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Surviving Medical School book recommendations

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Elixir86, May 26, 2008.

  1. Elixir86

    Elixir86 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    I was wondering if you all could provide some recommendations on books that deal with how to do well/"survive" medical school. Just to be clear, I'm not looking for books on Biochemistry, Anatomy, etc. to study before school begins. I'm just asking for recommendations about particular studying strategies, what to expect, how to organize my time, how to be more prepared, etc.. I checked previous threads with similar titles, but they were not useful.

    I've got a few months left before M1 starts and I just wanted something easy to read to get myself mentally prepared for what lies ahead. I don't mean to make this thread sound like a gunner request because that's not my intention at all. Thanks.
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  3. cpants

    cpants Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    Haven't read any strategy books, but I do recommend you read a book or two about studying and practicing medicine.

    I can recommend:
    How Doctor's Think by Jerome Groopman
    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
    Body of Knowledge by Steven Giegerich
    and any of Atwul Gwande's books

    Also make sure to read some fun stuff, and enjoy your freedom!
  4. SomeDoc

    SomeDoc 10+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    Not a recommendation of books, but...

    Focus on your coursework and grades
    Avoid involvement w/ classmate drama
    Do things for yourself in free time; eat, sleep well, interests outside medicine that you enjoy (ie hobbies, family, etc.)

    Do those three consistently, and it'll be pretty much be smooth sailing. Very simple, and easy to do with discipline and practice. There is beauty in simplicity.
  5. nu2004

    nu2004 5+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2008
    Los Angecagoveland
    pretty much the list i would have given you.

    start off with the Groopman - the writing is simple enough and the main points are hammered home over and over (there's a reason it's a best-seller), making for very easy reading. you'll never find yourself going back and re-reading to understand anything. it's a great book for us, the semi-initiated into medicine.
  6. Elixir86

    Elixir86 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2007

    Thanks for your recommendations. I've actually read Groopman's book as well as all of Atul Gawande's books. For anyone else who hasn't read those, I also recommend you pick them up and read them. I'll definitely look into Stiff (I always see it at B&N when I hover around the medicine section) and Body of Knowledge. Lately, I've been reading some health policy books, but I need something more exciting. Once again, thanks!
  7. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats 10+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Any of the self-reflective chronicles by various physicians out there make for good motivational reading, mainly because they let you feel that there IS light at the end of the tunnel.

    One long ass tunnel.
  8. Monica Lewinsky

    Monica Lewinsky 2+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    read SDN posts in the allo forum. Its free and has the advantage of a community based input rather than a biased view of the author(s) of the medical school experience.
  9. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats 10+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Haha you dont think SDN is biased? It's a pretty self-selected view of medicine around here sometimes.
  10. Monica Lewinsky

    Monica Lewinsky 2+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    at least its more than just one viewpoint
  11. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Yeah, it's dozens or hundreds of viewpoints, many suspect. When I get a jones to read, I like to read quality writing from qualified writers, not anonymous posters on a web forum, many of them grandstanding or itching ego problems.

    SDN is a lot of fun and can sometimes be informative if you are careful about who to believe, but I don't think it will put books out of business any time soon.
  12. albe

    albe Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2006
    Med School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Medical School Experience: By Students, for Students by Robert H. Miller, Daniel M. Bissell, MD.
    If you want something to read before classes start, I would go for this. This is a comprehensive book that gives tips for the preclinical as well as clinical years. It gives you a good idea of what to expect in med school, along the lines of how you should approach studying for the different classes. You'll get a good general idea of how everything works, but if you want even more specific tips for classes, I would definitely ask the upperclassmen at your school. Each school has its own way of running the courses, so no book is going to be as good of a resource as someone who has taken that same course at your university.

    The Med School Survival Guide: How to Make the Challenges of Med school Seem Like Small Stuff by Jennifer Danek, MD.
    This book is a collection of bits of advice. Whereas the previous book dealt more with specifics about classes, this one deals with "living the life of a med student." I think it's great because it gives tips that I would expect from a mentor, such as good habits to adopt while on the wards. It's a book you should look at before starting and then go back to it every once in a while to keep your perspective on things. I don't think it's published anymore, but you may be able to find it from a private seller.

