Textbook Review – First Aid for the Wards

I’m currently in the thick of the overwhelming rotation that is internal medicine (IM). Although the work hours are more reasonable than surgical specialties, what IM lacks in work houts it makes up in knowledge needed. It’s the equivalent of the knowledge of my the last two years, every last detail, crammed into a intense 8 week rotation. Needless to say, most of my time outside the hospital is spent reading around my cases and re-learning most of stuff I once knew. I’ll be reviewing a few of the texts I have been using starting with First Aid for the Wards by Tao Le et al

PROS: First Aid for the Wards is an easy read. It covers all the essential topics you need to know for all your core rotations in a simple fashion. From IM to pediatrics to surgery, it’ll ensure you know the bare minimum needed to survive. You can read this book cover to cover over a few days and get a good big picture of the most common cases.

The first chapter which is an introduction to the wards is a real gem. The necessary information you need to know to be a team player on the wards, write a thorough admission and progress note are all laid out and easy to understand. I highly recommend reading at least the first few chapters to familiarize yoursellf with your role as a student intern. I found it much better than Tarascon’s How to be a Truly Excellent Junior Medical Student. Both are good reads. I would recommend that you at borrow either book from the library just to learn the ins and outs of hospital work.

CONS: Don’t be fooled by the First Aid brand though, this is no First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2011 (First Aid USMLE) which many will swear by is the only book you need for doing well on Step 1. Furthermore, a lot of the topics are only covered superficially and often contains outdated information. There is no focus on evidence based medicine and the finer details that will make you stand out as an exceptional medical student are not included.

RECOMMENDATIONS: A good introductory text to topics covered in all your rotations. A quick simple read. The first chapter on Guide for Ward Success is an excellent guide on the roles of team members, expectations of students in medicine and surgery, how to admit patients and give great presentations. Definitely an excelllent introduction for people who have yet to step outside the classroom. Read this book at the end of your preclinical years. It willl be a good refresher and quick summary of key topics you should learn more about. However, it suffers because it is also just a cursory text that is lacking the depth that is needed in today’s evidence based standard of care

Please also see my Clerkship Pearls page for more resources

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