLE Step 2 CK exam.

 

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Must Buy: Pocket Medicine, AKA The Red Book (now Green Book)

Pocket Medicine: The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Internal Medicine

Must Have: Pocket Medicine

Pocket Medicine, by Marc Sabatine out of Mass General is the best go-to reference for any medical student or resident, and an essential item for any white coat pocket while on Internal Medicine.  On the wards, preceptors will readily refer to “The Green Book” (which is just the newest edition after “The Red Book“) to highlight key information pertinent to a differential diagnosis, equation, criteria, diagnostic test, or treatment of your patients.  The two are pretty similar, and the Red Book will be fine, especially for those not going into Internal Medicine. However if you want the best and latest information with slightly superior organization, you should definitely go with the Green Book.

The best strategy is to briefly reference the appropriate topic just before and after seeing your patient, but before you meet up with your Internal Medicine residents or attendings.  If nothing more, this offers fantastic overviews of specific diseases and issues for your short term memory, which comes as an excellent support upon meeting sudden but inevitable pimping.

Specific sections include everything you would expect in Internal Medicine: Cardiology, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology, Neprhology, Hematology-Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Rheumatology, and Neurology. It also has a handy image index and list of common abbreviations to ensure you don’t accidentally mistake “I’s & O’s” for “eyes and nose” on the wards.

Pocket Medicine is a great aid to help you look like a knowledgeable all-star, and highly recommended if you are gunning for Honors.   This really is the best ace up your white coat sleeve.

 

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First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship

First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship, by Latha Stead

First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship, by Latha Stead

Latha Stead’s First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship is the only high yield resource that is needed for the Psychiatry rotation, and the best book for the Psychiatry shelf.  While the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will offer in depth criteria for each individual mental illness, it is best used in the clinical setting as an overview and diagnostic tool to confirm clinical suspicions. It also contains a ton of diagnoses that just aren’t needed for a medical school clerkship or shelf exam. First Aid Psych however goes over the core topics of the Psychiatry rotation, highlighting the criteria that will be on the NBME shelf exam, as well as up-to-date treatment options for any given disorder.   Furthermore, it is incredibly easy to read, and relatively short, making it the best 218 pages you could purchase to ace the Psych shelf exam.  Whether you love psych or find it incredibly boring, this is the book for you.

As with other books in the First Aid series, this one has a number of mnemonics, helpful hints, easy to understand algorithm charts, cases to prepare you for the wards, and general tips on how to succeed and impress your attendings.  It can be used for preclinical courses, the boards, and the wards.  Chapters specifically cover: Examination and Diagnosis, Psychotic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Anxiety and Adjustment Disorders, Personality Disorders, Substance-Related Disorders, Cognitive Disorders, Geriatric Disorders, Psychiatric Disorders in Children, Dissociative Disorders, Somataform and Factitious Disorders, Impulse Control Disorders, Eating Disordes, Disorders, Sleep Disorders, Sexual Disorders, Psychtherapies, Psychopharmacology, and Legal Issues.

 

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