Is it possible to read through whole of dense textbooks (such as Big Robbins)?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Jeesan, Sep 27, 2011.

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  1. Jeesan

    Jeesan 7+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    I was wondering, is it possible/should we go through the dense recommended textbooks cover to cover during our medical course? Some of the books that they prescribe here and I think which is quite similar everwhere is:

    Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton & Hall & Review of Medical Physiology by Ganong
    Harper's Biochemistry
    Basic & Clinical Pharmacology by Bertram G. Katzung
    Pathologic Basis of Disease by Kumar, Abbas, Fuasto & Aster [Robbins & Cotran]
    Review of Medical Microbiology & Immunology by Warren Levinson

    I've tried reading them but I can't go further than the first few chapters after which I have to resort to concise guide books cause the exams start knocking on my door & I don't have enough time to go through the main books. It happens every term! Although I have to admit I don't try much waste a lot of time on my 'recreation' :oops:

    The only book on the list that I think I'll be able to read almost to its entirity is the Warren Levinson one. I started off with Katzung for Pharma but now I mostly follow Lippincott's. Same thing happened with Biochem, used much more of Lippincott's than Harper's. And as for physio, I've been able to give a light read of only half of the chapters of Guyton and didn't read more than a very few lines from Ganong. For Pathology, again, just few light views from Robbins and mostly some local concise guides and tidbits of Goljan.

    The point is, am I going too shallow through medical school. Should I be reading more deeply through these 'classic' boooks for building a strong foundation of medical sciences?

    Sorry for the boringly long post! :oops:

    P.S.: I would just like to clear out that I'm talking about how to study through medical coursework and not about exam preparation. [And just for the info, I'm a 3rd year at a foreign med school]
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  3. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me 7+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Tally/Willkillya County
    I read most of big robbins....I wouldn't say it was super high yield, but I read it. So, is it possible? Yes. Is it the best use of your time? Probably not. Do I like answering my own questions in question-answer format? Yes.
  4. Jeesan

    Jeesan 7+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    Thanks for the reply MossPoh, so would you consider a person who completed Pathology from only guides without going through much of Robbins having poor knowledge base?
  5. Jack is Back

    Jack is Back

    May 27, 2011
  6. MrBeauregard

    MrBeauregard Soon-to-be PGY-1 5+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2009
    Personally, I love Robbins. Not the review, or the pocket version, but Big Robbins. I never enjoyed reading text books in college, but something happened when I hit medical school. I really try and put forth the effort to get through the chapters in Robbins that we are covering in class. As others have said, it probably isn't the best use of your time. I could definitely hit a higher yield source, but personally, I feel it would be at the expense of developing a better working knowledge of disease on the most fundamental level. Since beginning to read Robbins, I feel as if I can better explain the pathologic mechanisms that define particular diseases/syndromes, and as a result, can more easily work through clinical scenarios in regards to downstream sequelae. It takes time to read it and sometimes it may take me two passes to really put it all in my head, but I feel it's worth it. I'm not really doing it in order to kill my in-house exams, but am doing it more for the benefit of having board review be a true "review" and not really have to relearn or even learn things for the first time. I think it depends on how much time you feel you have and if you can really devote any free time to sitting down and reading a dense text such as Robbins.

    As for Katzung's Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, I personally enjoy this book as well. I don't quite use it as religiously as I do Robbins, but it's definitely a good source if you're not quite sure of or can't understand the mechanism of action of a particular drug.

    Hope this helps, and realize it's only an n=1, so it all comes down to how you feel it would benefit you in the end. Maybe try reading them for a week and see if you feel like you actually understand things better. If so, maybe you should keep it up.
  7. Jeesan

    Jeesan 7+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    MrBeauregard, thanks a bunch, that does help a lot :thumbup:! I've been feeling the same way as well so its assuring to see someone say the same thing. I think I will start reading Robbins and see how I do for a week. As for the others, especially Katzung, I think I'll leave them for stuffs I don't fully understand from Lippincott's or the other reviews.
  8. Valadi

    Valadi 5+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2010
    Agree with MrBeauregard. Robbins is worth a read. There is another 'medium' Robbins out there which is like 2/3 the size of the big without sacrificing much of the content.

    Guyton I read select units out of (cardio, pulm, renal) and fount it to be absolutely amazing. I highly suggest reading those units, but the basic physio stuff (nerve conduction, etc) you can replace with a high yield review or class notes.

    The rest are not worth going through. I have big katzung and pocket katzung. I read all of pocket katzung and a select few chapters in big katzung on topics that I had trouble with, but I wish I didn't buy it and just checked it out from the library as needed. I gave it an honest effort to get through, but just couldn't fit it in.

    Almost everything you need to know about micro is in Microbio made Ridiculously Simple, and immune system in the (very short ~90pg) How the Immune System Works books. Supplement with class notes and you're golden.

    Get Harper's Biochem if you need a sturdy object to bludgeon yourself with, otherwise I'd suggest using Lippincott's or Rapid Review Biochem.
  9. DoctwoB

    DoctwoB 7+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Possible? Yes. Worth your time? No.

