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From The CriticsReviewer: Bradley R. Cutler, MD (Edward Hospital and Health Services)
Description: Part of the Case Files series, this is the fourth edition of a book of psychiatry cases aimed at medical students.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a structured framework for assessing and managing psychiatric patients through real patient presentations.
Audience: Targeted specifically at medical students, the book is meant to help them excel during their psychiatry clerkship as well as prepare for the USMLE Step 2 examination.
Features: Four sections compose the book. Section I sets out a method for approaching clinical problems in psychiatry, describing both the patient encounter and clinical problem-solving. Section II introduces the principles of psychotherapy and psychopharmacotherapy, with a discussion of various forms of psychotherapy and common psychiatric medications. The heart of the book is section III, which presents 60 clinical cases. Each case begins with a clinical vignette describing a patient's presentation and continues with a summary of pertinent points, brief answers, a detailed analysis of the case, an approach to the case, a comprehension test, and a list of resources for additional reading. Clinical pearls appear throughout the cases to highlight key points. As the authors explain, the cases are presented in random order to simulate the way in which practitioners encounter actual patients. Section IV provides a listing of the cases by case number, disorder, and category. Changes from the previous edition include the streamlining of many chapters, a rewrite of many of the questions, and an introduction to new psychiatric medications.
Assessment: While most psychiatric books describe psychiatric disorders outside the context of a patient, this book adds an extra dimension by describing mental illnesses in terms of an actual patient. The case format is excellent at simulating the clinical approach to a patient and the decision making needed to treat the patient. Unlike most books that force readers to learn by rote memorization, this book stresses mechanisms and underlying principles of psychiatry. Students with little time can quickly read the vignettes and check the corresponding answers, while those with more time can focus on the detailed explanations. When I was a medical student, I found an earlier edition of this book to be essential to my success during my psychiatry clerkship. This newest update should help many medical students succeed in the years to come.