A Brief Guide to Textbooks
Or “How to get through Medical School without spending your entire Student Loan on books you’ll never use again!”
For every module in every year at Medical School, the faculty provides a list of textbooks that even the keenest of students couldn’t dream of making their way through. Whether it’s due to the relentless call of Ocean et al in pre-clinical years, or days on placement in clinical years, there’s a limited amount of time available for studying, and knowing which textbooks to get your hands on is crucial knowledge.
My first piece of advice would be this: if at all possible, don’t buy, use Greenfield library. Even if you end up purchasing the book out of exasperation after it has been requested back for the third time in a row, at least you know that you like it. Alternatively, if you are a member of the BMA, their library does a nifty little online service where they will post you books for free.
Secondly: get advice. This guide will provide a starting point, but different people will have different opinions. Ask your medic parent; if you’re lucky, not only will they be able to point you in the right direction, but they’ll offer to loan you a copy of said book!
Thirdly: if you decide to buy a book during the preclinical years, and it’s in a subject like Biochemistry where not much will have changed, get an old edition for next to nothing from Amazon. Once you get to clinicals, having up to date knowledge is quite important, so most recent editions are best.
Fourthly: in pre-clinical years, the lectures are actually pretty comprehensive.
Now onto the books themselves. As mentioned previously, some of the lists are almost hilariously long; the ones below are the most notable.
Kumar and Clark, Clinical Medicine – just don’t. I’m sure you have something better to spend £50 on. If you get a burning desire to read it in Freshers’ year, there are many copies in the library. If you decide it’s the textbook you want to use for Finals, buy it in 5th year; your Freshers edition will be 4 years out of date.
Sherwood or Berne’s Physiology textbooks – for EXT, CRH. I heard good reviews of both. I preferred Sherwood. Try and borrow a copy – you won’t use them much later on.
Lowe, Core Pathology – for CLS. This is genuinely a well-written, very well formatted book, and it will also see you through second year CLS, and CP1 Pathology tutorials.
Gray’s Anatomy for Students – Anatomy is one of the few modules for which I’d advise you 100% to buy a textbook. It’s the diagrams that really make this book what it is, although it is well-written too.
Moore and Agur, Essential Clinical Anatomy – this is traditionally the recommended text for Nottingham, so buy Gray’s, but borrow this for a flick through so you’re well prepared for exam questions.
Flashcards – very useful when revising for the Spotter exam. Team up with a friend, and buy a set each, one of them pictures (different from your textbook) and one with photos of dissections.
Champe, Biochemistry – for MBM. AKA Lippincott’s – there are bound to be some cheap versions of this floating round, and as the key text, I would get this one.
Rang and Dale’s Pharmocology – you should probably get the most up to date version of this (I bought an old edition, and drug names CHANGE.)
You can reuse (/reborrow) your physiology, pharmacology and anatomy textbooks from first year. In addition:
Fitzgerald, Clinical Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience – there was no general consensus on textbooks for the nightmare that is FBN, but this one always seems popular. Library it first.
Goldacre, Bad Science, recommended for REM, is actually a pretty good read. There are millions of copies in the library.
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine: You may hear it called the “Cheese and Onion” (because apparently that’s what colour the crisps used to be back in the dark ages) – it’s pretty much worth its weight in gold on the wards.
The Heron Guide: available from Lenton Print Shop. The advantage over the Red Guide is that you can reuse it for CP3. It’s basically Davidson’s, arranged under learning objective headings.
Davey, Medicine at a Glance: For cramming before the exam.
Psychiatry Crash Course: indispensable.
The Illustrated Textbook of Paediatrics: again, indisputably the one to get for Paeds.
Specials textbooks are more contentious; I’d personally recommend Corbridge, Essential ENT Practice, Galloway, Common Eye Diseases and Their Management and Hunter, Clinical Dermatology.
Finally, Obs and Gynae is also divisive. Ten Teachers is co-written by City Hospital consultants, but if you can’t hack the extended prose, Impey has got the basics. Magowan is not NLE-recommended but by all accounts is a good text.
Look at the reading list on the NLE. Laugh. Dig out the CP1 materials again.