Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology, 3rd Edition, AKA “Red Robbins,” is the best pathology USMLE style question bank/book for the boards, and a great complement to Goljan’s review books and audio. The true strength is mixing clinical scenarios with pathology concepts, which makes a topic that is easily boring for many medical students into a very relevant and high yield exercise in the thought process necessary for excelling in pre-clinical class exams, USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, and USMLE Step 3 boards.
The pertinent questions is: should this be used with a question bank such as USMLE World or Kaplan? The answer is definitively yes. At some point, you’re going to hit up Goljan (to be reviewed later), and this book is what will lock in that information with an alternate perspective on the same topics. This should not replace or be used as a substitute for a primary question bank. As for using it with “Big Robbins” or “Baby Robbins,” neither are really needed for the boards past Goljan. At times you may want to reference these resources for topics that require a bit more detail, but they are not a necessity, and can usually be borrowed from friends or the library. (Both of these will also be reviewed in more detail later.)
Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology does a particularly good job of pulling glossy high resolution color microscopic and gross images that are actually representative of the pathology being reviewed. This really is one of the most important aspects of any pathology teaching. Explanations are thorough, including why the wrong answers are wrong, and the questions are representative of what comes up on the boards.
The three major pathology review sections are comprehensive. Unit 1, General Pathology, covers Cellular Path, Acute and Chronic Inflammation, Tissue Renewal and Repair, Regeneration, Healing, Fibrosis, Hemodynamic Disorders, Thromboembolic Disease, Shock, Genetic Disorders, Diseases of Immunity, Neoplasia, Infectious Disease, Environmental and Nutritional Diseases, and Diseases of Infancy and Childhood. Unit 2, Organ Systemic Pathology, has individual chapters on Blood Vessels, the Heart, Diseases of White Blood Cells, Lymph Nodes, the Spleen, the Thymus, Red Blood Cells and Bleeding Disorders, the Lung, Head and Neck Pathology, the Gastrointestinal Tract, Liver and Biliary Tracts, the Pancreas, the Kidney, the male and female lower urinary tract, the Breast, the Endocrine System, the Skin / Bones / Soft Tissue Tumors, Peripheral Nerve and Skeletal Muscle, the Central Nervous System, and the Eye. Clearly, all of these chapters combined hit every organ system from the large to the microscopic, but I listed them as a reference. The final Unit III, Integrative Reviews, has two long chapters on Clinical Pathology and a Final Review and Assessment that combines information from prior chapters. Robbins and Cotran Pathology Review can also be purchased for Kindle as an eBook on Amazon, but that is not recommended.