Essential medical textbooks?
August 6, 2009 8:02 AM   Subscribe

It's my nephew's birthday this weekend. He is going to University in September to study Medicine (in the UK). Are there any essential medical text books I could get him to help with his studies?
posted by kenchie to Education (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Warning to 80% of AskMe folks: Med school in the UK is very very different than in the USA.

That said, for Kenchie, here's some Year Later Hindsight / Advice from a student who recently completed first year (UK) med studies.

Note especially item (4) on his list:
Don't rush into buying books. Wait till you get to medical school. Some people may want to buy you textbooks, but a lot of the time a.) your medical school won't use them or b.) they will be so infrequently used it is just a waste of good money.
There are also a lot of good ideas there.
posted by rokusan at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kenchie, he should have a reading list already. If he doesn't, he needs to speak to his university soon because they should have sent him one and may be expecting him to have read up on his subject before arrival.

Oxford has a good list of books for applicants for its degree in medicine, but they aren't the essential texts.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2009

It sounds like a stethoscope would be a good gift
posted by A189Nut at 8:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are some suggestions from outside the curriculum, most schools have their favourite texts so I am reluctant to suggest anything from the curriculum:

1. Follies and Fallacies in Medicine (helped me in learning the 'real world' of medicine)

2. Doctor in the House Series: (An example of very typical English medical humour) Also available in VHS and DVD

3. Netters Atlas'
(These were not recommended texts but I loved learning from these. They used to be published as Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations.

If your intention is to 'help' then I would go for 3. If it is to educate and entertain then I would pick 1 or 2.

Hope this helps
posted by london302 at 8:13 AM on August 6, 2009

Kenchie, he should have a reading list already. If he doesn't, he needs to speak to his university soon because they should have sent him one and may be expecting him to have read up on his subject before arrival.

Just as a counterpoint (so you don't panic your nephew) we didn't get our reading lists until the first day of term (and some quick googling suggests this isn't uncommon even for medicine students)
posted by missmagenta at 9:10 AM on August 6, 2009

It's going to vary from uni to uni. From my peers who have friends at other unis, also doing medicine and their lists of recommended books are very different to ours. I couldn't pick one book that I particularly liked or found useful out of all the ones I've used; it all depends on strengths and weaknesses, learning styles and the like.

Taking london302's approach of more general books, Atul Gawande's books are good, as is Ben Goldacre's Bad Science. But he's not going to have time to read them anyway.

If you really want to help him with his studies a large amount of Red Bull and/or Pro Plus would be what I'd suggest. And hangover cures if he drinks, and possibly some chewable vitamin C for when the workload and trying to keep up with insane medical social life means that he hasn't eaten a proper meal in three months.
posted by Coobeastie at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kenchie, he should have a reading list already. If he doesn't, he needs to speak to his university soon because they should have sent him one and may be expecting him to have read up on his subject before arrival.

Oh god no! Don't start him reading yet! Medicine's a huge, huge subject, and starting to read textbooks before you have learning objectives to guide you as to what you actually need to know is a passport to a nervous breakdown before term starts.
posted by Coobeastie at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2009

If he doesn't have a copy of Gray's Anatomy yet, buy him that old classic.
posted by kldickson at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Almost everyone qualifies but if the aim is to be a finer medical man you need to read around the subject.......I second Coobeasties choice of books to that end.
posted by london302 at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2009

Oh god no! Don't start him reading yet!

My apologies if it seems like I'm inciting panic. At my old uni, you got the reading list in advance and you were expected to have read some of it. But then, we got our assignments on day 3 of turning up - actually before the official start of term.

My point being - it doesn't do harm to check.

The other point that's worth making again and which others have made is that lots of set texts are fiercely expensive and may not be necessary. If possible, and if they're not out of date, it is always worth buying them second hand.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2009

2nding a beautiful edition of Gray's. I've seen gorgeous folio sized editions that just cry out for this sort of use.
posted by Jilder at 11:16 AM on August 6, 2009

Just tossing this out there, but would you like to get a text book for your birthday?

I have an Aunt who is a teacher and EVERY birthday she got me teacher stuff for me to use in my class; records (yeah, I'm that old), stickers, rubber stamps, etc. They were lovely gifts, but they didn't seem like a "birthday" fun kind of gift. To me they're "work supplies".

Maybe consider getting him a gift card for his University's book store. He can buy a lot more there than books and the decision will be up to him whether to buy a University hoodie or a text book.
posted by NoraCharles at 12:49 PM on August 6, 2009

I agree that a copy of Gray's Anatomy is a good idea.
But buy the Student edition. There are also reprints of the first edition (cheap, but harder to study from), and the main textbook (more than >£100, overkill). For a student, the student edition is best. IIRC, it has an orangey-hologaphic cover.

Otherwise, I would probably recommend scrapping the idea of buying him a textbook, and instead giving him some book tokens to spend on whichever textbook he thinks will be most useful once he's started the course.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2009

I agree that a copy of Gray's Anatomy is a good idea.

With the caveat that according to my cousin (a medical student), it is no longer felt necessary to learn the names of every minute part of the body in the way my mother had to do in the late fifties when she was a medical student. I remember poring over my mother's anatomy textbooks and marvelling that she had to learn so much, but apparently these days it's more important for medical students to learn some of the biochemistry which was in its infancy back then and similar new developments, and not to bother with the latin name for a particular sulcus. That's not to say that Gray's Anatomy won't be useful and interesting, of course.
posted by nja at 2:42 PM on August 6, 2009

I would suggest you get him a small 'now' present and a gift voucher for his university book shop. That way he can use it to get his required texts if he wants (they're expensive!) or he can use it for one of the more interesting books they have there. (Check first that his uni bookshop is any good, and if not just get him a voucher to a really good book store that he can use for the same stuff).
posted by jacalata at 4:38 PM on August 6, 2009

on preview, I agree with NoraCharles and James
posted by jacalata at 4:39 PM on August 6, 2009

Gray's Anatomy I think is really more important for the illustrations. Especially when you don't immediately have a cadaver on hand.

I'm not a med student; I'm an undergrad and pre-PhD. I had the opportunity to (illicitly) look at cadavers at the cadaver lab in our campus's medical sciences building (wherein is contained the facilities of my department), and the first time I got to handle an actual un-plasticized brain, look at half of a head that had previously belonged to a human being that wanted all of us to look at its innards after it was used, it was AWESOME.

We all treated the cadavers with respect and frankly, I'd look at those cadavers again. There is nothing like looking at an actual human brain - the organ that has built civilizations - and looking in wonder at every fold of the cerebrum, the nubby pons, a bisected brain's callosum, a medulla - that is an experience every student of the biomedical sciences should have.

Gray's Anatomy is the next best reference.
posted by kldickson at 7:21 PM on August 6, 2009

Neuroanatomy through clinical cases

This is an outstanding book. Ive often seen it recommended as an addition to whatever textbook is used at med school, and as a good book to prepare for the licensing exams as well. It's also not terribly expensive either.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 8:24 PM on August 6, 2009

Gray's Anatomy: firstly, get the most up-to date edition. There's been a lot of change in naming relatively recently (moving away from naming parts of the body after the person who discovered them, and towards functional naming: so the "Pouch of Douglas" is now more normally the "rectouterine pouch"), so an old or antique edition may be downright confusing.

Secondly, Gray's may be the most famous, but it's not all that. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's nothing special in the world of anatomy atlases. I use Grant's more often than anything else, and some people I know really prefer McMinn's because it's based on photographs of dissections rather than pictures.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:14 AM on August 7, 2009

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