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The Five Best Internal Medicine Books for Medical Students

Medical school is very challenging with a vast of knowledge to be learned in a relatively limited amount of time. In addition, there are several examinations that have to be overcome with each progressive year. Therefore, having the best set of textbooks at your disposal can give you a significant edge in effective studying as well as being ready for every examination that will come your way.

With the advances in technology, a majority of these books are also available as e-books in addition to their traditional printed versions. They also include several online resources that can be accessed to enhance learning.

This list compiles some of the best books out there for medical students who want to be on top of their bibliophile game. It is by no means an exhaustive list but aims to inform on some of the best books available out there.

1.      Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine

This book has long been regarded as the gold standard for books on internal medicine having been adopted worldwide by several medical schools as the recommended book for its teaching. Currently in its 10th edition at the time of writing, this book was authored by the renowned medical educators Prof Parveen Kumar and Dr Michael Clark.

This book presents numerous complicated topics in internal medicine in a student-friendly format having contributing authors who are young doctors at the cutting edge of clinical medicine with recent exposure to medical education as well as internationally acclaimed consultants who bring a vast wealth of knowledge in the various disciplines of medicine.

The book covers a wide range of systems of the body such as the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and gastrointestinal system as well as having chapters on ethics and infectious diseases. There are also links to various useful sites that have specific relevance to both practicing physicians and those in training.  

In addition, there is an online reference known as Student Consult that enhances the book’s online experience providing a wealth of online resources, videos, tests banks, assessment tools as well as an online community for students to interact. This feature is not unique to Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine, but is found throughout the Elsevier publishers library of related medical textbooks allowing for a homogeneous online experience regardless of the textbook used.

It has long been a favourite for the astute student and the medical professional at al levels of education and will continue to be the book of choice for newcomers and veterans in internal medicine alike.

2.      Hutchison’s Clinical Methods

Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine is primarily focused on elucidating the various clinical techniques employed by clinicians to diagnose disease complementing the data rich chapters of Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine allowing for the bridging of theoretical knowledge with practical skills.

This book presents each chapter in 4 easy to read sections with relevant topics being covered in each. These are section 1: general patient assessment, section 2: assessment in particular patient groups such as women, paediatric and geriatric patients, section 3: basic systems covering the main systems of  respiratory system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, locomotor system and nervous system and section 4: clinical specialties such as skin, nails, and hair, endocrine disorders, diabetic and other, metabolic disorders, kidneys and urinary tract, eyes, ear, nose, and throat and sexually transmitted infections formerly referred to as venereal diseases.

The book is an excellent addition to any library with added significance for preparation for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), a practical assessment of clinical skills. The book also gives you access to the Student Consult online experienced to enhance ones online experience.

This book will also help perfect your craft as a clinician, enabling for appropriate ordering of investigations and timely diagnosis of diseases.

3.      Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine

This textbook is based on the writings of the great British physician Sir Leybourne Stanley Patrick Davidson first published in 1952. The book presents well written chapters on a variety of systems, infectious and non-infectious diseases, ethics as well as clinical biochemistry with a special emphasis on the rich graphic content. It is definitely a favourite of students and practicing health care workers alike for its simplistic graphical format and concise information boxes that make for an easy read despite its 1400 plus page size.

Student Consult access also comes with the book.

4.      Macleod’s Clinical Examination

This is considered a companion book to the larger Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine with a similar style in terms of presentation of the topics covered. It is a book that is specifically for improving clinical craft in history taking and examination utilising the same aesthetic as Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine.

The book is divided into four main sections that include principles of clinical history and examination, system-based examination, applying history and examination skills in specific situations and putting history and examination skills to use.  There are also links to clinical skills videos that can be used to hone one’s skills. The text is concise and key points are clearly indicated in specific text boxes and the high-quality images make the book a pleasant read.

The Student Consult platform is also provided with the purchase of this book.

5.      Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine is one of the most well-known and highly regarded internal medicine books first published in 1950. This book is a massive collection of chapters spilt into two large volumes meant to be used as a reference book and for the studious learner who seeks to go beyond the common understanding on a particular subject.

The book has a plethora of physicians and scientists of international acclaim such as Dr Anthony S. Fauci. It is one of the most comprehensive internal medicine books available on the market with a corresponding high price point that may limit its widespread availability especially amongst medical students. It however is the good to book for all aspiring doctors and healthcare workers who would like a textbook that offers slightly more than the regularly available literature.

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