Tag Archives: clerkship books
Pocket Neurology (also known as “The Yellow Book”) can be readily found in the white coats of many Neurology residents. Unlike its Medicine counterpart (The Green Book), Pocket Neurology does not seem to hold the same popularity among medical students. There are a few reasons for this. First, it hasn’t been around as long, and thus it hasn’t had time to built up the full extent of its reputation. Few attendings will readily reference it during rounds, and residents simply won’t expect students to own or have access to a copy. Second, Neurology is usually a clerkship of shorter duration compared to Internal Medicine in most medical schools, and therefore comprehensive pocket guides are less bang for the same buck.
What Pocket Neurology covers, it covers very well. However the target audience for this title is not the same as for Pocket Medicine as a result of the focus in our medical education. We are taught the core principles of Internal Medicine from an early point on entering medical school, including history taking, physical examination, general findings, and many organ system courses focused on Internal Medicine subspecialties. It is because of this focus that new third year medical students can open a copy of Pocket Medicine and understand the more advanced topics without the need for referencing the basics.
This is not the case on a Neurology rotation, where most students are just starting to learn the specialty’s language, techniques, and the significance of common findings. For example, students may be frustrated if trying to use the book to assess the common presentations of migraine prodrome, despite a concise and comprehensive overview of headache differential diagnosis and workup. Getting past the basics quickly to fully utilize this book is highly recommended, as it will certainly be a strong resource to those who can wield it well.
As with all of the titles in the Pocket Notebook series, downsides include lack of space for annotation, and small print font, but these come with the territory of creating pocket reference guides. Another consideration for this title specifically is an index section that is somewhat lacking. Topics not contained within tidy concepts involve a good amount of searching in the appropriate chapter. As a result, many residents will place labeled flags or earmarks on pages to quickly access commonly referenced topics.
Specific sections include neurologic emergencies, lesion localizing in clinical neurology, neuroimaging, vascular neurology, neurocritical care, acute intracranial hypertension, interventional neurology, seizures and other spells, electroencephalography (EEG), delirium, dementia, movement disorders, behavioral neurology, poisons and vitamin deficiencies, meningitis / encephalitis / brain abscesses, infectious diseases, headache, central nervous system vasculitis, pain, dizziness and deafness, demyeliminating diseases of the central nervous system, spine and spinal cord diseases, motor neuron diseases, peripheral neuropathy, radiculopathy and plexopathy, neuromuscular junction disorders, myopathy, electromyography (EMG), neuro-rheumatology, neuro-oncology, sleep medicine, pregnancy neurology, neuro-ophthalmology, consult issues, and selected pediatric disorders.
Overall, this is a title worth purchasing for all Neurology residents and medical students interested in the field. Medical students who wish to excel in their Neurology clerkship or enter a field that uses neurology such as Internal Medicine, Trauma, or Ophthalmology should consider purchasing Pocket Neurology with the above considerations, based on their personal preferences. This is probably not heavily needed for students who have no interest in neurology.
Surgical Recall is one of those third year med student books that can be your secret phone-a-friend ace up your sleeve, and concurrently your downfall. There are a number of books you will encounter throughout medical school where the outcome of that class or clerkship is dependent on how the book is used. Just as you wouldn’t use Netter’s or Rohen’s to replace an anatomy text, Surgical Recall must be used properly.
As the title implies, Surgical Recall is your guide to all things pimping on surgery. Unless surgery is your first rotation, you should already be aware that the pimping starts on the very first day. Accordingly, you should ideally grab a copy of this during the weekend before your surgery clerkship starts and dig in quite a bit by time you hit the first day. This is the book that’s going to help you avoid looking like a total newbie, because common surgical etiquette and culture is not taught in preclinical classes. This is the book that’s going to tell you all the usual abbreviations, the names of all the different scissors you enounter, why you should NEVER touch the mayo tray (and what that is), and all of the common pimp questions you will commonly encounter.
Like other books in the Recall series, Surgical Recall uses a split page question and answer format that quizzes the reader on all the common things seen in surgery. The book does a good job in its use of pictures, especially on sections dedicated to surgical instruments and consumables. This is important as most third year med students don’t know what a JP drain is, what JP stands for, what they look like, and how they are different from other drains. You could responsively google “JP drain” right now, but you won’t know the names of all the other commonly used tools, which is why this book is helpful.
