Tag Archives: Anatomy
Anatomy – the first huge hurdle for many medical students to climb over. The anatomical knowledge gleaned in this first course will be used repeatedly as part of the foundation of medical knowledge. With that in mind, a solid foundation of resources is an absolute must. Frank Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy has been the gold standard of anatomy books for many years. Professors stand by the atlas and will expect you to memorize most, if not all, of those beautifully colored structures in the Netter plates.
That being said, it is important to introduce the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy by Gilroy. Its 2,200 beautiful images have been painstakingly drawn by Markus Voll and Karl Wesker, and appear to jump off the page. The book takes a different approach from other atlases, by starting with deep structures and working its way superficially. This allows for an understanding of the foundation of the body and how the other structures add on to it. At the end of each section, questions are posed to allow the reader to integrate the knowledge they have learned.
The book not only covers gross anatomy, but also illustrates peripheral innervations, arterial supply and venous drainage, lymphatics, etc. The anatomy is bolstered by clinical correlations, and important details are summarized in wonderfully easy-to-understand tables. The Muscle Fact pages organize the essentials of origin, insertion, innervations in one place, making it much easier to memorize and review. The book also comes with access to WinkingSkull.com PLUS, Thieme’s online resource and study aid, which gives the user access to over 600 plates with removable labels, and quizzing capabilities.
The largest, and only, detriment to using the Thieme atlas is that most professors still stand by the Netter atlas, and reference page numbers during lectures. To remedy this, Thieme has composed a table which compares Netter plate numbers to Thieme’s, allowing students to find similar plates.
Overall, this is a highly recommended book that many students believe far surpasses Netter in providing comprehensive and integrative anatomy knowledge to beginning anatomy students and pro’s alike.
CLOSED! Congratulations to the winning First Year at Indiana University School of Medicine!
We’re continuing the book giveaways, transitioning from general advice for incoming medical students to focused resources for the premier med school course: Anatomy. This site has previously reviewed a head to head analysis of some of the more popular anatomy atlases out there, and they generally come down to personal taste. As a complement, we’re going to provide some of the other supporting resources needed to ace anatomy.
First and foremost, every student needs a good text, and Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy can provide just that. We will be giving a formal review of the title on this site in the upcoming weeks, but for now rest assured that it is a well established and helpful resource.
Secondly, students should take advantage of study recall, and for that goal we are also giving away a free set of Rohen’s Flashcards. As a reminder: these are graphic images and should not be used in crowded areas in view of the public.
As extra icing on the cake, Lippincott is throwing in a free 6 month subscription to Acland’s Video Atlas of Human Anatomy Online as well, which is a video series of gross anatomy structures to help students better visualize human anatomy with visual manipulation and pertinent narratives.
Brand new copies of all three of these titles will be given to one lucky winner randomly selected from the comments of this post. To enter, simply leave any comment, and a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you should win. As usual, we NEVER use e-mail addresses for anything outside of these contests, as we are medical students too and appreciate privacy. Applicants must be US medical students to win. See our full contest rules for further details. Contest ends August 20, 2012 at 11:59pm. Good luck!
To kick off the USMLE Step 1 advice, we present the big picture overview of studying. Some of the below are well known strategies, but we hope to present some clever caveats that have been compiled by a number of med students along the way. Over the next few weeks, in depth articles will detail more of the little tricks that offer that competitive test taking edge. For now, let’s stick to the basics.
Early in the study process, you will be bombarded with different strategies and study practices. The problem will always come back to figuring out what works best for your specific learning style and knowledge base. Before you even decide where to start, you should have a basic idea of big-picture learning goals. After all, it would be silly to dedicate the same amount of time to a topic you despise as one you already know really well. Don’t guess. That’s an easy and common mistake. Get evidence.
The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the same guys who bring you the Step 1 exam, have created a number of helpful exams for this goal called the Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA). They use Step 1 style questions and provide performance profiles (above) similar to that found on your actual Step 1 assessment. It lays out a visual representation of strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully your med school provides them to you for free (if they don’t, petition for it).
It is recommended that you take an untimed enhanced CBSSA exam early on or even before you start studying. Assessing your Step 1 knowledge before studying, and seeing the score and performance profile early on will definitely sting, but the purpose is to push you in the right direction. It can serve as a strong motivator, and has been shown to increase board scores at certain med schools by 1/4 of a standard deviation. If desired, take another one about 10 days before the actual exam for comparison and reevaluation of focus. Using a question bank to accomplish this goal is an alternate option, but they are focused on teaching topics, and nothing is as authentic and insightful as an exam coming directly from the NBME.
