Tag Archives: med school study website
We recently received a question through the contact form about the previous neurology book review, Haines Neuroanatomy Atlas. It was recommended that Haines not be brought into the lab, and the question asked what resource should be used instead. This post is the answer.
Coming into med school, you’ll be told of all the required books and be handed a syllabus. However there are a few hidden resources hoarded and protected by the gunners of the class that generally aren’t as readily known. Cindy Montana’s Interactive Neuroscience Review (very large powerpoint file!) is one such free gem.
After downloading the epic powerpoint presentation from the above link, be sure to view it in slide-show mode. This interactive and animated file is wired together much like the neurology system it teaches, and is horribly confusing and dysfunctional if the slides are just viewed outright.
The presentation really speaks for itself, but the animations are a fantastic and color-coded way to review the neuroanatomy pathways and basic concepts. This should not replace Haines Neuroanatomy Atlas, which is still highly recommended, but rather used as a complement and alternative. This is perfect for places and times when taking out Haines just doesn’t work. Most neuro labs have computers, which means you won’t have to dirty your own books. Similarly, this is a great review for all the crammers and gunners who like to study on the go, as it can be pulled up on many smart phones.
There are many more hidden gems to come. To all you gunners out there: you’re welcome.
Histology has generally fallen out of favor and focus for many medical school curricula these days. Some med schools still have dedicated histology courses and mandatory histo labs with ridiculously priced slide sets, but most have transitioned to incorporating histology within other broader classes, and offer newer digital versions of labs. Due to this transition, as well as the driving field of pathology, countless databases and software packages have been developed to allow for histopathological visualization of electronic slides.
Whether your school’s applications allows for “real time” zooming and scrolling, or just splatters the screen with images, most software options are not particularly great at teaching the topic. All too commonly, we as med students have instructions that go along with slides and read something like “as it is clearly seen, the eosinophilic uptake shows…” Most of the time however, we have no idea what we are “clearly” looking at. Short of capturing a live histologist and forcing them to use the neon microscope arrows to directly point out key structures to make sense of it all, the next best thing is using a database that directly points to, circles, colors in, and directly labels what you need to know.
There are few free online databases out there, but the Histology Learning System from Boston University is among the best. Sure the background is a dull gray and the site navigation is a bit static, but the content and (more importantly) label system are a sure fire way to both learn and teach the material. This is especially useful when you find yourself needing to put together that annoying last minute power point presentation for some small group show-and-tell the next day.
The database breaks down all of histology by system, and also has a sitemap with every image listed. Upon loading an image, users have the option of clicking on the LABEL button to figure out what they’re actually viewing, or click on a black rectangle on the image to increase magnification (enhance!) that structure. Some structures are rather straight forward and have no enhanced images, while others can go several layers deep. Chances are, the histology professor or local guru at your medical school can recognize the BU histology database images on sight, as they are relatively well known in the community and characteristic.
Whether you need a complementary learning tool to be used with your class syllabus, a stand alone reference as you go through medical school, or a database of “normals” to contrast with pathology studying, the BU Histology website is highly recommended.
To prove your gunnery and attain bonus internet points, name the structures contained within this post by commenting here.
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.