Top Ten Books for the USMLE Step 2 CK Exam

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3.

There is a lot of weight placed on the USMLE Step 1 exam as it has a significant effect on how competitive you are as a residency candidate. I submit to you that the UMSLE Step 2 CK is far more important in the long run because it will test you on things that are actually relevant to your future practice and your patients. You take Step 1 for yourself, you take Step 2 for your patients. This is stuff that we all just need to know. So, don't worry about score and just worry about the material, your patients will be greatful.  Below is a list of the books I found most helpful for USMLE Step 2 CK. 

  • Updated May 2015

1. First Aid for Step 2 CK:

There are a few brands that have never let me down in USMLE test preparation: First Aid, Kaplan, and USMLE World. I swear by First Aid for Step 1, and I found First Aid for Step 2 to be nearly as concise and comprehensive. A great resource

 

2. USMLE Step 2 Secrets:

This is a fantastic summary book that does not take long to read. Rather than a list of all the facts, like First Aid give you, Secrets gives the reader a great review of high yield information. This would be a great book to read the week or two before the exam to help you pick up a number of extra nuggets.

 

3. Crush Step 2:

Crush Step 2 is written by the same author as USMLE Step 2 Secrets (#2). The content of the two books is mostly the same. Crush Step 2 is written in prose and paragraphs rather than in clinical scenarios and question format. Decide which format you prefer, because you certainly wouldn't need both books.

 

4. Master the Boards, USMLE Step 2 CK:

This book induces a borderline personality disorder. Some students love it, some students hate it. The book does not attempt to be a complete review, it tries to hit hard only the high yield points. Students who are looking for a more complete review of the information should probably not purchase this book.


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5. Step-Up to Medicine:

This is a tried and true book for many aspects of the second half of medical school. A great book for many rotations and shelf exams, it is also a fantastic preparation USMLE Step 2 CK. Much of this board exam will rely on basic internal medicine knowledge. The book is also great for Step 3, so you can kill two birds with one stone. 

 

6. Kaplan USMLE Step 2 Qbook:

If you frequent this website, you know that I believe STRONGLY that the best way to prepare for a board exam made up of hundreds of questions is to do thousands of questions. I really like both Kaplan's online QBank as well as USMLE World's online QBank. However, you are not always at a computer and you will find that question books are a nice rest from the screen. Kaplan's Step 2 Qbooks one of the best on the market.

7. First Aid Cases, USMLE Step 2:

Like Kaplan's Step 2 Qbook (#6), the First Aid company has also produced some great print question banks. The 'Cases" book is a case-based approach with great review questions. In addition, they also publish First Aid Q&A for the USMLE Step 2 CK which rivals Kaplan's Step 2 Qbook as the best print question book on the market.

8. Kaplan USMLE Step 2 Lecture Notes:

Recently, Kaplan has allowed students to purchase their complete Lecture Notes for board exams, including these Step 2 notes, without actually taking their in-person classes. This was not always the case. I have used these texts and I was very impressed. Altogether these review books are very long and very expensive. However, they come from a company that knows very well how to get students good exam scores.

 

9. Step-Up to USMLE Step 2:

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I prefer Step-Up to Medicine (#5) as a Step 2 study resource to the book that Step-Up wrote specifically for Step 2. I used the second edition of Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 and it was good, but from what I am hearing the third edition has a poor layout and not well updated. 

 

10. Travel Book du jour:

You need to study for Step 2, it will help you be a better intern and resident. However, you are probably a fourth year student getting ready to fly around the country. You may not ever travel this much in this short of a time. Here is some unsolicited advice, take an hour to enjoy the city you are in…so see some of the stuff in this book.

 
 
 

Spotlight Interview: How to Match in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

PM&R Vintage

 

A Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) Resident’s Perspective:  From an interview with a PM&R resident from Ohio.

 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • How competitive is the PM&R match?

Matching in PM&R is not as competitive as some fields, such as radiology, neurosurgery, dermatology, etc. However, it also used to be a relatively unknown specialty. Medical student exposure to PM&R has improved and the number of applicants seems to be steadily increasing, so it is becoming more competitive.

