Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday.
First, an update from the last few weeks. I finished our cardiovascular module and NBME last week and now am pushing through renal. So far, we’ve had 19 learning events in 5 days, which may not seem like a whole lot, but it is a lot more than what we have been used to. My class is the first at my school with a new module-based curriculum. Instead of taking subject classes (physiology, pathology, pharmacology, etc.), we have all of those disciplines integrated into organ-based modules. So, we might have a lecture on renal histology, then one on acid-base physiology, then one on diuretics, all in the same day. While being the first class to have this new curriculum hasn’t been without its bumpy patches, overall, I really like how we are learning in a more integrated, big picture fashion.
So, since I had my cardiac NBME last week, I thought I’d talk about the resource book I use the most but especially to study for NBMEs. If a med student was only going to get one book in all 4 years of school, which I would not recommend but say they did, I believe it should be this book! (or three forms of the same book actually, but let’s not get technical)
First Aid is a med student’s survival manual. Basically, everything you will learn in the first 2 years of med school is simplified, summarized, and contained within this book. I have found it is the best way to see the “big picture” on a topic and use a foundation that I can build on with supplemental materials and notes from lecture.
There are three “forms” of First Aid. I have all three and will try to describe what I like most about each of them.
First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is the basic First Aid book that most med students have. It is a great summary resource. I like that the sections are short, but the downside is that you really have to know the information before this book makes much sense. There is very little description, mostly just the basic facts. So if you’re reading through this and come across something you don’t quite remember, you will have to look it up somewhere else to learn more. Still though, no med student should be without this book! I have the 2013 version, but will be getting the updated 2015 version to study with before Step 1 next summer. The biggest difference I’ve come across with this older version is in psychology. The 2014 version is the first to be updated with the current DSM-5 classifications for psych.
These next two books are part of the First Aid for the Basic Sciences set (although they can be purchased separately). Both of these books contain everything that can be found in the basic First Aid book, but include a lot more detail. I love using these books throughout my classes because they really help simplify and reinforce the topics I’m learning at the time. The First Aid for the Basic Sciences: General Principles book contains chapters on Anatomy and Histology, Behavioral Science, Biochemistry, Embryology, Microbiology, Immunology, General Pathology, and General Pharmacology. The First Aid for the Basic Sciences: Organ Systems book contains chapters on Cardiovascular, Endocrine, GI, Hematology/Oncology, Musculoskeletal, Neurology, Psychiatry, Renal, Reproductive, and Respiratory, while including embryology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology but specifically how these relate to the individual systems. The only negative I’ve found from these books is that the “latest” version is from 2011, so some of it is outdated, especially in psychology like I explained before.
Here is a comparison of a similar topic and how it is presented by the basic First Aid book and the more detailed Organ Systems book, just so you can better see the differences. (Clicking on the pictures will make them bigger.)
Overall, I’m glad I have all three versions of First Aid and definitely use them all the time!
Do you have a copy of First Aid? What do you like (or not like) about it? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, you might have noticed that my books are hole-punched and in binders. I will be writing another post about why I did this soon so be sure to check back.
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