Once you figure out strengths and weaknesses, creating a study schedule is the next essential step. We’ll cover the various types of plans more extensively in future posts, as there are many out there. The big picture point is that it should keep you focused but remain flexible. This can be a large stress-inducing topic for med students, as gunner plans will require no sleep and IV hydration. Construct something right for you that also maintains sanity.
It has been reviewed and highly recommended on this site, and even given away in a contest. This should be at the core of every med student’s study plan, and can be purchased confidently, regardless of your individual study strengths. However, this absolutely cannot be the sole source of information for Step 1 studies. Every commercial question bank and review course will cite some arbitrary number that suggests First Aid doesn’t hold 100% of the needed knowledge. They’re right.
The proper way to use First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is as a guide. The sections corresponding to the subject of your focus should be lightly overviewed first. This should then be followed by in-depth learning from a dedicated resource. Some students like returning to review First Aid after that, and/or in the days just before the exam. Either way, it should be used as your starting marker to point you in the right direction, not your end point. Furthermore, it should be annotated thoroughly, which will be discussed with tips in an upcoming post.
Now that we convinced you that First Aid won’t make you a Step 1 superstar by itself, let’s look at what else to consider. You will find that there are about three million medical books out there. After narrowing down the list to those designed specifically for med students studying for the USMLE Step 1, you will find yourself left with about 43,943 books. Pro-tip: you can’t read them all.
Feuds have started over which books present the highest of yields. You could sink a lot of time into researching every title, and fall prey to the gunners and trolls of the SDN forums, never wanting to hear the term “high yield” ever again. Here at MedStudentBooks, we like to keep things simple. Below is a list of recommended titles to support various Step 1 topics. As always, we highly recommend using the titles you already know and love to jog your memory. But if you don’t have a favorite, the following is a list of highly recommended titles from the MedStudentBooks team, surveyed med students, and med school administrators that you should consider first:
|MedStudentBooks Recommended Step 1 Resources|
|Lippincott’s Biochemistry||(full review here)|
|Q&A Review of Biochemistry|
|Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple||(full review here)|
|Q&A Review of Microbiology and Immunology|
|BRS Physiology||(full review here)|
|BRS Behavioral Science|
|BRS Pathology or Goljan’s Rapid Review Pathology||(full review here)|
|Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology (question book)||(full review here)|
|MedMaps for Pathophysiology||for true visual learners|
|Lilly’s Pathophysiology of Heart Disease||(full review here)|
|High-Yield Gross Anatomy with your favorite atlas for reminders|
|High-Yield Neuroanatomy||with this gem|
Clearly you should not seek out every book on this list. In fact, purchasing too many books can stress you out if you have a large pile of materials you feel you must get through, without the time to actually do it. These are just top recommendations for the subjects with which med students tend to need extra help. The key is to figure out what topics need to be strengthened as mentioned above, and focus on them from the above list appropriately. We’ll go over general question and case books in another post.
Do not be that med student who waits until the day before they are scheduled to start reviewing a topic to buy the associated book. You should not dedicate any brain power on bookstore trips or figuring out why the postal service didn’t deliver your Amazon order in the middle of your studying. Added stress is not welcomed. Figure out what books you need from your self-assessment, and purchase them early.
Your med school may host an obligatory Kaplan lunch talk, or notify you of a USMLERx “scholarship” (?). Maybe you’ve heard some rumors about a new and upcoming question bank weapon for gunners. Like books, there are several options out there, but this choice is even simpler than books: use USMLE World.
Much like First Aid, this is not a question of learning style. If you’re a visual learner, use UWorld. If you’re an auditory learner, use UWorld. If you work for Kaplan… use UWorld. We’ve previously mentioned that we’re not a fan of their company policies or prices, but the high quality of their question bank is undeniable, which is why they are the gold standard. Unless your exam is scheduled within the next 8 weeks, get a 3 month subscription. We’ll discuss question bank strategies and alternatives in upcoming posts, but for now rest assured that you don’t need to worry about other companies unless you’ve blown through UWorld and come out hungry for more. Again, the price is unfortunately high, but it is an absolute necessity.
So far we’ve covered basic science subjects that are largely conceptual. Unfortunately, Step 1 (and the rest of your career) will require straight up no-thinking-through-it memorization. By this point in med school, you’ve probably created lists that you’ve stared at for so long that you not only remember the factoid, but the irregularities of the paper as well. This will most likely come up for Step 1 in pharmacology and microbiology. It is an unfortunate necessity, however it can be improved slightly. Just remember that large amounts of rote memorization are best retained with spaced repetition. In other words, you should identify the long lists somewhat early, and continue to review them in short bursts throughout your study schedule instead of dedicating large chunks of time without returning to the information.