 

  •  What must a student do to match well in PM&R?

A student looking to match well in PM&R should focus on the same things students would pursuing other specialties. Like any specialty, doing well on boards is important. Most programs have now instituted board score cut-offs for applicants, which are around 200-220 for USMLE Step 1. In general, students should perform well on their clinical clerkships throughout medical school, and a rotation is PM&R is preferred. Strong supportive letters of recommendation, including one from someone in PM&R, is preferred. At least some exposure to or participation in research is also a plus.

 

  • What are residencies looking for in a PM&R applicant?
PM&R residencies look for all the usual strengths in an applicant like good board scores and academic performance, good clinical performance on your clerkships, research exposure, etc. In my experience, PM&R residencies also tend to appreciate individuals with additional interests like sports and music. There are many in PM&R who followed non-traditional paths to medicine and may have had other careers first. Personality is also very important, as it takes pretty caring and compassionate people to be providers for individuals with disabilities as well as an ability to work with a multi-disciplinary team. In addition to a student's application, their interview day with a residency program will be very important

 

  • What should students look for in a PM&R residency?

If you are pursuing PM&R but not yet sure whether you want to do a fellowship, look for a well-rounded PM&R program with opportunities for exposure to the subspecialties. I looked for a program with a good balance of inpatient and outpatient clinical duties and wanted exposure to all the major areas: Sports/MSK, stroke, TBI (traumatic brain injury), SCI (spinal cord injury), amputation and pediatric rehab. I also looked for programs that had an ultrasound curriculum, as well as plenty of exposure to procedures including electrodiagnosis (EMG), botox, interventional spine and baclofen pumps. Beyond curriculum, the deciding factor in residency programs for me was finding a good “fit.” I paid close attention to interactions with residents, students, fellows and faculty on interview days to try and get a feel for whether this was a place I would like to train or not. 

 

  • Do you have any advice on the application, letters of recommendation, personal statements, or how to rank programs?

Like any other specialty, having a well-rounded application is important. Although board scores are important and used as a screening tool, residencies want to see much more than that. Do at least one rotation in PM&R, even if you have to arrange an away rotation. Also try and have at least one Letter of Recommendation from someone in PM&R. I looked for well-rounded programs to rank, but ultimately my rank list came down to finding a good fit on my interview day. Pick a program where you can see yourself being both well trained and happy for 4 years

 

  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

Although I did a lot of practice interview questions before my interviews, one question I didn’t have a great answer for was “So what is a Physiatrist?” I struggled with this question because the scope of our field is pretty broad, but having a decent answer will help guide your personal statement and save you the embarrassment if asked on the interview trail

 
  • What other advice do you have for students applying for PM&R residency?  

People like to say “plenty of money and relaxation,” and although the lifestyle is good there are long days and hard days. We take care of very sick patients, many of which have experienced something catastrophic, and as their physiatrist we can be their greatest advocate or on some days just their cheerleader. In PM&R, you have to be willing to wear many different hats. Also, make sure you write “PM&R” NOT “PMNR,” and know how to pronounce “Physiatrist.”  

 

Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the MatchThe Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


 

Spotlight Interview: Why Did You Choose Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)?

 
EMG2

 

 

A Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation PM&R) Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with a PM&R resident from Ohio.. 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • What attracted you to physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R)?

I initially explored PM&R because I always had an interest in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, and I knew that physiatrists took care of patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other disorders of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. During my first rotation in PM&R was when I learned that physiatrists primary focus in helping their patients is by improving function. This focus on function is ultimately what attracted me to PM&R, because enabling patients with different abilities to function can substantially affect quality of life. Another aspect of PM&R that attracted me to the specialty was working with a multidisciplinary team to provide care. 

 

  • Describe a physiatrist's typical work day?

The workday of a typical physiatrist is quite regular, usually from about 8am to 5pm, but this can vary somewhat depending on your type of practice. There are many physiatrists who only do outpatient clinic, while others do both inpatient and outpatient. 

