Category Archive: OB/GYN Rotation

Best Books and Resources for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Rotation


This post is part of our series on the best books and resources to help you perform well on your third year rotations and shelf exams. Also check out our lists for clerkships in Internal MedicineFamily MedicineOB/GYNGeneral SurgeryNeurologyPsychiatryPediatrics, and Emergency Medicine. You can also check out our complete list of "Best Books" lists for medical students here

Background: Clerkship Grades

At the beginning of each of these clerkship lists there are a few things I must say. First, your grade on clinical rotations will depend on both your clinical performance and your performance on a shelf exam at the end of the rotation. While it is true that how you work with your teams and patients will play into your evaluation, there is no denying that your knowledge of the subject matter is, by far, the most important part of your final grade because it directly affects both of these two areas of evaluation. As a resident, I currently find myself filling out medical student evaluations every week. There are very few 'incredible' medical students and very few 'terrible' medical students. The vast majority of you (~95%) fit into the "good and easy to work with" group; the only thing you have to set you apart from others is your knowledge base. You have no alternative but to study! First Aid for the Wards is a great resource to understand the dynamics of your clinical rotations, I highly recommend it.

Essential Resources

The resources I will describe in the clerkship lists are books and online question banks. From the onset let me point out two indespesible resources that I will not list for each rotation individually.

  • First, I consider a great online question bank essential. Both Kaplan and USMLE World are very good products. I highly recommend purchasing a one year subscription to one of these USMLE Step 2 question banks. As you complete your third year rotations, these question banks will prepare you for 1- your clinical duties, 2- your rotation shelf exam, and 3- the USMLE Step 2 during your fourth year.  
  • Second, online review materials (e.g. Medscape, UpToDate, etc.) are essential resources to prepare for your patients in the hospital. The books and question banks can never provide the type of in-depth detail about disease processes that you will need to learn how to properly take care of your specific patients. To be a great medical student, you must prepare more profoundly for the diseases you are encountering personally in the hospital.

Book Series for Third Year

Medical students are not all made the same; we are all very different learners. There are a number of companies producing review materials for third year medical students, each with a slightly different focus. Each of these companies produce a different book for each clerkship. Interestingly, some companies' books are rated higher in some clerkships than others. If you find a product that works for you, consider sticking with it during your third year even if that product is not 'rated' as highly for a specific clerkship. Below are a few of the review products and their features.

  1. The Case Files Series: A unique teaching model; the Case Files series introduces a number of important clinical cases and follows them up with clinical pearls and important concepts. For students who need vivid clinical situations to remember factoids and concepts, this is a great series. (Case Files OB/GYN)
  2. The PreTest Series: The PreTest series is a classic question bank format with questions and detailed explanations. As I previously mentioned, I believe there is no substitute for a great question bank. While an online resource (USMLE World or Kaplan) can be more robust and mobile, a good question book is still a great option. The PreTest series produces a couple fantastic question banks. (PreTest OB/GYN).
  3. The BluePrints Series: The BluePrints series has a beautiful format that is very easy to read. The text is laid out in a bulleted lists, but with more details and descriptions than the First Aid series with which most students are familiar. I think very highly of these review books. (Blueprints OB/GYN).
  4. First Aid Clerkship Series: The First Aid series well known to most students also produces review books for third year clerkships. The content is similar to what students are used to, bulleted lists of high yield information. While I highly recommend many of the First Aid review books for USMLE Step preparation, the books are not quite as widely read and recommended for clerkships. (First Aid OB/GYN).

Best Books for Obstetrics and Gynecology Rotation

So, we can agree that books are not sufficient for success on your clerkships, but they are still an incredible resource that you should tap into. Let's review the best books and resources for your OB/GYN rotation. These lists come from both my experience and also from one medical school's annual survey of its 250 graduating medical students who try to detail which resources were the most useful on their rotations.

