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Case Files Internal Medicine

As some of you may know, I’m hoping to apply to a Internal Medicine residency for Carms next year. I have several electives all lined up in various specialties and different schools. To prepare, I’ve been going over several resources and I would just like to do a quick review of one of my favorite ones:

Case Files Internal Medicine

Case Files Internal Medicine, Third Edition (LANGE Case Files)

A quick summary

A easy read with 60 cases with high-yield information. Each case takes approximately 5-10 minutes to get through and covers all the most essential information you must know. Fun to learn from and very memorable. If you read this thoroughly before your IM rotation, you’ll be one step ahead.

Pros

  • Reads easily, cases capture your attention. Simple yet thorough language.
  • Sticks well, able to retain a lot of information through memorable cases.
  • Covers the KEY facts for each topic
  • Good flow charts and tables as supplements
  • Teaches you how to think through a case from start to finish

Cons

  • The questions at the end of each case is probably a bit too easy
  • Can get repetitive if you try to sit through and read all the cases in an afternoon. Break it up and read a case or two a day over a month
  • May not provide the depth as a full textbook like Harrison or a resource like UpToDate
  • Missing specifics of treatment (ie dosage, follow up plans, prognosis)

Conclusion

  • Great book to read for IM, especially if you’re just starting out and want to get the basics on common presentations.
  • Best to read early in your clinical years, perhaps just before your IM rotation
  • Will need to supplement with a heavier text after you’ve mastered all the basic knowledge
  • Cheap price tag, good quick reference
  • Easy to read, practical knowledge you can use on the wards

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Toronto Notes

Over the family day long weekend, I got a little break from the day in day out stresses of clerkship. Anyways, I just want to put out a big plug for one of my favorite resources of all-time.

TORONTO NOTES

(www.torontonotes.ca)

I heard of this volumous text even in my pre-med days. It’s basically THE encyclolpedia Bible of medical knowledge for medical students. I might be exaggerating a bit but I’ve passed a many exams and clerkship rotations with this good book.

A quick summary from their website

Toronto Notes originated as an informal compilation of notes, developed by the University of Toronto graduating medical school class to help each other study for the MCCQE I. Twenty-six years later, it has evolved into a 1400-page textbook, a clinical handbook, and multiple online resources ranging from an online version of the text to PDA software to interactive learning tools. Toronto Notes is now sold throughout the world, and almost all Canadian medical students use Toronto Notes throughout their training.

I could go on and on about why I love this resource, from it’s high yield and EBM tidbits to it’s friendly formatting and awesome mnemonics. This is THE student’s notebook to medicine. Here’s the quick summary.

Pros:

  • Breadth and depth, covers over 25+ specialties including all the most high yield knowledge
  • Evidence based with good tidbits on papers, trials, etc on the margins
  • Friendly formatting
  • Awesome for summarizing large amounts of information
  • The info on the margins is GOLD! You’ll learn all the best mnemonics and questions staff always pimp you on

Cons:

  • Everything is in bullet form, therefore it’s hard to learn from it as a primary resource
  • Can be tedious to lug around (1000+ pages) though you can rip out each section and just put it in a folder that is convenient to carry
  • Occasional errors here and there, but relatively few for a volume this big

Conclusion:

  • If you are a medical student in Canada, do yourself a favor and pick up the latest copy of Toronto Notes. It’s only around $150 something if you buy it through your school, and it can easily last you all 4 years in medical school.
  • I will probably pick up a new version at the end of med school. They constantly update it and you can access all the information online too.

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The Essential Pocketbook for Medicine

Anyone who has ever been on a medicine rotation in a hospital book must have surely noticed the little Red Pocket Medicine Book, which in its newest version is actually now a Green Book, published by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

This concise, pocket size (perfect fit for a white coat) is a lifesaver for anyone in internal medicine. It’s thorough, evidence based and has saved my butt many times on the ward. It’s one of the best references for medical students, residents and even attending staff use it.

Check out the free sample pages on Amazon and just read the reviews!

Pros: If you are able to cover and master the material in this small book, you’ll easily be at a resident level, maybe even a senior resident. The downside is the book is compact. It’s hard to learn the basics from it if you’ve never covered the contents before. If you’re lost at how to approach a problem, this book will tell you the essentials needed for the best standard of care in just a couple of pages.

Cons: It’s dense. Definitely need to have a more thorough teaching resource if you haven’t covered the diseases / approaches before. It also uses American trade names and units. The text can be small and packed together sometimes.

Conclusion: This book is an excellent reference and quick guide to all the major systems and disease processes in internal medicine. It is evidence based, compact and complete with its depth of knowledge. The downside if you’re for Canada is that it uses American units for lab values/dosages.

I highly recommend anyone considering internal medicine to buy this right away and start learning proven and evidence based  medicine! If you’re school subsidizes the purchase, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have one. A genuine lifesaver (saves patients and saves you from making mistakes) on the wards. It’s the one book I make sure I carry with me whenever I am on call.

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Textbook Review - First Aid for the Wards

I’m currently in the thick of the overwhelming rotation that is internal medicine (IM). Although the work hours are more reasonable than surgical specialties, what IM lacks in work houts it makes up in knowledge needed. It’s the equivalent of the knowledge of my the last two years, every last detail, crammed into a intense 8 week rotation. Needless to say, most of my time outside the hospital is spent reading around my cases and re-learning most of stuff I once knew. I’ll be reviewing a few of the texts I have been using starting with First Aid for the Wards by Tao Le et al

PROS: First Aid for the Wards is an easy read. It covers all the essential topics you need to know for all your core rotations in a simple fashion. From IM to pediatrics to surgery, it’ll ensure you know the bare minimum needed to survive. You can read this book cover to cover over a few days and get a good big picture of the most common cases.

The first chapter which is an introduction to the wards is a real gem. The necessary information you need to know to be a team player on the wards, write a thorough admission and progress note are all laid out and easy to understand. I highly recommend reading at least the first few chapters to familiarize yoursellf with your role as a student intern. I found it much better than Tarascon’s How to be a Truly Excellent Junior Medical Student. Both are good reads. I would recommend that you at borrow either book from the library just to learn the ins and outs of hospital work.

CONS: Don’t be fooled by the First Aid brand though, this is no First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2011 (First Aid USMLE) which many will swear by is the only book you need for doing well on Step 1. Furthermore, a lot of the topics are only covered superficially and often contains outdated information. There is no focus on evidence based medicine and the finer details that will make you stand out as an exceptional medical student are not included.

RECOMMENDATIONS: A good introductory text to topics covered in all your rotations. A quick simple read. The first chapter on Guide for Ward Success is an excellent guide on the roles of team members, expectations of students in medicine and surgery, how to admit patients and give great presentations. Definitely an excelllent introduction for people who have yet to step outside the classroom. Read this book at the end of your preclinical years. It willl be a good refresher and quick summary of key topics you should learn more about. However, it suffers because it is also just a cursory text that is lacking the depth that is needed in today’s evidence based standard of care

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