    Keep them around, and when you have trouble with a concept, go look it up in big robbins.
  10. DrYoda

    DrYoda Space Cowboy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Dagobah System
    Yes, but as others have said it's not an efficient use of your time.
  11. isoquin

    isoquin Allopathetic 5+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    possible but painful. the better question is why you would want to. there does come a limit of taking in knowledge you don't use practically. it just won't be retained. I agree with others, in that smart studying is better than marathon studying.

    but it's a common first year enthusiasm to want to get through such books. If you can and have the drive, by all means don't let anyone stop you before the steam runs out. Just realize that it's not needed for your classes or your overall personal learning if you're not actively utilizing/retaining that information.
  12. Jeesan

    Jeesan 7+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    Thanks all you guys! That helps A LOT.

    And Valadi, thank you for touching up on all the books. Now I know what to do with each of them!
  13. Shadowmoses

    Shadowmoses 5+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2011
    Agree with Valadi on Harper's. Do yourself a favor and destroy that book.
  14. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist 7+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2010
    The "Garden" State
    What would be a better use of your time for Path?
  15. Valadi

    Valadi 5+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2010

    Haha metal gear? I just beat mgs 4. That game was sick.
  16. Brewmeister


    Jul 16, 2011
    I call shenanigans on this. I think anyone who read and understood FA / Goljan Pathology could explain the pathophysiology of, oh say, asthma, just as well as you or any other student who read Robbins. I think you are trying to justify your time investment in these books.

    Robbins and other big textbooks are a waste of time for medical students. Maybe during your Pathology residency you should pick up big Robbins and attempt to read it...
  17. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod 7+ Year Member


    Guyton is one of the better texts you'll run into during med school. Unfortunately for it, Costanzo's text is possibly the best text you'll run into, and her BRS is, in my opinion, the best review book after RR Path and FA. In other words, though Guyton is better than most, it's still a waste. You'll find that most "good" texts run into similar issues. Review books and practice questions are the way to go.
  18. thesauce

    thesauce Senior Member Gold Donor 10+ Year Member

    Aug 5, 2005
    Agree with this.

    OP: You're probably not missing much by not reading the big texts. I was so busy reading the path lectures that I never cracked Big Robbins until the very end of the course. When I first opened it, I found that my lectures had come straight from the book, essentially chapter by chapter. You're probably getting more of it than you realize.
  19. hqt331

    hqt331 2+ Year Member

    May 15, 2009
    I was planning on getting Costanzo Physio (not the BRS one) + Guyton Pocket Companion for Physio (haven't started Physio yet). Can anyone comment on whether that is sufficient, or whether I need the Guyton Pocket Companion at all?
  20. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod 7+ Year Member

    That's more than enough.
  21. Brachyury

    Brachyury 2+ Year Member

    Jul 19, 2010
    Old Swampy
    I read Big Robbins, and I truly believe I did well because I read the book.

    I went to a LAC, and I started reading the New Yorker in middle school, so for me, reading Big Robbins was a walk in the park. However, some of my classmates could only read 5-7 pages in a hour, so obviously for them, Robbins was probably a waste of time. Looking back, I wish I had read a physio text book along with my class. I did, however, read an anatomy text along with my class material, and I think that was a waste of time: I should have spent more time in the anatomy lab and less time reading anatomy in the library
  22. MrBeauregard

    MrBeauregard Soon-to-be PGY-1 5+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2009
    You can call "shenanigans" all you want. It isn't my prerogative to make sure that you believe me when I say I've read the chapters. I have, and I do it with every pathology lecture we are given. In fact, as soon as I finish this post, I'm going to go read about some primary lung tumors.

    I never said that someone who doesn't read Robbins couldn't understand the pathophysiology of, oh say, asthma. I did say that for me, I feel like I have a better understanding of it. I also didn't say that I have a better understanding than most other people; I said that I have a better understanding of it now than I would had I not read it. I'm sure there are people who have an equally good understanding of certain diseases and they have never read Robbins, but that's not me.

    I also have Goljan RR and I read that, too. I actually listen to all of the Goljan lectures and follow along in his book after I've read the appropriate chapters in Robbins. I don't use RR as my primary pathology text because I don't feel it is good for a learning source, hence the title of the text. I like the sentence and paragraph structure of Robbins compared to the outline format of RR. It works better for my learning style. And also, if I listen to a lecture and follow along in RR, it just cements it further into my head.

    Finally, I'm not really trying to justify my time. I'm simply trying to maximize my learning experience, and I feel that these steps helps me to do that. I don't really care about justifying to anyone why I read the books I read. If the OP doesn't feel that what I do would be a good use of his/her time, then s/he shouldn't do it. We all have to find our own way and do what works for us.
  23. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod 7+ Year Member

    *sigh* Where's a disgusted head shake smily when you need one?
  24. shadowfox87

    shadowfox87 7+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    Everything's possible if you really want to. I have both Big Robbins and Basic Robbins open as ebooks, whatever I can't find in one, I'll find in the other, that's how I use them. Big Robbins also has some more gross and histo pics which are good for exams if you know what I mean.
  25. amakhosidlo

    amakhosidlo Accepted 7+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2008
    Cross-referencing Gojan's RR with your class notes.

    Then, if you don't get something, or want to read more about something for fun-sies, look it up in big Robins.
  26. Brachyury

    Brachyury 2+ Year Member

    Jul 19, 2010
    Old Swampy
    I'm assuming you're an Atlantic fan

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