 

  • What type of lifestyle can a physiatrist expect?  

Lifestyle of a physiatrist can be somewhat variable depending on practice setup and location, but overall is considered to be well balanced relative to other specialties in medicine. We also have a high job satisfaction. PM&R is a very family friendly field, with plenty of free time and family time. Most physiatrists do not work nights, but there is some call coverage for those with inpatient duties. On average, call is usually about one week and one weekend per month, but can be less frequent depending on size of the department. Primary (first) call at large hospitals is most often covered by residents and fellows, and the attending is only called when needed. Call does usually include rounding on the weekend, which is usually brief.

 

  • What is the potential salary of a physiatrist?

The average salary of a physiatrist is around $180,000-190,000. 

 

  • What is the job market like for PM&R?

The job market for physiatrists is excellent both immediately following completion of residency as well as after advanced fellowship training

 

  • What can you tell us about PM&R subspecialties?

Another advantage to training in PM&R is that there are many options for subspecialty training. PM&R residents can pursue fellowship in many areas including the following: Interventional Pain/Spine, Sports Medicine, Cancer Rehabilitation, Stroke Rehabilitation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, Neuromuscular Medicine/EMG, Informatics and Research. Most of the clinical fellowships are 1 year of additional training, and Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine can be 1 year for those who completed a combined residency and 2 years for those who completed a general PM&R residency 

 

  • What are the potential downsides of PM&R that students should be aware of?

Although I did not consider salary when making my career decisions, it is an important consideration for students to think about as many of us have student loan debt and families to provide for. One potential downside of PM&R that students should be aware of is reimbursement changes for procedures, particularly electrodiagnostic testing. The salary I mentioned earlier is at or just below the average for all physicians.

 

  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering PM&R?

I highly recommend considering a career in PM&R. It is a fairly small field of medicine but it is growing and evolving, with so many exciting possibilities particularly with advances in technology. Being a physiatrist is incredibly rewarding. It is difficult to describe what it feels like when you see someone who had a stroke, spinal cord injury, or amputation walk again, but it’s pretty awesome to be a part of the team making that happen 

 

Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.

 

Spotlight Interview: How to match in neurosurgery

Recklinghausen neurosurgery

 

A Neurosurgery Resident’s Perspective:  From an interview with a neurosurgery resident from a top program in the Midwest.

 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • How competitive is the neurosurgery match?

Neurosurgery is among the very competitive specialties. Still though, I think that 80% of U.S. grads match somewhere.

 

 

  •  What must a student do to match well in neurosurgery?

All students should rotate at their home institution as well as at least one away rotation (almost everyone in my medical school class did at least two away rotations).  Boards are important.  Research and publications are very well looked on, as is performance on the sub-internship.  Being a good sub-intern is not about how much you know, but rather how hard you work, how willing you are to be at the hospital constantly, and how easy to get along with you are.

 

  • What are residencies looking for in a neurosurgery applicant?
The answers are the same as what I mentioned earlier. As a resident, I want someone who’s going to work their tail off on service and not let down the rest of the team.  

 

  • What should students look for in a neurosurgery residency?

Make sure the fit of your personality matches the department.  Seven years is a long time to be miserable if you don’t like the people, no matter how prestigious the place. 

 

  • Do you have any advice on the application, letters of recommendation, personal statements, or how to rank programs?

Letters of recommendation should be from neurosurgeons (it’s a very small world), or research mentors. Perhaps other types of surgeons can write your letter of recommendation if you’ve worked with them a lot.   Other letters really won’t count for anything.  You should get one from the chair at the places where you rotate.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t really work with them at all; they will solicit feedback from the residents and staff you did work with and their letter serves as a summary of your time there.  

 

  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

It’s well worth it to interview at a lot of places and get a “tour” of neurosurgery.  It really is a small world and you’ll run into people over and over.  

 
  • What other advice do you have for students applying for neurosurgery residency?  

It’s an awesome privilege to be able to do this stuff. Good luck!  

