Let’s face it, during the basic science years of medical school you feel more like an over-hyped undergraduate than a medical student. You mostly look at PowerPoints and learn how to regurgitate large amounts of information. Finally clinical rotations come along and you realize that most of that information doesn’t mean jack. Clinical years aren’t QUITE like you’d picture them though. You do still need to read! Here are the books every medical student should have to succeed during their clinical years.
Pocket Medicine – This little green book is carried by just about every medical student for good reason. It provides a concise review of how to accurately diagnose, workup and treat 90% of the medical conditions you will encounter. I don’t know how they fit this into such a small package but it works. My “thata boy” factor immediately went up when I started carrying this book.
Surgical Recall – Medical students are always asking me what book they should get for their surgery rotation. This is it. This book literally walks you through your entire surgical rotation from how to tie knots to which segments of the liver the gallbladder sits on. If someone pimps you on something that is not in this book chances are it’s an unfair question.
Step-Up to Medicine – I found this book useful for both IM rotations and preparation for Step 2. Review books are always trying to strike the balance between being concise and comprehensive. Step-Up manages to accomplish this with the MASSIVE field of internal medicine which is an impressive feat. It is published in outline format but my favorite aspects are the “Clinical Pearls” boxes and the “High Yield Concept” headers. Just reading these will get you a long way toward learning IM.
Rapid Interpretation of EKG’s – Regardless of what field you go into you are going to have to interpret EKG’s. Even as a surgery resident I look at them almost daily. This is one of those skills that if you master early you will be ahead of your peers and really impress attendings. The author, Dale Dubin, may have a checkered past, but the fact remains that this book will solidify your understanding of basic as well as advanced EKG’s.
Case Files – The best way to learn a new concept is by encountering it in a patient. Unfortunately, patients don’t cooperate. You will see many instances of the more common diagnosis but may never encounter the “zebras”. That is where a series like case files comes in. It is the best substitute available to actually seeing a patient with a given diagnosis. By working through these cases you are sure to be able to identify both the horses and the zebras when it comes to boards and wards.
UpToDate – I had barely heard of this resource before starting my third year of medical school. Now I can’t imagine life without it. Not technically a book, this online database provides in-depth reviews of every disease process you will encounter based on the most recent evidence based medicine. It will become ubiquitous in most of your lives. Here’s a pro tip – it also contains “Patient Resources” – if your patient wants some basic information on their disease process this is often a great place to start.
The Internet – Seriously, it’s out there, use it. Our ability to quickly tap into a wealth of information from a handheld device would give Captain Picard some serious wood. If you want a reliable resource check out E-Medicine. If you just want to look something up Wikipedia is your friend.
That’s it, I’m pretty sure that is every single resource I used throughout my clinical years. If I think of more I will be sure to add them. Do you have any I should add?