Top positive review
Does exactly what it's supposed to
on February 7, 2013
Pocket Medicine is a quick, light-weight guide that you can easily find when digging around in the pocket of your white coat. The distinctive feel of the cover's edges - which feel similar to those of the old plastic trapper keepers from grade school - allows you to distinguish it from whatever else you may have stuffed in there as you make your way through the hospital. As a medical student - and, I imagine as a resident - this book can potentially save you from a lot of mistakes and/or embarrassment. That being said, it isn't perfect, and it's not something that's automatically going to make you better at diagnosis or patient care. The best way to use this book is to see things coming down the line, anticipate questions that might arise, and then read up. (Granted, that's a skill, and as any medical student can tell you, it can be almost impossible to anticipate some attendings. There will always be those cases; that's part of the process.)
Generally speaking, I was able to find the answer to most any question regarding diagnosis and treatment, and it was rare that my attendings would ask/lecture about something that wasn't at least covered.
- Size: It's really small, and just about the perfect size for a white coat. (Hauling textbooks around a hospital is the worst, because it a) begins to warp your spine until you look and feel like someone who once angered a voodoo priestess, b) you never have time to find what you need in that sea of text anyway, and c) it marks you even more clearly as a younger doctor who is mostly getting by on luck, good recall, and the kindness of nurses.)
- Covering the common stuff: one of the few truisms of medicine is that common things are common - and this book does a great job of covering the common stuff in detail. Referring to this book made me very comfortable that I was conforming to best standards of practice. And on a few occasions, it definitely helped me impress my residents and attendings as being very thorough - maybe even overly so. When you're starting out in medicine, this makes you appear kind of adorable (which I wasn't sure how I felt about) and attentive to detail (which is a really good quality for practitioners to have).
- Diagnostic criteria: The diseases don't read the books, and so of course, not all of these will apply. But overall, I found this book to be helpful in aiding diagnosis. Specifically, it would help me to limit my differential. Also - and I don't know if this was intended by the authors, or more just a side effect of the book's content and structure - I found myself weeding out more of the 'zebra' diagnoses. New doctors are especially prone to that sort of thing, and I felt like this book helped me to stay a little more grounded.
- Size: The text is proportional to the rest of the book - which is to say that it's really tiny, and parsing through all of those lines can get old pretty fast. It's much easier if you know the location of the info you want on the page... which, sadly, only comes from having hunted for it a few times. We read small text on our phones and so forth all the time, but when it's late into your call night, small text seems like an added cruelty.
- You actually do have to read it: this isn't a con, so much as a caveat which probably applies to all medical books. A lot of health professional students spend a lot of money on books and resources that eventually just get skimmed. You do have to read this book - at least the parts relevant to your rotation - for it to be useful. Speaking as someone who's done the same thing, we all need to remember that all of these resources aren't talismans. We have to do the mental leg work. And unfortunately, this isn't the most captivating of reads; be ready for a lot of dry, incomplete sentences, and loads of tables. The occasional graph seems downright opulent, after a little while.
Hope this review helped! (And good luck to my fellow students. We're getting there, I promise.)