 

Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the MatchThe Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


 

Spotlight Interview: Why did you choose neurosurgery?

vintage neurosurgery
 

A Neurosurgery Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with a neurosurgical resident from a top program in the Midwest. 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • What attracted you to neurosurgery?

I knew pretty early on that I enjoyed surgery.  I liked surgery rotations, liked the satisfaction of work that was both mental and physical, liked that there is a lot of instant gratification in surgery, being able to (sometimes) fix something in a very immediate way.  Within surgery I think I could have liked a lot of rotations, but I ultimately gravitated to neurosurgery because I liked seeing people who came in pretty dramatically ill, and sometimes we were able to help, or at least mitigate the badness.  I liked the intensity of it, as well as the variety; there’s everything from tedious microsurgery for brain aneurysms to giant spine cases where you’re using big power tools.  The common denominator is that most of it is pretty high stakes.  

 

  • Describe a neurosurgeon's typical work day?

In general, days start early and end late.  As a resident I usually get in around 5:30, and the day ends when the cases are over and evening rounds are done.  Sometimes I’m out by 6, but more often substantially later.

 

  • What type of lifestyle can a neurosurgeon expect?  

Many neurosurgical problems (trauma, ruptured aneurysms, cranial or spine infections) need to be dealt with right away, whether it’s the middle of the night or the weekend.  There are some neurosurgeons that have more regular schedules than others, but most have a substantial amount of call.

 

  • What is the potential salary of a neurosurgeon?

I honestly don’t know exact numbers, but I do know it is generally high, even for surgical specialties.  I think that shouldn’t factor too much into your decision to go into it though- It’s nice to know you’re going to be well compensated, but I’ve got to think a lot of the long, off-hour, painful cases would be utter misery if your only motivation is that it pays a lot.   

 

  • What is the job market like for neurosurgery?

I don’t know- I’ll tell you when I’m closer to completing residency!  One thing to be aware of is that in general, private practice docs do more spine surgery, and more of the cranial work is done at Academic Institutions. 

 

  • What can you tell us about neurosurgery subspecialties?

Subspecialty training after residency can be in pediatrics (1 year fellowship), endovascular or open vascular (1-2 year fellowship), spine (1 year), tumor (1 year), functional (1 year), peripheral nerve (1 year).  

 

  • What are the potential downsides of neurosurgery that students should be aware of?

A large part of neurosurgery can be trying to help people with chronic pain, and they can be a challenging population.  Neurosurgeons suffer from some of the highest malpractice rates in the country.  There is much discussion in neurosurgical circles about the decreasing reimbursement for our procedures.  Much of patient volume in private practice is spine.  

 

  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering neurosurgery?

A lot of people say “only do neurosurgery if you couldn’t do anything else.”  I’m not that dogmatic, but you need to realize it’s a pretty heavy lifestyle commitment  

 

Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.

 

Spotlight Interview: Why Did You Choose ENT?

Neck Dissection
 

An Otolaryngology (ENT) Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with an ENT resident at from the Midwest.

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • What attracted you to ENT?

I was attracted to surgery initially.  After shadowing in ENT I realize that I really enjoyed the anatomy, I enjoyed the personalities that I encountered in the specialty and I thought that the idea of treating deafness with cochlear implants and the idea of helping kids with cleft lip really exciting.

 

  • Describe a otolaryngologist’s typical work day?

Work is usually in the office or in the operating room.  Some ENTs split their day between both, but most have "clinic days" and "OR days".  A resident will round in the morning (early like surgery) and either go to the assigned OR or go to the assigned clinic.  Rarely do residents have days to just do floor work after internship.  After the day's work is done residents will finish any consults from the day, round on the patients in the evening and sign out to the covering resident.  

Attendings will typically come in to start their OR or clinic in the morning, check on their patients during the day, and head home when the work is done.

 

  • What type of lifestyle can a otolaryngologist expect?  