    Iserson's Getting into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students by Kenneth V. Iserson, MD.
    The title sums it up. I've seen this book recommended a few times. It's not really a book to read through before starting med school, but it's a book that you should have for reference. I haven't used it very extensively, but I imagine it'll be really useful in the next few years.
  13. Elixir86

    Elixir86 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2007

    Awesome, thanks a lot. These were the kinds of books I was looking for. Hopefully my local library will have some copies (I'm trying to save as much money as I can these days for obvious reasons).
  14. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    I found Iserson's to be helpful even though there were large chunks that I just skimmed (about the stuff that comes later rather than earlier).

    I also found this book helpful Its aimed at college students but it has some good advice to help you find your study groove in medschool if you aren't already a skilled studier. I picked it up because I knew my flashcard strategy from undergrad (namely make flashcards from notes and study them the night before a test) probably wasn't going to work for medschool but I had no clue how else to study. I've loaned it to a few of my classmates who also found it useful.
  15. Monica Lewinsky

    Monica Lewinsky 2+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Do you honestly think people lie when they are giving advice on SDN? I can see that maybe for some of the "getting into X residency" type topics. But for advice about how to study for coursework, and what resources are best, SDN can't be beat.
  16. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner Moderator Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Why do men have nipples is a good one.
  17. sernic

    sernic Member 7+ Year Member

    May 17, 2004
  18. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats 10+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Not lie. But not all advice is good advice. I'll admit I've probably posted some dumb stuff on SDN before.
  19. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    People don't lie much, but you get as much bad advice as you do good advice. ZagDoc is right on target (and your advice is usually solid, ZD).

    Med students seem to largely skew to type A personalities with more confidence than experience. Because of that, the sort of advice you get on SDN is always stated with authority even though it's so often either not quite on target or criminally wrong.

    The problem with SDN or any anonymous web-forum is that you don't have personal experience with most posters so it's hard to separate the bad from the good. Caveat emptor.

    (btw, there are many exceptions to the overconfident type A med student and the quantity of these folks weighed heavily on my decision of where to attend medical school)
  20. Doctor J

    Doctor J Libelous. 10+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    I can't believe no one has suggested "House Of God" by Samuel Shem.

    Read. Laugh. Cry. Trust that if he can get through all that and still manage to find happiness in his career that you can too.
  21. Elixir86

    Elixir86 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    I heard a lot about this book, but strangely, they don't carry it at any of my city's libraries (I'm trying to save money and borrow from the library instead of buying at the moment). Some people have told me that there are some sexual episodes in the book and I'm wondering if that's why they don't have it. Even David Sedaris's book Naked isn't available at my libraries!
  22. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant 5+ Year Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    No its not. I don't see things the same way as you. :D
  23. NJDIF

    NJDIF 7+ Year Member

    May 20, 2007
    house of god was the greatest.

    how come the jen danek book is so expensive?
  24. drc243

    drc243 New Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    I think the most important thing to do as a medical student is balance the studying and personal time.
    1)Its very important to take time off from studying and make so me time. Unless you have finals coming out make sure to go out with friends atleast once a week.
    2) Also try to start a reasonable excercise shedule that has you working out atleast 3X a week. Excercise will keep stress and both your weight down. I wish someone told me this before med school because i now find myself very burnt out and fat. Literally i have gained 20 pounds in medical school. I went from 160 to 180 pounds in 10 months. Once my neuro exam is over i going to start running again which i stopped the first week of med school because i could not find the time.
    3) If you begin to struggle in med school as many including myself has dont be
    afraid to ask for help. Most medical schools want you to succeed and have study couselors to identify why your performance many not be as efficient as it should be. Also seek out fellow classmates who may able to help you. I had a friend that basically got me through head and neck anatomy by reviewing with mehh. It was a win-win, he honored the block while getting a 97 on the anatomy practical and i very happily passed the block.

    best of luck,
  25. Jwax

    Jwax Just a minor variation 10+ Year Member

    Nov 9, 2005
    "White Coat: Becoming a Doctor at Harvard Medical School" by Ellen Lerner Rothman.

