Description: This is one of a series of review books designed to help trainees develop clinical skills and prepare for medical exams via a case-based format. Clinical vignettes are introduced, followed by questions that guide the reader through the diagnostic process.
Purpose: The purpose is to prepare medical students and graduate trainees for examinations in psychiatry.
Audience: Although targeted at trainees, the book also is useful for educators, as the cases provide excellent material for group learning.
Features: Part I of the book's three parts, on the basics, reviews the psychiatric history, mental status examination, case formulation and management strategies. The authors do a commendable job of distilling a wealth of information into 35 pages. They include helpful interviewing techniques, a quick synopsis of psychotropic medications, and a nice overview of nonpharmacologic treatments. Part II includes 22 cases, ranging from panic disorder, to late onset schizophrenia, to neuropsychiatric complications of Parkinson's disease. The authors use each case as a focal point for reviewing an entire topic (or two). The chapter on late onset schizophrenia, for example, explores legal issues related to the involuntary admission and administration of medications to a patient with poor insight. Outstanding tables are included with each case. The same chapter on late onset schizophrenia includes a table distinguishing features of early vs. late onset schizophrenia. Considerable time is devoted to the development of a differential diagnosis and ruling out organic etiologies for each case. Part III is devoted to self-assessment questions, provided in multiple choice format, matching format, and short answer questions. Correct answers are provided at the end of the book. The book also includes an index of cases by diagnosis. Readers interested, for example, in learning more about postpartum depression can use the index to identify the corresponding case. A bibliography of relevant articles and books appears at the end of each case.
Assessment: This book serves its purpose well. It is an ideal way to shift the learning process from rote memorization to a learner-centered process. The case-based discussions make psychiatric disorders come alive, placing students in the role of medical detective. I will incorporate this book into my practice as a medical educator.