ENT lifestyle is good.  Most ENTs have predictable hours and flexibility to arrange their schedule to avoid working late into the night.  In private practice, ENTs finish by 5 o'clock and their family can count on them to be home.  In academic practice, there can be more evening meetings or emergent consults; and family flexibility is important.  Many ENTs are in academic medicine or practice in private groups and divide call across the group. 

 

  • What is the potential salary of a otolaryngologist?

$200-300k for someone starting academic job, 400-600k+ for private (Midwest estimates)

 

  • What is the job market like for otolaryngology?

There seems to be a shortage of ENTs currently and private groups are recruiting heavily across the country.  Academic jobs are available, but may require flexibility on location to get exactly what you are looking for.  Fellowships are generally available, although trends seem to ebb and flow & are unpredictable.  (i.e. recently facial plastics fellowships were very popular: twice as many applicants as positions, but not the case this year (2015))

  • What can you tell us about otolaryngology subspecialties?

Options for otolaryngologists include General ENT, Head and Neck Oncology, Facial Plastics and Reconstructive surgery, Advanced Pediatric Otolaryngology, Laryngology, Rhinology/Allergy, Otology/Neurotology, Skull Base, Surgery, Sleep Medicine.  All differences in salary are mainly determined by private vs. academic setting.

+General ENT- no extra training, most are in private practice with great salary and wide open job market

+Head and Neck oncology- 1-2 year fellowship required, almost all are associated with academic department, most likely type of ENT to have long hours- because surgeries are complex and urgent due to cancer treatment.  Airway and bleeding emergencies happen in the patient population, so call can include overnight emergencies requiring surgery.

+Facial plastics and reconstructive surgery: 1-year fellowship, there is variability within this subspecialty from purely cosmetic facial plastic practice to free flap reconstruction after major cancer surgery.  The lifestyle of the cosmetic surgeon in private practice can be as glamorous as it sounds.  The free flap surgeon lifestyle resembles the head and neck-oncologist.

+Advanced pediatric otolaryngology- 1-2 year fellowship, generally associated with tertiary referral hospital and/or academic center.  Lifestyle is a bit busier because they are more likely to have ICU patients than General ENT counterparts.  Kids are frequently getting things stuck in their trachea at night so call often involves surgery.  

+Laryngology- 1 year fellowship: voice surgery, again typically associated with academic center/tertiary hospital.  Some of these ENTs treat professional vocalists and their practice may resemble the cosmetic (posh) clinic.  Most laryngologists have consistent hours but airway emergencies can be quite stressful.  

+Rhinology/Allergy- 1 year fellowship. Generally specialize in sinus surgery and there is a trend to managing allergy.  May be in private or academic setting.  Lifestyle is good because emergencies are rare- consults can generally wait until office hours.  Somehow billing has been very favorable for rhinology and they are in demand because their practice is lucrative.  

+Otology/Neurotology- 2 year fellowship. Focus on treating ear disease and ear surgery including operations on the internal auditory canal (between the brainstem and the inner ear.)  They are associated with tertiary referral centers/academic centers and have a good lifestyle- consults can generally wait for business hours.  

 

  • What are the potential downsides of otolaryngology that students should be aware of?

The residency is a surgical residency and that comes with the long hours, pimping, and no service cap.  ENT does not have strong history of research and there are many aspects of treatment which are based on expert opinion as the best evidence.  If you want evidence like cardiology has- it just isn't there yet.  You will encounter snot, ear wax, tracheostomy secretions, pus from neck infections.  If this is unacceptable- stay away.  

 

  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering otolaryngology?

Many ENT's enjoy all of the gizmos.  Our academic meetings feature many companies coming up with gadgets, scopes and tools for work in the ear/nose/throat.  Robotic surgeries are becoming common in ENT practice.  Minimally invasive surgery is progressing rapidly.  Some of the first applications of 3D printing in medicine have occurred in ENT.  If  you love innovation, look into this specialty.  We have been curing deafness with cochlear implants for decades.  There are many more examples.