    I remember reading it about a year before I got in to med school, and I enjoyed it. I tried to re-read it during the past year and couldn't manage it though. I also read the How Doctors Think book last summer (a gift from my folks), and since someone else suggested it was a good re-read, I think I'll do so since I don't have anything else to read while I go visit my grandpa in small town Nebraska for the weekend. :)

    They don't have House of God at my libraries either, nor did they have it at a Barnes and Nobles last year when I went looking for it. I imagine I will have to buy it off of Amazon or something if I ever want to read it. I figure I'll do so a little closer to residency, since that's what it is about, right?

    Speaking of, I liked "Intern Blues" as well, but it certainly makes you nervous about the future.
  26. EMH

    EMH ARNG - MC 10+ Year Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    I'm just astounded it took 19 posts for the house of god to come up. I consider it required reading. Keep in mind it was written 30 years ago.
  27. rachmoninov3

    rachmoninov3 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2004
    OK, so we all love the doctor books, but in medical school you will be faced with major social, psychological, and personal challenges before you do something to kill a patient.
    The fact is that in medical school you will be pushing your brain to the limit, and often there are pyschological side effects of doing such. Therefore, I recomend:

    Markings by Dag Hammarskjold
    The Tao of Pooh

    They have nothing to do with medicine, but might be helpful in fortifying your psyche for all the crap it's about to go through.
  28. tbo

    tbo MS-4 10+ Year Member

    May 5, 2002
    So there's a "Surviving Medical School book recommendations" thread floating around. I was wondering if the folks who have gone through med school have any personal recommendations.
  29. PeepshowJohnny

    PeepshowJohnny 2+ Year Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    You probably won't get it before you start, but sometimes schools put out "student to student" guides that give you the inside scoop on how things run at your school.

    The quality varies widely in the ones I've seen so your mileage may vary. The advice they give runs from frustratingly general ("Don't fall behind in your coursework") to almost criminally detailed ("Dr. Jones takes all of his questions from the practice questions of this textbook.")
  30. stiffany

    stiffany Hurry up and wait... 5+ Year Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    I was nervous about anatomy before starting medical school (If you are too, don't worry, you'll be fine likely by the end of the lab period). Body of Work by Christine Montross is a great introduction. In addition, there's this book on the art of healing more than the experience of medical school persay: Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen. It (along with friends, yoga, and exercising) helped keep things at least moderately in perspective for me this year. None of these are really helpful for time management skills, but they are good food for thought.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2008
  31. zephyrhills123

    zephyrhills123 10+ Year Member

    Nov 9, 2006
    Surviving Medical School by Robert Coombs. It basically goes through each year with the most common insecurities or problems faced by each group of students. For instance, the first year section is entitled "Am I Smart Enough?" and addresses stuff like workload, competition and cooperation, status deprivation, clinically irrelevant minutia, authoritarianism, cadavers, and emotional crisis. It goes on with each year, as well as talking about relationships in medicine, student diversity, etc. I think it helps to validate any feelings you might have but aren't necessarily being spoken about by your classmates.

    For some reason it's ridiculously expensive on Amazon, so I'd get it at the library (I got my copy at one of those library book sales for $2).
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  32. HanginInThere

    HanginInThere 5+ Year Member

    May 24, 2007
    the library
    That was actually my big complaint with How Doctors Think. I thought Groopman could have argued the same theme more compellingly in a book about 1/3 the length. It felt like I was reading a bunch of repetition and filler that should have been cleaned up by his editor.

    I'll put in a vote for Michael Collins' Hot Lights, Cold Steel. I read it because it gets recommended so consistently around here, but honestly I went in expecting to have a hard time relating to the crazy surgeon with 12 kids. He's such a good writer/storyteller, though, that I was completely hooked.

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