Medical Mondays: Resources for the Basic Sciences (Year 1-2)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Welcome back! I totally didn't realize the Medical Monday link-up was on vacation for the summer but here I am anyway!  Today I'm sharing my must-have resources for your first two years of medical school! 

Because of our systems-based curriculum, I found that the books & resources I use typically carry over to each system. Our school provided many "required" textbooks on our iPads but unless the reading was mandatory, I rarely used them. Textbooks tend to be dense and provide way more information that you really need. You don't have time for all that! 

Below are the resources I found to be most helpful during my first year. I will continue to edit this list based on your suggestions!

For anatomy, we followed along with a dissector and also had a class textbook or two. When it comes to anatomy, the key is repetition. The best way to study is to grab a classmate or two and quiz each other in the lab. Don't just ask each other what something. Think, "What would go wrong if I injured this nerve?" "What would be injured if a patient experienced trauma here?" etc. Anticipate exam questions - chances are they will not be straight forward but rather higher level thinking questions.  
    • Netter's Flashcards
      • These are great for on-the-go anatomy quizzing. I used to carry mine around where ever I went so I had something to study at all times. They are just like the Netter's Atlas and contain an excellent amount of information beyond identification questions.
    • Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy
      • Beautifully illustrated and very accurate with everything you need and many different views of the anatomy. It's a book of art!
    • Rohen Color Atlas of Anatomy
  • I actually preferred this book when I didn't want to head to the anatomy lab - it contains real photos of cadavers which is helpful because the anatomy is not colorful and pretty like in the Netter Atlas. I suggest starting with Netter's and then once you get more familiar with the material, start quizzing yourself with Rohen's.

    • ***First Aid for the USMLE Step 1
      • If ever there was a Bible for medical school, this would be it. Step 1 is the go-to book for board prep. I received my copy for "free" by signing up for an AMA membership. While I'm not studying for boards quite yet, it's a great resource that sums up topics and organizes information easily. 
    • BRS Physiology
      • I haven't purchased this yet (will be doing so before classes start) but I've heard great things. It summarizes everything and give you the high points you need for board review.
    • Goljan Rapid Review of Pathology
      • Basically a book of outlines. It's nice to refer to if I have a quick question but it can be kind of dense for everyday study. I don't think I will use it much for board prep but it helps me organize my thoughts and compare/contrast similar conditions.
    • Rapid Interpretation of EKGs
      • I used this book for our Cardiology/Clinical Medicine courses when we were learning to read EKGs (go figure, right?). It's idiot proof - literally has fill-in-the-blanks and walks you through basic EKG readings. It helped me a lot and contributed to my love of EKG interpretation!
    • Lange Pharmacology Flashcards
      • Pharmacology is not my strength. Probably because it requires rote memorization and not very much understanding. These cards are great - I annotate them as necessary but they usually contain all the information I need and more. Making your own flashcards takes way too long - these are a great shortcut! 

Osteopathic Specific:
    • OMT Review
      • The Bible for every Osteopathic Medical student. Unfortunately there aren't very many quality resources when it comes to OMM but this one really has everything you need. I didn't find it to be "enough" for my OMM class exams but I've heard it is completely adequate for board review. It isn't fancy or as nice as any of the other books so don't be alarmed by the austere nature of this will hug it and love it and sleep with it under your pillow.
    • CV Physiology
      • For Cardiology/Cardio physio - my professor is the author of this website and the accompanying textbook. Very comprehensive and easy to understand. Lots of quiz questions, too!
    • Learn The Heart - EKG Practice
      • Another Cardio site - great for learning/practicing EKGs
    • Easy Auscultation 
      • Learn heart sounds - good for a beginner's understanding!
    • University of Michigan Anatomy 
      • I used this to quiz myself before exams when I was done in the lab. An awesome resource that was very similar to my Anatomy course exams (minus identifications - those are a little weak and hard to tell what is being tagged).
    • UpToDate
      • You will need free access through your school but as the name suggests, this is the perfect source for finding the most up-to-date, evidence-based medicine. Sorry but your professions won't be impressed if you reference Wikipedia in the middle of a small group session - go for a credible source like UpToDate.
    • The Cochrane Library
      • Another subscription service available through your school. This is a database of meta-analysis and other reviews of the most current medical research. 
    • Firecracker
      • A new app I just dowloaded - you select topics you wish to review and it provides all sorts of questions to quiz your knowledge. You can keep track of how well you know each topic - keep reviewing until you know it!
    • Resuscitation
      • A fun GAME, especially for anyone interested in Emergency Medicine. A "patient" presents to the ED, you decide what kind of physical exam to conduct, what labs, treatments, imaging, etc. to do. Then you create your differential diagnosis and narrow down to your official diagnosis. A very comprehensive app - it's edutainment! 
    • Figure 1
      • Instagram for health professionals! It's a great way to interact with fellow professionals while learning about rare/cool/interesting diseases and patient presentations. 
Beyond spending your monopoly money on review books & resources, I strongly urge you to find a mentor that is ahead of you in school to pull information from - preferably a 2nd year who can help you excel at your specific school. Some schools will provide access to old exams, quizzes, and certain school-specific resources like note sets. Sadly, we don't have many of these resources at my school just yet so I rely heavily on blogs, Twitter friends, physician mentors, and strangers for my information (SDN, anyone?). 

I certainly do not think it's necessary to have all of these resources - you run the huge risk of overwhelming yourself and going broke. Pick a few things that work for YOU and go with it. In the end, you are being texted on a specific set of information and not how you acquired it. Studying is very individualized so don't feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing!

I will continue to update this list. What do you think? Any other resources I should add?

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