Tag Archives: core clerkship

Careful Consideration: Pocket Neurology

Pocket Neurology LippincottPocket 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.

 

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Win a Free Book: Pocket Medicine (AKA The Green Book) Giveaway!

This contest is currently closed – the winner has been contacted. Thank you to everyone who applied. Stay tuned for the next free giveaway, coming this Halloween!

Pocket Medicine: The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Internal Medicine

Win this book free!

Med Student Books is proud to announce our first of many book giveaways: Mark Sabatine’s Pocket Medicine. You have probably already heard it referred to as “The Green Book” (the newest edition after “The Red Book“), and seen it sticking out of white coat pockets. Pocket Medicine has been previously reviewed on this site as a “Must Have” book for third year medical students on the wards.

Thanks to our friends at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, we are happy to give away a brand new copy of this highly recommended resource. As this site is dedicated to using the experiences of medical students to help one another, Pocket Medicine will be awarded to the US medical student who offers the best advice to incoming first year medical students in a comment to this post.  It can focus on anything, including but not limited to study tips, ways to adjust to med school life, your favorite anatomy resources, or anything else that you wish you had known coming into medical school.  It just needs to be tailored to first years.

As this book is valued at over $50 and we wish to restrict it to the medical community, we ask that you use your medical school e-mail address as verification of your status.  Alternately, you can use another e-mail for now, but winners must verify their med school e-mail when contacted.  E-mail addresses are not displayed publicly, and will not be used for any purpose outside of this contest.  The winning entry will be selected on Friday, October 7th at 11:59pm, and the winner will be notified by the e-mail they provided shortly thereafter.

See our complete contest rules for further details.

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250 Biggest Mistakes 3rd Year Medical Students Make

Book Review: 250 Biggest Mistakes 3rd Year Medical Students Make And How to Avoid ThemMany 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.

 

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Surgical Recall: Ultimate Pimping Handbook

Blackbroune Surgical Recall for Third Year Med StudentsSurgical 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.

Surgical Recall Illustrations: JP drain and Scalpels

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.

 

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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: 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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Must Buy: First Aid for the Wards

Tao Le First Aid for the Wards, fourth edition on Med Student Books

Tao Le First Aid for the Wards, fourth edition

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.

Up until now in your education, most people 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’s 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’s still an exam at the end. However, you are evaluated from the very first day you step onto the floor. Furthermore, the way in which you are evaluated on the exam (factoid-based) is usually different from how you are evaluated by your team (practical working knowledge). As obvious as that may sound, it took me a while to truly understand that and react accordingly. My method, which I highly recommend, is to get a cheap used (or free) version of First Aid for the Wards:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071597964/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=itemcontent-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217153&creative=399349&creativeASIN=0071597964 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suggest reading through the corresponding section in Wards the weekend before starting a clerkship, not to really commit everything to long term memory, but just to skim the information and orient yourself to the vocabulary and mindset of the specialty. Shelf exams will never ask you about the ALLHAT trial, but I guarantee you that you will have a patient on day 1 of Internal Medicine that it will apply to, and simply dropping that trial name appropriately because you happen to have read it the night before will score you major points. As such, you do NOT need the latest version of the book (or any other quick overview), because the attendings don’t pimp heavily to the latest info. Again: FA Wards for short term memory. Study for-serious with another source as the clerkship nears its end.

 

 

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