Description: There are many learning opportunities in a hospital ward during the down times of a clinical rotation. The authors seek to help students identify those golden moments or opportunities to learn what is not found in most textbooks.
Purpose: They guide students to useful learning encounters that might otherwise be wasted if they just sat and read. These are indeed worthy objectives, since learning at the point of care is the most effective learning of all. The authors make a good attempt to cover the more common situations.
Audience: Although written for medical students and residents, it is quite elementary for residents and they may not be inclined to use it. The material is applicable to all medical specialties since the skills are common to all fields of medicine. It is most useful for students just starting rotations who want to make a good impression.
Features: Because it is designed as a quick reference, it is arranged in sections with icons prompting readers about important tasks to be completed or individuals who need to be consulted. Icons also alert readers to the length of an activity. Brief anecdotes from practitioners around the U.K. and other countries highlight the points of each section. The book covers the core skills important for all physicians as they interact with patients, such as memory building, effective communication, and the art of doing and distilling information from the physical examination. An important section covers learning how to benefit from nurses and other allied personnel as teachers. The section on data analysis is also important in this world of electronic information exchange. I like the way the anecdotal accounts are distinguished from formal instructional material by different fonts. If the book fell short in any way, it is that it is a bit too abbreviated. It may have benefitted from a bit more formal didactic material and a few less personal accounts.
Assessment: This is an easy-to-read, quick guide to spare-time activities that enhance learning for third-year medical students about to begin clinical rotations. It is not intended as a formative text for rotations.