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From The CriticsReviewer: Thomas M. Guenthner, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This compact study guide, in outline format, is part of a series designed for review prior to USMLE Step 1.
Purpose: It is adapted from notes for a seven hour, one day review session of pharmacology. The underlying premise is "A good grasp of the major concepts of pharmacology is better than a poor grasp of all the concepts strikes for lowest common denominator." I personally don't like this premise, but the author's objectives are met.
Audience: The book is intended for students preparing for USMLE Step 1 (and possibly the pharmacology final exam). It is only for students who have already learned and internalized concepts — it has insufficient detail to actually teach the concept for the first time. The author is a credible authority in the subject matter of the book for he has taught pharmacology for more than 15 years, and has taught USLME review sessions for eight years.
Features: This book is a recapitulation of a standard, second year medical course in pharmacology. Each fact is presented as one sentence or less, and contains a few simple cartoon illustrations. If the information must be distilled into 120 pages, a very good job was done. However, there is still too much information omitted to allow real learning of concepts. This book only helps to recall or indicate areas of deficiency. It contains no index or references, but a table of contents serves as a simplified index.
Assessment: I am ambivalent about this text because I have never been comfortable with learning for the sake of exams. Nevertheless, this book will serve its stated purpose well. Perhaps it is best used as a means of identifying areas where a student is deficient or weak. In such a case, references would be good. Still, I am not sure how this is an improvement over other "review" texts. It is like a Cliff's notes approach to learning because it tempts students to accept it as a substitute for real learning.