There is a big variety within the field and you can perform simple procedures like ear tubes or tonsillectomies- all the way to reconstructing a baby's trachea or removing the voicebox for cancer treatment.  We frequently work alongside other specialities; neurosurgery has overlaps, endocrine surgery with the thyroid and parathyroid glands, oral surgery, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, cardiothoracic surgery etc.   

Another strength of the specialty, in my opinion, is that there is no direct medical counterpart (for example neurosurgery and neurology).  Which means that we treat head and neck diseases and we decide when to treat medically and when to treat surgically.  

 

Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.

 

Spotlight Interview: How to Match in ENT

Ear Exam

 

An Otolaryngology Resident’s Perspective:  From an interview with an ENT resident from the Midwest

 

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.

 

  • How competitive is the Otolaryngology match?

The match is very competitive, recently it has been otolaryngology matched applicants with the highest average Step 1 score.   

 

  •  What must a student do to match well in Otolaryngology ?

Generally applicants need to have good test scores, and strong research and extracurricular features in their CV to be ensured an interview.  However, the programs are small- and personality conflicts are hard to avoid, so the interview becomes crucial to actually matching.  Programs have many qualified applicants and interviews are important for finding people who will be a good fit.  Also, the field is small, a well-connected chairman seems to know all the ENT's in the country, so your letters of recommendation (specifically who wrote them) is vitally important to where you match.  

 

  • What are residencies looking for in a Otolaryngology applicant?
Residencies are looking for someone who they get along with, someone they can trust to tell them the truth when staffing a consult in the middle of the night (not just what they want to hear).  Big academic centers are looking for hard-working and successful researchers with a record of being able to get a project to publication as a student.  Of course, any concerns that the resident will have professionalism or personal coping issues during training will flag them to fall way down the rank list.  (Programs are generally 2-3 people per year/ 5 year program, losing one resident means losing 10% of the residency).

 

  • What should students look for in a Otolaryngology residency?

Students should pay attention to what graduates  have been doing.  If everyone is going into fellowship and becoming chairman somewhere- you can be sure that there is some unstated expectation that matched applicants will continue that trend.  On the flip-side, if everybody goes into general practice and you want an academic job, there may not be mentors or support for you to get there.  Think honestly about what you ultimately desire- then come up with a politically correct way to convey those career goals to discuss in interviews.  

Another thing to look for is representation of all the subspecialties.  It can be hard for academic programs to retain facial plastic surgeons. If you hope to treat cleft lips, make sure there is someone to learn it from.  

Observe the general happiness of the residents.  If you match, you will join that small cohort of people and spend more time with them than your spouse.  Watch for anything that might be intolerable.

 

  • Do you have any advice on the application, letters of recommendation, personal statements, or how to rank programs?

It is a competitive match so seek a mentor who is well-connected in the field.  They will help you with curating experiences to put on your CV and where to get letters of recommendation.  This may mean looking outside your institution.  Successful research is sought and will be discussed at all interviews.   Letters of recommendation are almost all positive, so it becomes important WHO wrote the letter.  If you have your heart set on a specific program, make sure your letter writers know the chair/program director.  Be proactive without being annoying in the process.  One of my co-residents was not offered an interview here, but she called and politely discussed her situation with the coordinator and program director.  She got an interview and ended up matching.  The corollary is that if you are rude to the secratary managing interviews, they can mention it to the committee and get you off the rank list.  Be professional!  Rank lists are deeply personal and involve many factors- but basically rank where you WANT to go. 

 

  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

I wish I knew how small the field is.  Fortunately my letter writers were well known- to my benefit.  In a competitive specialty like this one, small things matter- if you are professional and hard-working it will show. 

 

Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the MatchThe Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


 

Top Ten Books for Intern year

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3.

Many residents will say that there is no time for reading during your internship, but I disagree. You will work very hard, but there are still three types of books that you will need to have access to: 1) great reference material while you are working, 2) more in-depth reference material when you are home so you can read about your difficult patients, 3) "other" books that are either not related to work at all or only loosely related to work.  Below is my list of the Top Ten Books for newly minted interns. Good Luck!