Obstetrics and Gynecology is one of those rotations that has very little to do with other rotations. Therefore, you can not rely on your knowledge from other clerkships or the first two years of medical school to impress on rounds and do well on the shelf exam. Every student needs to spend a significant amount of time studying OB/GYN, which can be difficult as this clerkship tends to be very time consuming at most medical schools. Luckily, there is a wealth of good texts and question banks for this unique clerkship. One good text in combination with good question should be sufficient if you spend enough time studying.


1. APOG (uWISE) Question Bank:

The Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynecology (APOG) have produced a fantastic online question bank they call uWISE. If your medical school has access to the qbank you are in luck because it is a great resource. If your school does not subscribe, you sould ask them to, because the cost to you might be a bit too high to handle.


2. Blueprints OB/GYN:

As obstetrics and gynecology is nearly independent from all other specialties, it is important to read a complete text, not just rely on question banks. The Blueprints volume on OB/GYN is very highly recommended by students, and I agree. Some students recommend even more complete texts like the Hacker & Moore text I describe below, but I found Blueprints to be sufficient.

3. Case Files OB/GYN:

The CaseFiles volume on OB/GYN is also very highly recommended as it addresses unique clinical scenarios that you will not see in other parts of the hospital. However, though I really like this text, in my opinion it should not be thought of as sufficient. 


4. Hacker & Moore:

Hacker & Moore Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynecology is a complete and in-depth OB/GYN text. Normally, students would not have time or desire to read a complete text for one clerkship. However, given the unique characteristics of the OB/GYN clerkship, this text is actually a very good resources and many students at my school used it and love it (I did not, the size scared me away). 


Spotlight Interview: Why did you choose OB/GYN?


An OB/GYN Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Banner Good Samaritan, in Phoenix, Arizona.

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 OB/GYN?

I enjoyed the opportunity of working with women over the course of their lifetime health care needs.  From adolescent to geriatric patients you can develop life-long relationships with your patients and families.  Labor and Delivery is exciting and fun to be a part of.  Delivering patients was rewarding and the patients generally are very appreciative of your service. I also enjoyed working with the type of people who typically choose Ob/gyn as a career. I tried to talk myself out of it because of what others had to say, but throughout 3rd year medical school, every subsequent rotation came back to how much I enjoyed Ob/Gyn and I realized that I wouldn’t have been happier in any other specialty.


  • Describe an OB/GYN typical work day?

Usually it starts early (to the hospital before 6 most days, this will get better after residency), postoperative and postpartum rounding on patients in the hospital then usually clinic 3-4 days per week.  Most Ob/Gyn’s will have one full day of surgery per week.  Depending on the group you practice with, you’ll be on call about every 4th night for deliveries and one weekend a month.  Clinic may be interrupted by deliveries but they are usually quick.


  • What type of lifestyle can an OB/GYN expect?  

It is highly variable, if you choose to be on call for all of your patient deliveries, you can expect to be interrupted frequently as babies are born at all hours.  However most practices will share call amongst the group and with other groups.  Usually Ob/Gyn’s will be on call every 3rd-4th night and maybe one weekend a month.  That is typically home call and you come in for deliveries only. Many Ob/gyn’s are working parents and often female with a relatively normal home and family life.


  • What is the average salary of an OB/GYN?

Salary is highly variable based on call schedule and region but most will typically start in the low 200’s initially for most urban areas.  Rural regions tend to start much higher but the call schedule can be more demanding as well.  It is not unusual to increase significantly, again based on call schedule and delivery volume.


  • What is the job market like for OB/GYN?

Great! As long as people keep having babies!  There is a projected shortage in all aspects of medicine and Ob/Gyn is no different.  You can typically find a job close to any area where you may want to live.


  • What can you tell us about OB/GYN Sub-specialties?

All subspecialties are three year fellowships: Gynecologic oncology, Maternal Fetal medicine, Reproductive endocrinology and infertility and urogynecology.  Salaries and lifestyles are generally improved with all of those specialties to varying degrees and there is always a market for them.


