Reviewer: Aaron Plattner, MD (Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services)
Description: This is a synopsis of the most up-to-date information in the field of psychiatry found on key standardized examinations.
Purpose: The author strives to provide a succinct yet comprehensive overview of the field of psychiatry, a daunting task given the vast amount of information. Despite the difficulty of this feat, the author impressively manages to compress a great deal of information for this book, yet undoubtedly there are gaps. However, the author notes in the preface that this book should not replace other current psychiatric literature.
Audience: Psychiatrists and neurologists who are preparing to take certification boards are the intended audience. The author also indicates that this book can be used as a reference, which readers may or may not find helpful.
Features: This book is divided into five units (brain, specific diseases, general diagnostic approaches, therapeutic methods, and law and ethics and economics), which are then further divided into chapters covering specifics. Each chapter has various bolded subcategories with several bullet points. Tables are interspersed throughout the text. References are listed at the end of the book, but it is unclear to what they refer within the text. The index is of minimal utility, given that most subjects are covered in one or two specific compressed sections that correspond to the appropriate chapter.
Assessment: As I prepare to take the boards, I am beginning largely by going over practice questions. Practice questions seem like a logical study tool because the vast amount of information makes it daunting to read various options. Thus, the format of this book makes it a welcome study guide. However, because the author strives to provide succinct yet comprehensive coverage, several sections present information without sufficient data to indicate why it was included in that particular section. At times, it is difficult to determine what the abbreviations represent. Additionally, the format makes it difficult to keep focused while reading the book over an extended period of time, which makes it necessary to have other sources of information available. By supplementing this book with other literature, readers will best be able to prepare for boards and/or use this as a quick reference.