  • Updated May 2015

1. House of God:

I debated for a long time where to put this book on the list, or if it should even be on the list at all. As I shuffled the books in my list, this one kept coming to the top. The truth is, every intern and resident, no matter your specialty, should read this book. Whenever I ask older docs what books new residents should read, this is the first book they mention. It is a classic, quintessential diary of one man's internship in Boston. I don't want to build it up too much, but trust me, you NEED to read this book.

2. Pocket Medicine:

In the category of "pocket reference materials to use at work" nothing is better than Pocket Medicine. The product is unmatched in my opinion. The book addresses common diseases we will all encounter and takes the reader on a step-by-step course from diagnosis to long-term management. There is no better use of your white coat pocket.

3. On Call Principles and Protocols:

While I feel strongly that Pocket Medicine is the best product on the market, On Call Principles does come in second. Some argue that the format is more inviting and the design more elegant, which is true. If this is important to you, On Call Principles is your book. If the content is more important, you will probably like Pocket Medicine better.

4. First Aid for the USMLE Step 3:

It is never too early to start studying for Step 3. Many of you will put off this exam until late in your residencies, something I do not understand. If you take the exam during your internship the material from medical school will be more fresh in your mind, and you will not have the exam hanging over your head throughout residency. If you did well on the previous Steps, a quick breeze through First Aid will get you up to speed. Don't spend too much time studying for this one.
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5. The Washington Manual Internship Survival Guide :

This unique book is a change of pace from most pocket reference manuals. It focuses a bit more on procedures and general resident life, but is also a great medical reference.

6. Tarascon Pharmacopedia:

As I have said in other posts, a great pharm book is a huge asset in residency. We all have phones and apps, but if you have an easy-to-use pharmacology reference like Tarascon, you will find that it is much faster and more efficient because you will know exactly where things are. This is a GREAT book.

7. The Sanford Guide to Antibiotic Therapy:

I found myself borrowing other students' and residents' Sanford Guide so long that I final got my own. You will never remember all of the bugs and drugs material, and there will always be patients with obscure infectious diseases. This is a great book to keep in your white coat or in your call bag, you will use it weekly no matter your specialty.

8. The Little ICU Book:

You don't need an ICU manual, but your life will be much more simple with one. Whether you spent time in the ICU as a student or not, your experience as a resident is different. There are so many things that you need to be able to juggle, it is often overwhelming. A great reference book in your workroom will become your best friend. I prefer the Little ICU book, but many residents also like the  Marino's ICU Book which is also very good.

9. Harrisons:

In the category of "reference material for home use" I put Harrison's first. Most students and residents are familiar with this famous text. It is thorough, up-to-date, and and not too dense. You will always have difficult patients on your service. You will be thinking about them as you go to bed and as you wake up, you need a great and complete reference at your home to read about them.

10. A Crock Pot Recipe Book:

No, I am not joking! You aren't going to have time to cook, but you have to find a way to eat healthy. Even if your hospital provides food money, you can not eat every meal at the hospital, you will go insane. Buy a $50 Crock-Pot, learn a few easy recipes, throw the food in at 6:00 am and have a great meal when you get home.

 
 
 

A Map of All Medical Schools in the United States

Wondering where to apply for medical school or how many medical schools are located in your state? Check out my new map of all medical schools in the United States. As of May 2015 there are 179 total medical schools in the United States. This includes 143 allopathic (MD) and 36 osteopathic (DO) medical schools. I obtained the list and associated locations of each school from Wikipedia's current list of medical schools in the United States. Interestingly, New York is the state with the most medical schools (15), even more than both California (12) and Texas (11). Idaho is the largest state without a medical school (>1,500,000 people living in the state). Click on the icons below to see the name of each medical school.

 

John Oliver: Marketing to Doctors

A few months ago on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, he spoke about the amount of money pharmaceutical companies spend marketing to physicians. Check out the video clip, the numbers are staggering. I am certainly not an anti-pharma type of person, but this should make you think twice about the free lunches and events provided by drug companies. 

 

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