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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christine J Waller, MD (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)
Description: This compact, pocket-sized book uses a case study and question format to counsel medical students and residents on commonly seen general surgery problems. It is divided into three sections: problems seen in the emergency department, problems encountered on the wards, and problems seen in the clinic. It will be a great reference for graduating medical students entering a general surgery residency. The large middle section on inpatient problems could also be of benefit to trainee hospitalists, who care for many of these patients in hospitals around the country.
Purpose: The authors cite three objectives: to smooth the transition to and readiness for residency; to bring residents' readiness to the next level by using a case-based approach; and to target what they really need to know to care for patients on day one. Thus, the purpose is to orient and help transition fourth-year medical students to the intern year of general surgery residency. The book admirably fulfills this objective. Now a chief resident, I wish I had this book six years ago.
Audience: Written for fourth-year medical students or interns going into general surgery residency, the book also will be of use to third-year students on their surgery clerkship and to students entering related disciplines such as trainee hospitalists. Physician extenders working in surgery also will find it of value. The problem-based format can also serve as an excellent refresher for senior residents anticipating oral boards. The four editors include highly regarded surgical educators and they have assembled an excellent cadre of chapter authors. The editors have done an excellent job of assuring overall consistency and quality.
Features: A very nice introductory section with advice on all sorts of key issues such as writing notes, functioning in a team, and survival skills, starts the book. The rest of the book consists of 59 chapters devoted to common clinical scenarios, titled by problem rather than diagnosis (for example, "A 52 year old woman with a suspected congenital coagulopathy" in the "Clinic" section) and each chapter guides readers through a series of questions and answers and a logical approach to the situation. Pearls and selected readings are included. The problems are typical of those encountered in surgical practice — new premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) in a postoperative vascular surgery patient or sudden worsening of pain in a postoperative patient — and reflect the actual nature of practice, since patients rarely announce their diagnosis. The scenarios are grouped into three major settings — the emergency department, the hospital, and the clinic. The case presentations are brief and realistic and dovetail nicely with the current educational trends toward simulated patients and case-based learning. A limited number of well selected, high quality illustrations make key points.
Assessment: The expertise of the editors and authors, and their goal of providing their readers with the knowledge they need to move forward, distinguish this book from the many aimed at senior medical students. This is a not a board prep book, although it would function admirably for that; it is a true companion and guide. It will be of value to students and residents, and could be a useful resource for graduating residents looking toward the boards.