Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Medical Books Review

I love my At A Glance series... while they are not necessarily comprehensive, they definitely suit the purposes of a medical student and potentially a junior doctor. This series covers almost any condition that you could be tested on in medical school, with each condition spanning two pages, usually one page of text and one page of illustrations. Some topics (eg. cardiology, anatomy, medicine) come complete with multi-colour diagrams and illustrations while others like respiratory and gastro only come in black, white and one other color. I prefer multi-coloured diagrams obviously.. it keeps me entertained while I study. This series is a bit like those picture books we used when we were toddlers learning how to read in that they suit the level we are at, and make for enjoyable study. Note that I do not mean to say this series is too simple - they are in fact the first references I reach for when I need a quick fact-check and this is even when I am studying for major exams. Perfect for a medical student's tea table or as light bedtime reading!

 In terms of cardiology, I started with Netter's Cardiology and the usual Talley & O'Connor. I think every medical student should invest in a Talley & O'Connor textbook because it covers the basics really well and if you know this book back to front you'll have a pretty good foundation to build on later. Also, you can start using Talley & O'Connor right from first year. At least in Sydney you can because we see patients right from the get go.

In terms of Netter's, I bought it very early on because I've always been very interested in cardiology and I think I've actually read this cover-to-cover, which is more than what I can say for Talley's. I probably should have done it the other way round but Netter's was a really good read and provided much more depth than a medical student would need. It's been a great reference though, and is fairly comprehensive - some chapters (just a few) are a bit wordy.

After Netter's I moved on the Hurst's the Heart and acquired ECG Made Easy somewhere along the way. I'll start by commenting on the latter - while ECG Made Easy does explain ECGs quite well I found it much more useful as a reference AFTER I'd 'mastered' ECGs during a series of ECG tutorials by Dr Zacks in New York. I can't recommend a better way to master ECGs than Dr Zack's tutorials but given that these are not open to the general public I guess you can try John Hampton's book.

My Hurst's handbook was given to me on Christmas day 2011 by the wonderful Dr. Fuster himself. I think Dr Fuster is editor-in-chief of Hurst's at the moment. My copy of Hurst's is probably one of my most prized possessions at the moment given the sentimental value (I got Dr Fuster to inscribe inside too!). I have read most of Hurst's and have found it to be much more comprehensive than the other cardiology books I have read (note that this is the handbook version and the full version is likely to be even more comprehensive). There are no illustrations inside but the content is riveting and I'm surprised at how much information they have managed to fit into such a tiny book. The other thing I really like about this book is that it is reviewed fairly often so you can be assured that the statistics and details included are up to date. The chapters are written or revised by fellows and cardiologists and I think Dr Fuster reads through all of them to ensure accuracy. When I was at Mount Sinai they were reviewing the next edition of this book (I think they were looking at the full version but I cannot remember now) so keep a look out for the new copy! Given Dr Fuster's involvement with this book I would say that if you are interested in a career in cardiology you really should grab a copy of Hurst's because there is no other way for you to gleen something from the master himself (unless you are lucky enough to be a part of his Cardiology program in New York).

Hope these reviews helped and good luck with your studies.

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