The latest edition (as seen above) has taken on a somewhat retro look. Perhaps market research has shown med students go for books that are already on fire to quell the need to later set them ablaze in frustration, or perhaps this just allows for the subsequent edition to look modernized in comparison. Nonetheless, we can’t judge a book by its cover, else the BRS series of books would have gone extinct long ago. The first section of Surgical Recall is going to touch on the big picture and background of surgery, including abbreviations, surgical signs, syndromes, cutting, suturing, tying, instruments, preoperative requirements, wound care, hemostasis, nutrition, shock, complications, and surgical anatomy pearls. Section II goes over the main general surgery areas, including GI hormones, GI bleeds, hernias, laparoscopy, trauma, burns, bariatric surgery, appendicitis, ostomies, fistulas, IBD, portal hypertension, other hepatobiliary diseases, the breast, endocrine, melanoma, vascular, and intensive care unit knowledge. The third and final section hits the surgical subspecialties, including pediatrics, plastics, hand, otolaryngology, thoracic, cardiovascular, transplant, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and urology. This book is around 800 pages long, and while the question and answer format allows for a faster read, you should generally focus on the general surgery knowledge and the topics that specifically correspond to your surgical service.
Included with this latest version is the promise of free “Mobile Access.” As of now, the jury is still out as to whether this is legitimate, as a number of students have had a hard time actually accessing it through their phones without paying the additional ~$45 app price through Android or Apple. It may be fixed in the future, but don’t purchase this book thinking it will instantly be on your phone.
Surgical Recall can be the downfall for the occasional medical student who believes this is the only book needed during surgery. Indeed it will seem like a cheat sheet, whereby memorizing this book will produce superstar results in the operating room and floors (and it will). However, the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam doesn’t care about the things that make awesome operating room medical students that get all the obscure attending questions. There is no Surgery Shelf question on one-handed ties, no Surgery Shelf question on drain choices, and no Surgery Shelf question on how your attending likes their coffee. Make the distinction: there is OR / floor knowledge, and there is NBME Surgery Shelf exam knowledge, with a minority of overlap. You need both to go for the gold on your surgery clerkship, and Surgical recall is the tool to help with the former.
ENT Secrets, now in its third edition, is the next step up in otolaryngology texbooks for medical students. Previously, this site discussed Primary Care Otolaryngology (reviewed here) as a light read to get through a mandatory ENT rotation or look knowledgeable about otolaryngology in a primary care setting. However, this is not an appropriate strategy for a med student on a sub-internship. To hit the next level of looking awesome, we recommend ENT Secrets.
The benefit of this text book is that it is comprehensive enough for fourth year medical students to learn the fundamentals of every otolaryngology topic, without becoming a monster hardcover. Residents are more likely to reference Pasha or Lee (>1000 pages!), but these are a bit too large and extensive for most medical students on a one month rotation. They are better suited for Ear-Nose-Throat boards, whereas ENT Secrets is better used for things like getting pimped, and not looking like a newbie.
As with many other books in the “Secrets” series, the book is broken down into subspecialties and reads in question and answer format, with numbered titles followed by detailed definitions of terms and scenarios. You’ll get all the usual imaging and diagrams you would expect. This also comes with the online Student Consult. Some of the features, such as online note taking, seem outright useless (please, someone comment if they disagree). However the ability to access the text electronically means you can embrace the med student geek inside you and read while waiting for the bus. It also means you can gank key figures and use them in powerpoint presentations.
If you’re about to hit your ENT sub-internship, this is the recommended book for you. Otherwise, for mandatory clerkships, stick to the recommended reading, or Otolaryngology for Primary Care.
First Aid for the Wards is another Tao Le book that every medical student should own. It provides a comprehensive overview of each core clerkship, including what to bring, how to write progress notes, and common abbreviations.
Before third year of medical school, most med students study a little bit throughout a course, and pick up time dedicated to studying as the end of the course approaches. It makes sense, as that is usually where the evaluation is, being an exam. It is easy to be similarly fooled into thinking the strategy should be the same for clerkships, especially because there is still an exam at the end. However, medical students are evaluated from the very first day on the floor. Furthermore, the way in which they are evaluated on the exam (factoid-based) is usually different from how they are evaluated by their team (practical working knowledge).
To prepare for that new setup, the highly recommended strategy is to read through the corresponding section in First Aid for the Wards the weekend before starting a clerkship, not to commit everything to long term memory, but just to skim the information and become oriented to the vocabulary and mindset of the specialty. Shelf exams will never ask about the ALLHAT trial, but every student guaranteed to have a patient on the first day of Internal Medicine that it will apply to. Simply dropping that trial name appropriately because of readings the previous night is sure to impress. With that in mind, more in depth resources should be used for shelf exams.