A lot of us really neglect this one, and it can have devastating effects on productivity and exam scores. We’ll be discussing burnout in greater detail soon, but you should start thinking of things that keep you sane now. Step 1 sucks, but you are awesome.
At this point in the year, most medical students have already started Gross Anatomy and have gotten a feel for many of the resources available to them. A review was previously written that compared some of the more popular anatomy atlases, and only a brief mention has been made on this site so far regarding anatomy flash cards. For many students, the idea of atlas flash cards seems redundant. You should be familiar enough with your study and learning habits to get a feel of this already. However, there are some benefits to this resource which are best shared by people who have already gone through the full experience of medical school.
Regardless of which atlas you have selected, you are most likely going to be bringing it around with you, or using the local library copy. However, this has its limitations. Pulling out a copy of Rohen on a crowded bus can not only be disturbing to those around you, but produce a serious issue of professionalism. Similarly, waiting for a bus or standing around somewhere makes balancing a thick anatomy atlas somewhat annoying. The first strength of Netter’s Anatomy Flashcards (now in their third edition) is their size. Reviewing them is not only easy to manage, but they are also easy to hide.
Chances are, your anatomy class will focus on one particular organ system or anatomic area at a time. The full Netter’s Anatomy Atlas text is 620 pages, which is overkill for your specific study needs in any given week. While it is a great resource, carrying it around along with a syllabus is going to get tiring pretty fast. A better tactic is simply grabbing the color-coded stack of flash cards dedicated to your current area of interest. The latest version already has hole punches, which keeps organization manageable. At some point in med school, most medical students realize the usefulness of portability. Stack a few cards on top of your snack bars, and you’re set for the day.
Purchasing Netter’s anatomy flash cards new grants access to the studentconsult.com online version of this resource from any computer. Even if you forgot your cards at home, you can still review them. This basically creates a second copy of the cards, which you can access indefinitely, even if you want to share the hard copy with a friend. Some will argue that this is especially useful when accessed remotely on a smart phone, but most med students would disagree. The detail of the structures combined with the small font makes for a suboptimal viewing and thus learning experience. This is precisely the reason the iPhone and Android app of any atlas is usually contraindicated.
While most first year resources are rarely used by med students on the wards, anatomy is something that will need to be reviewed for a number of clerkships, including surgery, ob/gyn, neurology, as well as elective rotations in any surgical subspecialty. Again, a full atlas is always best, but not something easily stored in scrubs pockets and referenced between cases in an operating room.
A set of anatomy flash cards can usually be purchased new for $25. Because they tend to be in moderate demand every year, they have a resale value that will allow you to recover the majority of its initial cost. Furthermore, selling your set used does not remove access to studentconsult.com, which means you can continue referencing the electronic version. Even when new versions come out, older sets can usually still be sold. With that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable to purchase the previous version of these flashcards. Human anatomy hasn’t changed too much since 2006.
As a runner up reason not to overlook Netter’s Anatomy Flashcards: They go particularly well with people in the Rohen camp of anatomy atlases, as it offers a little bit of Netter drawings to complement and enhance the Rohen experience, producing the best of both worlds.
While this site had previously reported on the vast shortcomings of Blueprints Pediatrics, the writers of Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology, now in its fifth edition, have thankfully delivered one of the best ob/gyn review resources for medical students who are not going into obstetrics and gynecology. The book itself follows the same format and design as the others in the series, but don’t judge the book by its cover.
The major strength of Blueprints Ob/Gyn is that it is specifically streamlined for NBME exams, which means it strips down all the unnecessary detail and presents the core topics that will aid you in rocking the shelf, as well as the ob/gyn questions on Step 2. One of the tough areas of ob/gyn is learning all new normal anatomy and physiology while currently learning the pathophysiology. The book does a good job of breaking this up into an easy to read flow, with chapters that have a manageable length. This includes both big-picture overviews (e.g. things that go wrong in third trimester) as well as drill down topics (e.g. preeclampsia). Furthermore, the book also has its own question sets which further solidify the topics as you go. This book also doubles as a great guide on Family Medicine as well.
Specific chapters include Pregnancy and Prenatal Care, Early Pregnancy Complications, Prenatal Screening/Diagnosis/Treatment, Normal Labor and Delivery, Antepartum Hemorrhage, Complications of Labor and Delivery, Fetal Complications, Hypertension in Pregnancy, Diabetes in Pregnancy, Infectious Diseases, Other Medical Complications in Pregnancy, Postpartum Care, Benign Disorders of the Genital Tract, Endometriosis and Adenomyosis, Pelvic Relaxation, Urinary Incontinence, Puberty and Menopause, Amenorrhea, Hirsutism and Virilism, Contraception and Sterilization, Elective Pregnancy Termination, Infertility and Assisted Reproduction, various Cancers, and Breast Disease.