  • What are the potential downsides of OB/GYN that students should be aware of?

Like I mentioned before, babies are born at all hours, especially at 3 o-clock in the morning.  However you can make the schedule what you want, if you join a large group you’d have to take less call but you’d likely be busier during those call nights.  Malpractice insurance and lawsuits are a well known downside to the field. As long as you understand this going into it and it is not a surprise, it will not be a problem.


  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering OB/GYN?

In the end you choose a specialty that you really enjoy. Don’t choose solely based on lifestyle or salary.  Don’t try to fool yourself either though, those things are important but if you hate your job, it makes for a miserable lifestyle.



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: Matching in OB/GYN


An OB/GYN Resident’s Perspective:  From an interview with an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

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 OB/GYN match?

The overall competitiveness of OB/GYN is about average. The average board score for Step 1 is usually in the low to mid 220s. There are many more female applicants than male applicants right now.


  •  What must a student do to match well in OB/GYN?

Audition rotations in programs you are interested in can be very helpful but you have to impress people during the rotation. It is very easy to do a rotation and just coast through it.  They are called audition rotations for a reason.  Do well on Step 1, show improvement on Step 2 if needed and get letters of recommendation from people who really know you, not just big names


  • What are residencies looking for in an OB/GYN applicant?
Programs are looking for someone who is motivated, works hard and helps those around them.  Intelligence is obviously important but strong work ethic goes much farther.


  • What should students look for in an OB/GYN residency?

Look for a program where the residents are happy.  Well trained and well taken-care-of residents are happy residents and it is obvious on interview day which residents are happy.  It is important to note not just what the residents tell you but how they say it.  Every one of them will say they are happy and pleased with the program but it is easy to see those that are truly happy.

Editor’s Note: I remember a number of resident’s giving me similar advice throughout medical school. I must admit, I was skeptical. Anyone can fake it during an interview day, right? How can I learn in residents are happy during an 8 hour interview? The reason everyone will keep telling you to pay attention to this is because it is ABSOLUTELY tangible if the residents are happy or not. If you are paying attention, there is no way they can fool you. Happy residents are excited to see each other, they speak to their attendings when they see them and have ongoing friendships with them, they have lives outside of work, they don’t have to think long about why they love their program, they are quick to explain what features of their program set it apart. You may not think this is a big deal now, but I assure you that the temperament of a residency program will make or break the next 3-7 years of your life.


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

Get letters from doctors who know you well, not just big names. As a fact, personal statements are cheesy but try to minimize cliché terms. Rank programs on gut feel taking all things into consideration.


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

I prepared well. Just read as much as you can about the match and be prepared to ask questions during your interviews.


  • What other advice do you have for students applying to OB/GYN residency?

Do what you enjoy, you’ll be training in this specialty and working in it for the next 35 years so make sure you like what you do and the type of people you’ll be working with.


Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The 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 Third Year Medical Students

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. 

Choosing a top ten list for the third year of medical school was a lesson for me in biting off more than one can chew. I will soon be compiling top ten lists for each of the core rotations in medical school, which will be a more manageable list. However, there are common themes during this very important year of training, and you will be testing the waters of many potential future specialties. I think these books will help with these endevours. 

  • Updated April 2015

1. First Aid for the Wards:

Beginning the third year of medical school is a daunting task. I shook like a little kid the first time I had to present on rounds. In retrospect, I wish I had read this book before I ever started third year. It provides great advice about prerounding, rounding, presenting patients, and working with your clinical team. It also gives rotation specific advice for each of the main third year clinical clerkships.

2. Pocket Medicine:

I consider pocket medicine a must-have for all students and residents. I used it during medical school and am still using it in residency. It highlights all the most common clinical illnesses and presentations. For each illness it describes the clinical presentation, signs and symptoms, diagnostic tools, and treatment plan.

