Tag Archives: books to avoid
Many will argue that the first mistake third year med students make is buying this book, while others will claim that it is an essential and invaluable survival guide. 250 Biggest Mistakes 3rd Year Medical Students Make and How to Avoid Them by Dessai and Katta is the semi-popular successor of the 101 Mistakes book. As the title suggests, it reviews all of the big issues bound to cause trouble on the wards. But how helpful is it really? The answer depends upon the direction and perspective from which the book is examined.
If an attending were to be pulled aside and asked to write a list of all the things that bring down 3rd year med student evaluations, it may very well produce this book. Therefore, many reason that the opposite must be true: buying this book prevents students from making these 250 mistakes, thereby instantly increasing their grades. That’s essentially the fear hidden in the title of this book: buy it or you won’t get good evals.
Looking at the same scenario from the medical student’s point of view produces different results. If a fourth year medical student were asked to write a list of all the things they wish they knew for themselves coming into med school (one of the very goals of MedStudentBooks.com), only a small portion of this book would be reproduced. The reason for this distinction is because the large majority of “mistakes” in this book are common sense items that the large majority of medical students either don’t make, or adapt to with effortless efficiency.
So why the discrepancy in appreciation of this book from readers? For medical students who have worked in “the real world” or have been held to rigid professional standards previously, pieces of advice such as “show up on time” or “dress professionally” or “get your work done on time” come as an expectation. Others however need gentle reminders that there is a clear distinction in the environment between preclinical and clinical med school years. The majority of medical students come directly from college, and may face an actual professional setting for the first time in their lives at third year. This latter group comprises the students who would most benefit from the nuanced recommendations of 250 Mistakes.
The big picture consists of the following. First, med students should be professional. Second, they should ascertain the characteristics on which they are evaluated by directly asking residents or attendings at the start of each rotation, and reevaluating methods based on feedback along the course of the rotation. It can be an intimidating process for someone unfamiliar with the culture of medicine, but such open communication is a common occurrence. Most attendings at teaching hospitals are happy to help, and do not mind offering feedback. It should be noted however that this falls under a common rule of medicine: don’t ask the question if you don’t want to know the answer. Feedback is only helpful if it is used, and being defensive about feedback is looked down upon.
If you can accomplish these goals of professionalism and open communication that seeks out feedback for improvement, there’s not much else this book has to offer. If however you are new to the working world or want a few gentle pushes in the right direction, this can certainly help. Despite it’s 200+ pages, it’s a rather fast read with big bullet points. The book itself is relatively cheap (compare prices below), but it can usually be found at your local medical library, or borrowed from friends or student lounges.
Another common mistake new medical students make is securing a medical dictionary. Usually these are used as incentives for signing up with one of the medical societies that want your money, but as a whole, they are not needed. That’s not to say they are inaccurate or unhelpful, so much as outdated. If you need to look up the definition of a specific medical term, chances are you will be effortlessly turning to Dr. Google or Wikipedia, instead of digging out a book from your shelf and using your mastery over alphabetical order and small print font.
With that being said, there is a small sub-population of people who will argue over which medical dictionary is the best out there. The fact is, they all get the job done to about the same degree and ease. If you have to pick one because your medical book starter set wouldn’t be complete without it, I would say go with Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. It’s the one that has been endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), and is one of their incentives for joining (as referenced above). This not only means that you have the opportunity of obtaining it at no additional cost if you were to sign up with them anyway, but it also usually means that they are plentiful and freely given away by other med students who didn’t want it.
Again, it’s a common mistake to buy a medical dictionary. They just aren’t needed. But if you insist on getting one anyway, grab a copy of Stedman’s.
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.