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.

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.


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