3. Maxwell Quick Medical Reference:

A small book with a big role. Nearly every medical student I know carries this book in their white coat. It contains clinical pearls and references that are very high yield. Additionally, it contains sample notes (progress, transfer, procedure, admission, etc).  It is about the best $10 you can spend.

4. Case Files:

The Case Files Series (Amazon link) is my favorite clerkship study series. Similar to the Pretest Series (#5) and the Blueprint Series (#6), Case Files publishes one book for each medical student clerkship. The book teaches principles through a series of 50-60 cases.  After each case is presented, the relevant clinical teaching points are discussed and followed with a series of questions. For my style of learning, this was the ultimate study tool during third year. I particularly recommend Case Files Neurology and Case Files Family Medicine. .

5. PreTest:

Another series of books for each medical student rotation, the PreTest Series (Amazon Link) are simply question banks in print form. Their questions are very good and hit on relevant material. Although I prefer USMLEworld as a straight question bank tool, the Pretest books allow you to always have questions at your side for bus rides, downtime at the hospital, etc. Along with many medical students, I particularly recommend PreTest Pediatrics, which was eerily similar to the shelf exam.


6. BluePrints:

The BluePrints Series is a third series with one book for each medical school clerkship. Unlike the case-based presentation of Case Files and the q-bank format of PreTest, the Blueprints series are more like textbooks. They aim to teach the most pertinent clinical facts without becoming too dense. Each book is about 300 pages and contains a wealth of information…if you can get through it. Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology is widely considered the most useful; I used it and did very well on the shelf.

7. Surgical Recall:

If you are interested in surgery or just interested in obtaining a good grade in your surgery rotation, you need to know what is going on in the OR. Surgical Recall provides step-by-step details of surgical procedures including surgical indications, pre-operative management, intra-operative management including a walk-through of the surgery, and post-op management. It will really help you shine in the OR.

8. First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CK:

Yes, you will probably find a 'First Aid' book in each of my Top Ten book lists. This is because I have found them to be the best tool at solidifying the most important points of each phase of medical school. During third year the First Aid for Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) was a great way to make sure I knew the most important facts. It is certainly not sufficient to study alone.

9. Dr. Pestana's Surgery Notes:

Dr. Pestana's notes are an absolutely necessary resource for students on the Surgery rotation. The notes provide real-world examples that combine pathophysiology with surgical patients. Complications, surgical decision making, and post-operative care are all addressed. I was shocked at how high yield these notes were when I took the shelf exam.

10. Step-Up to Medicine:

You will also find this book at the top of my list for the the internal medicine rotation. However, it is so good that I thought I should mention it here too. The book comes highly recommended by nearly every student that has ever used it. It will give you a great base to study from and find out what you need to study more.

Honorable Mention:
  1. I can not create a list of study tools for third year medical students without mentioning USMLEworld.  After using many Q-banks, many question books, and other resources, I have concluded that USMLEworld provides questions most consistently similar to the real shelf exams and boards as well as provided the clearest explanations.
  2. Success on the Wards: 250 Rules for Clerkship Success is a highly rated book for third year students
  3. 250 Biggest Mistakes 3rd Year Medical Students Make and How to Avoid Them is written as the same authors as "Success on the Wards" and also comes highly recommended.
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. Really, this books should be in the Top Ten.  I left it off because it is not specifically for third year medical students. However, it is one of the best resources available for deciding what is important to you in a specialty, and comparing variables across all medical specialties. I highly recommend it.

How to instrument tie: A video tutorial

In recent posts I highlighted some great training videos on suturing and on one and two handed knot tying. In this post I will recommend a video tutorial for instrument tying.  As with the other suturing and knot tying skills, it is very important that medical students learn early in their careers how to instrument tie.  This is the bread and butter of knot tying.  If you are proficient with the instrument tie you will impress residents and attendings and they will be much more willing to give you responsibilities in the OR.  The video below is a straight forward review and tutorial of the instrument tie.  As with all other knots, remember that a square knot is not complete until you have made two opposing throws; otherwise you are tying granny knots.

