Tag Archives: nbme shelf exam

Family Medicine Question Book Showdown: NMS Q&A vs PreTest

NMS vs PreTest Family Medicine

Family medicine can be a tricky clerkship in many medical schools due to the vastly different experiences based on location. Some are heavily procedure driven, while others are very hands-off. Some experiences are well balanced, while others exclusively focus on family medicine subspecialization such as dermatology, sports medicine, or ob/gyn clinics.  Regardless of whether you experience an urban or completely middle-of-nowhere rural practice, all students at a given med school take the same final exam, and often times that exam is an NBME shelf.

It is not uncommon for students to feel that clinical experiences on a family medicine rotation do not comprehensively prepare them for the exam, especially when the specialty has such a wide breadth and oftentimes unknown depth. For students who know they learn best with practice questions, the below two titles tend to come up for comparison.


PreTest Family Medicine

PreTest Family Medicine by Doug Knutson continues on in the same style as other titles in the series, providing high yield questions and helpful answers that are geared specifically towards medical students. As each book is written by a different author, there is some variability within the series, but Family Medicine is one of the stronger PreTest titles.

The book is about 5.5 inches wide, which allows it to easily slip into a white coat pocket. This really came in handy during canceled patient appointments that created a good amount of downtime. The 500 USMLE styled questions in the book specifically focus on preventive medicine, doctor-patient issues, acute conditions, and chronic conditions. Question explanations generally go into both right and wrong answers, which helps solidify learning.

 


NMS Q&A Family MedicineThe National Medical Series for Independent Study (NMS) produced their own Q&A for Family Medicine, written by David Rudy. The book is full sized, meaning there’s no way it can fit within a white coat pocket. However, it does come with a scratch-off on the inside cover, and every owner is a winner! The prize? Online searchable access to every question and answer in the book, making it easy to use from any computer (if your Family Medicine practice happens to have available computers).

It is important to note that the “nearly 500 exam-style questions” advertised on the cover is actually over 900 questions. This brings up one of the larger complaints of the book. Previous editions had a number of spelling errors and even outdated content. While the content appears accurate, some of the typo issues have remained.

Answers in the NMS question book similarly overview all of the right and wrong answers, allowing for a full learning experience. However, the feel of the questions doesn’t parallel USMLE format as much as PreTest. Content seems to be more advanced overall, with more detail. It can probably serve as an effective learning tool well into residency.

 


The winner: This round goes to PreTest Family Medicine.

Overall, PreTest provides questions that are more geared towards the NBME Family Medicine shelf exam, in both format and content. For a third year medical student who benefits from practice questions and wants a white coat resource, PreTest is the way to go. For those who anticipate blowing through all of the PreTest questions and coming up hungry for more, try out NMS Q&A Family Medicine for more in-depth content as a subsequent resource. Special consideration should be taken by those who plan to enter family medicine as their chosen specialty, in which case the breadth and depth of NMS Q&A may provide a larger challenge with greater long term benefits. Keep in mind that neither of these titles is recommended for USMLE Step 2 CK study, despite both of them advertising it.

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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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Best Ob/Gyn Review: Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology

Best Ob/Gyn Book: Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology

Best Og/Byn Review: Blueprints

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.

 

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Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

Books to Avoid: Blueprints Pediatrics

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.

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Pre-Test Pediatrics USMLE style QBank, Great for the Peds Clerkship

PreTest Pediatrics USMLE Style Qbank Questions

PreTest Pediatrics USMLE Style Qbank

PreTest Pediatrics is the resource to pick up for USMLE style Pediatrics Qbank questions. Pediatrics as a field unfortunately doesn’t have its share of amazing high yield resources for med students. We are usually left choosing between First Aid for the Pediatrics Clerkship (upcoming review), Nelson’s Essentials of Pediatrics (reviewed here), or just hitting up the internet. The problem is that the information tested on the NBME shelf exam focuses on content you will not see on your pediatrics rotation, whether it is outpatient or inpatient.

Nevertheless, on the NBME Pediatrics shelf exam, NBME ambulatory (outpatient) shelf exam, and USMLE Step 2 CK exam, you will need to know the differential diagnosis for things like “child presents with limp.”  Do you remember ever going over that in your preclinical classes?  Yeah, that’s because most med schools don’t hit such topics.  This is precisely where PreTest comes in to boost your scores.

Chapters cover General Pediatrics, the Newborn Infant, Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System (this one is vital for the shelf!), Gastrointestinal System, Urinary Tract, Neuromuscular System, Infectious Disease and Immunology, Hematologic and Neoplastic Diseases, Endocrine, Metabolis, Genetic Disorders, and the Adolescent.

The book has a good number of black and white images to offer.  It would have been nicer in color, but the pathology they are trying to illustrate is actually pretty clear. The ends of each chapter also have matching style questions, but the majority are your usual USMLE style multiple choice qbank questions. Answer explanations are satisfying for both correct and incorrect answer choices, and build upon themselves as you continue reading the book and hit on similar topics.

The differential for child presenting with limp is one of those things that can be solved on USMLE board and NBME shelf exams just by looking at the patient’s age (much like the leukemias).  To really solidify all the additional and weird diseases you most likely won’t see on your Pediatrics clerkship but will most assuredly be tested on, pick up a copy of PreTest Pediatrics.

 

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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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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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