Description: This is a quick reference for the junior medical student, based on the curriculum recommendations of the Committee of Directors in Internal Medicine. It succeeds in limiting content to what the authors call "High Yield Facts," presented in an eye-friendly outline format that will serve students well in preparation for presentations and rounds, as well as providing a review of what they learn from more comprehensive sources.
Purpose: As part of the First Aid series, this book is designed to give a junior medical student an outline-based review of the subspecialties of internal medicine. As an adjunct to more detailed reading and other learning modalities, this goal is worthy, and the book's success makes it a useful addition to the student's resources.
Audience: Although the authors specifically target junior students as the audience for this book, it could provide useful review for residents and for attending physicians who may spend less time in certain subspecialties. Four of the five authors are residents, and one is an attending physician. Their voices are most authoritative when speaking to what is pertinent and practical for a junior student. Since our junior students can no more master all of internal medicine during a clerkship than they could memorize every cutaneous nerve in gross anatomy, this kind of advice is sure to be helpful.
Features: The book's greatest value lies in its careful selection of information included as "High Yield Facts." Across subspecialties, the choice of topics and the information presented appear appropriate and accurate. There are a few exceptions, such as the statement that the CSF protein in viral meningitis is normal or low. (It can be mildly elevated.) In the cardiology section, lack of postmenopausal hormone replacement thereapy is listed as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, while in the health promotion section, there is mention of recent data that calls that assertion into question. The section on dementia fails to include the mini-mental status exam, which is surprising given the other useful information in the tear-out cards at the back of the book.
Assessment: The white coat pockets of junior students bulge with small texts, personal notebooks, and now of course, PDAs. Although this is a full-sized book and will not fit even the largest pocket, its different take on a huge body of information and its reasonable price make it another choice worth considering. The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001) extends into pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management in very fine print and books like Harrison's Manual of Medicine: A Companion Handbook to Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (McGraw-Hill , 2002) pack tons of infomation into a pocket-sized small print book, but this book sticks to its limited purpose and goals. It gives the student another option, another way of slicing a very thick stack of data that could just make the clerkship itself "Higher Yield."