One and two handed surgical knot tying: A video tutorial

In two recent posts I recommended some great video tutorials for suturing and for instrument tying.  This post will focus on learning how to tie one and two handed knots in the operating room.  As with previous skills, it is very important that medical students learn to tie surgical knots early in their training.  Let me offer one experience from medical school to illustrate this fact.  This is a true story.

After finishing rounds with the residents on my OB rotation I was assigned to work in the OR with the chief of benign gynecology surgery at a community hospital.  He also happened to be the rotation coordinator and was responsible for my grade and evaluation.  The first case was an open tubal ligation. As the case was ending the attending turned to me and said, “hey, we have to close the fascia, can you tie knots?”  Luckily, I knew quite well how to tie.  I picked up the suture and threw a few two handed knots down.  My attending was seriously impressed and told everyone on the team.  He gave me a raving evaluation and spoke specifically about how I was “well prepared for the OR.” So, take it from me, learn these knots! Always remember Rule #1: tie square knots, not granny knots! Two throws are required to complete the knot. 

1. The two handed knot.  This is the knot that you will actually use in the OR. Most surgeons never tie one-handed knots and some even forbid them.  So, this should be your bread and butter. After watching a few tutorial videos I am convinced that this is the best.  It comes from the University of Texas at Houston and walks you through the basics. The audio is very good, so find some earphones. Always remember that a square not requires two throws to be completed.

2. The one handed knot: This is a more confusing knot and far less high yield because very few surgeons ever use it or expect it.  It is notoriously difficult to teach and to learn.  The best video I have found is shown below.  Unlike the previous video, there is not audio to walk you through the knot.  Rather, the knot is completed slowly and each difficult section is repeated.  Remember, you must tie two throws to make a complete square knot. This is important when tying a one handed knot because the two throws are completed using two different techniques.

Finally, there is more than one way to tie a square knot.  Here is one more video that demonstrates the two handed and one handed method clearly. Similar to the second video, there is no audio.  Go get some gloves and some suture and practice along with this video.

How to suture a wound: A video tutorial

Before you start your third year of medical school you absolutely need to know how to suture.  In this post I will provide some of the best video tutorials for suturing. (See my other posts to review one and two hand surgical knots and instrument tying.) During my general surgery rotation and OB/GYN countless attendings and residents would look at me as the case was ending and say, “hey med student, can you suture?  Will you close while I dictate?”  I was also asked to suture quite a few lacerations during my ED rotation.  Learn early and learn often.  Your school will likely have a suturing training course, but you need to keep fresh.  I recommend the two videos listed below as tutorials.  The first (not youtube, so you have to click on it) is the most professional and has some images to help understand the mechanics.

Video 1: From

Video 2:


It is also very important to know a few common pimping questions (below).  The Medscape website offers a very good and very free review of all of these questions.

  1. The indications for suturing vs. glue vs. healing by secondary intention
  2. Time to removal of stitches
  3. Types of suture, and when to use each
  4. How and when to use lidocaine and/or epinephrine prior to suturing
  5. Lethal dose of lidocaine (I have been pimped on this at least 10 times)
Let me emphasis one last time.  Learn to suture, and learn well.  During my surgery rotations I was asked on the spot to sew up a panniculectomy, countless skin grafts, and some other major wounds. The residents and attendings would have never asked for my help if I did not first impress them with my suturing ability.

Proper gowning and gloving, a training video

As I mentioned in a previous post about how important it is to know proper scrub technique, it is equally important to know how to gown and glove. Most students will receive formal training in these techniques.  However, if you are planning on being in the OR either for shadowing or elective rotations before you receive training, be sure to watch this video and the video on proper scrub technique