Keep in mind that this latest fifth edition has very few changes compared to the previous two versions. If you can pick up the older copies for cheap or free, they will provide the same knowledge.
The age old debate once again emerges. This post will attempt to sort out the confusion to help you make the best decision on your first year med school anatomy atlas purchase. While the main issue is almost always Netter or Rohen, there are actually a few other contenders that will be briefly discussed as well.
First, it is important to specify that there are both better books, and different books. What that means is that Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy (reviewed in full here) is going to be a better learning tool than most of its low budget imitators. However there are also apples-and-oranges comparisons, which is where Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy (reviewed in full here) comes into play.
So which to choose? Rohen or Netter? The difference lies in how you like to study. Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy is going to excel at providing actual cadaver pictures, so what you study in the book is exactly what you will be tested on in your anatomy practical exams. Rohens’ also has the benefit of only numbering structures that require a legend, so it is perfect for quizzing – simply cover the answer sheet. However, anatomy is hard for a number of reasons, one such difficulty being that multiple flesh colored structures easily blend together. As a solution, Frank Netter produced his famous Atlas of Human Anatomy, which covers all the same anatomy as Rohen, but with drawings. His illustrations have the benefit of being able to clearly show the borders of structures with differences in coloring, making the anatomy easier to understand (whereas Rohen paints a small minority of structures to a less effective degree). Tiny anatomy like nerves or vasculature pop off the page with contrast from their backgrounds with Netter. The down side is that Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy isn’t completely representative of anatomy practicals, as exams are not so conveniently color coded.
This ultimately comes down to a decision of clarity or authenticity. In the end, the debate will always be split based on this and how each individual person studies. It is recommended that you use both, depending on the situation, to get the best of both worlds. Specifically, Netter’s is a great first-pass reference book to help identify structures when initially exposed to the material, whereas Rohen’s is going to solidify existing understanding based on the actual visuals. In other words, a good strategy is to use Netter’s first, then go to Rohen’s. As owning both books can get costly, try to own the one that appeals most to you, and borrow the other from an opposite-minded friend or the library.
Rohen’s and Netter’s Anatomy Atlases are not the only Anatomy books out there, though they are generally better than most. Some other options deserve honorable mention.
The Sobatta Atlas of Human Anatomy (volume 1 and volume 2) is a hidden gem that breaks up the entire body into tremendous detail across two volumes. Many believe the quality of the illustrations themselves actually surpass Netter’s. It is important to note that this book distinguishes itself from the others by identifying all of the anatomical structures by their latin names. For a surprising majority of structures, this naming system is perfectly fine, as a good amount of anatomy is already latin. If you can use this book effectively, you will come out with a deeper understanding of the anatomy, its function, and its naming system. For example, ab muscles are called Rectus Abdominis because “rectus” comes from the latin for “straight.” Keep in mind that these will increase understanding, but at the time-cost of mastering part of a different language. Own both volumes if you can afford them, but otherwise it is worth going out of your way to find them in your school’s medical library.
Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy is another illustrated book. Unlike Netter, Rohen, and Sobatta, there’s just nothing really special to speak of. It highlights the anatomy and will help your studies, but generally doesn’t bring anything more to the table compared to the above books. Grant’s Dissector, (not to be confused with the Atlas) works particularly well for anatomy lab, but should not be purchased if your med school requires a different book. If they do require Grant’s Dissector, or you purchase it because they don’t require any book at all, you’re in good hands.
Lastly, honorable mention must be given to the epic original (but currently outdated) Gray’s Anatomy, originally named Gray’s Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical. No, it was not named after the TV show. Since the original, a number of revisions and companion books have been produced by new editors under the same name, including Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy, Gray’s Anatomy Review, Gray’s Anatomy for Students, and Gray’s Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice (seen right). See that sticker on the front cover that says “150 years?” That’s there because the original author, Henry Gray, was born in 1827. While anatomy hasn’t changed much since then, our understanding and technology has improved slightly past the mostly black-and-white images from the original Gray’s Anatomy, which can be found for free at Bartleby’s Online Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body. As you go through med school and use Dr. Wikipedia, you’ll see many of the original images from Gray’s Anatomy used as a reference (example below). The above book and many of its similarly name renditions contain up to date text and illustrations, but they are generally anatomy textbooks and not dedicated atlases like the abovementioned publications, to be reviewed at a later time. Gray’s Anatomy is mentioned here for historic reference as the influential publication that really pioneered the way of the illustrated Anatomy Atlas.
Haines Neuroanatomy: An Atlas of Structures, Sections, and Systems is another one of those amazing must-have books that can be reliably purchased going into first year medical school. Unlike the differing opinions regarding, general anatomy atlases, this really is the best neuroanatomy textbook for medical school. It is important to differentiate this from a reading-intensive book from which one would use to sit down and learn new concepts. This is a picture atlas with complementary text specifically relevant to the images, not a text-heavy resource. Its purpose is not to teach new function, but to provide a structural neurology road map along the fibers of the brain and spinal cord, which it accomplishes very well. Similarly, it is rather difficult to discern the neurology (or general anatomy) structures and pathways just by reading text. The use of Haines Neuroanatomy Atlas is best used in conjunction with your first year med school Neurology class syllabus and lectures, to specifically prepare you for neurology lab and the exam. The gold standard of human anatomy, Netter’s Anatomy Atlas (reviewed here), is used in the exact same way.
The atlas features a very clear layout of the spinal cord and brain stem, in an intuitive order. The key value of the book is all about the two-page spreads that feature “raw” cross sectional neurology images on one page, and labeled cartoon overlays on the opposite page. This gives you the perspective of the types of images you will see on exams, while still outlining pertinent borders and areas. If you have a question about where that darker blob ends or what it does, just look at the page above for the border and answer.
A bit of advice when using Haines Neuroanatomy Atlas: a common mistake many med students make it to bring this book into neurology or neuroanatomy lab with them. While doing so will allow you to utilize the atlas, it is a most assured method of ruining the book as well. It is nearly impossible to avoid getting preservatives/fixatives and streaked brain bits onto the pages as you and lab partners reach over it and attempt to turn the pages. You should try to avoid doing so and then taking the book home or touching it with bare hands later.
As a reference, this is the latest edition of the popular cover shown right, and should not be confused as being a different book. The cover on the right also gives you a taste of the types of images in the book itself.
Overall, Haines’ Neuroanatomy Atlas is definitely not one to miss, and should be used for its intended purpose: as a neuroanatomy picture book that provides the visual complement to your preclinical med school Neurology lectures and syllabus. If you’re going for Honors in preclinical Neurology or your Neurology clerkship, buy this book.
Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy: A Photographic Study of the Human Body, more lovingly referred to simply as “Rohen’s” has a deceptive cover. The anatomy picture on the front looks cartoonish, and the “color atlas” in the name sounds like it’s a coloring book. Do not overlook this med school anatomy book, as it is a big push to increasing your chance of getting Honors on your first med school class.
It is another anatomy atlas, yes, but instead of using drawings like Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, it excels by using actual cadaver photographs to directly show the anatomy. What this means is that the images in Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy closely approximate what will be seen on every one of your anatomy practical exams in full color, but without the smell of having to actually go into anatomy lab. Later in third year, in comes in handy on surgery to identify key anatomic landmarks and surgical planes of dissection.
One of the other benefits of this atlas is that it labels structures with numbers which are referenced on another part of the page. This legend can be covered, turning the Anatomy Atlas into an instant study guide for quizzing oneself on anatomic structures. It also comes with access to the online text, which makes it portable and viewable on many smart phones.
Some med students make the mistake of trying to bring this book into anatomy lab. As with any other resource, the lab is not the place for Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy unless you want to ruin your book. Everyone at medstudentbooks has the utmost respect for cadaver donors, but this warning must be expressed: liquefied adipose and fixatives get over everything brought into the lab. You do not want to bring that home on your books and have it touching anything else. Use older free copies in the lab, even though they are mildly outdated, or hope your anatomy laboratory partners haven’t found this site or don’t care if their books are ruined.
The book hits on all of the expected anatomy, being everything. The order of its units is as follows: General Anatomy Principles, Skull and Muscles of the Head, Cranial Nerves, Brain and Sensory Organs, Oral and Nasal Cavities, Neck and its Organs, Trunk, Thoracic Organs, Abdominal Organs, Retroperitoneal Organs, Upper Limb, and Lower Limb Anatomy.
As with any real cadaver pictures, care must be taken where the book is opened. While this is a superior resource for studying anatomy, it should not be opened in public areas such as buses or parks out of respect for those around you. As young medical professionals, it is easy to overlook the sensitivity of this issue. However, we are charged with maintaining professional behavior, which includes restricting the sights found in this book to other medical professionals.
If you’re the type of person who needs to visualize real images to crystallize the learning, Rohen’s Atlas of Anatomy is the book for you.