Internal Medicine: What I Read During Rotations

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One of my biggest challenges when I started my clinical studies at the hospital last fall, after 3 years of “pre-med” studies, was figuring out nr. 1 what to read during my rotations, and nr. 2 how to study practially – that is, how to study as much as possible, during the little time I have left of the day when I come home from a 8-16 hour day at the hospital. I’ll write another post on the “how” some time soon, and which methods I like best, but for now I’ll be sharing the books and resources which I found most helpful during my 3-month-long internal medicine rotation.

I will split this into four chapters – my two absolute favorites, treatment manuals for the wards, the “big” textbooks and reviewing material.

Let’s dive right in, I hope this list will be useful to you!

The two books I would definitely not want be without!

1) If you only buy one book for your internal medicine rotation…

…let it be Case Files or another similarly formatted book. If you’re buying two, add The Only EKG Book You’ll Ever Need.

  •  Case Files Internal Medicine, 5th Edition

Set up in a very clinically-oriented way and in short, focused but detailed chapters, I found this to be the book I most often reached for, both to prepare for new wards and to read up on cases similar to those I was dealing with at the hospital. It definitely doesn’t have all the details a huge book like Davidson’s (see below) might have, but you won’t have time to read or memorize that much during rotations, anyway, so this book was perfect to get the important facts straight.

Each chapter starts with a case which you have to solve. Afterwards, there are few pages of discussions about the disease in question, diagnosis and treatment. The chapter then closes with a “highlights” box and a few multiple choice questions, for self-testing.

  • The Only EKG Book You’ll Ever Need, 8th Edition

You will be reading a lot of EKGs, not only when caring for patients with heart problems, but on pretty much every ward – so you better know a thing or two about how to do it. For me, reading EKGs was one of my weaker points for the better part of the rotation, until I bought this book and got the ABCs of it straight. I’m in no way an EKG genius already, but I’m definitely a world apart from being as clueless as I once was. (This book is actually so good that I am currently re-reading it!)

Not a book – but the best dang website you will encounter through your whole medschool journey! If you aren’t familiar with it already, then hop on over there and sign up. You can watch all their videos for free and they were definitely my most used resource throughout my whole internal medicine rotation!

image2 (1)2) Fast, clinical information for the wards

You will probably be asked to propose a treatment plan for your patients at some point, and so I strongly recommend buying one comprehensive “manual” of treatments for various diseases, which you can carry with you in your white coat pocket. I bought two of these kind of books, the ever popular Pocket Medicine and its Icelandic sibling, Handbók í lyflæknisfræði. To me, the latter proved more useful, probably just because it’s in my native language and it’s what the whole health care system in Iceland refers to.

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Inside Pocket Medicine
  • Pocket medicine is quite nice too, especially if it is widely used where you are studying – it’s small and densely packed with only the important stuff, leaving all fluff behind. The set-up of Pocket Medicine takes some getting used to, since it is in large part written in abbreviations, but I recommend starting to use it as soon as possible, to get acquainted with it. Once you’ve used it for some time, you’ll be looking things up in half a minute or less.


3) All the knowledge, please!

  • Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine, 22nd edition

Many people recommend getting one “big” textbook as a base for deepening your knowledge and getting the full picture of every problem. For me, this was Davidson’s. However, I have to admit that I rarely even opened it and wouldn’t have missed it much, if I hadn’t bought it. There was just too many other things to read and study, and not enough time to delve deep into every subject.

So, these are my two cents: If you get lectures or notes from your professors or university, you might want to consider saving the money a big textbook like Davidson’s will cost you.

Up to Date is a web-based “library” of articles on basically anything you could think of within the field of medicine. You need to have a subscription though, but many hospitals and universities will provide their staff and students with access – check with yours.

I downloaded the mobile app and it has come in handy countless times, especially if you are asked to figure something out stat regarding treatment, doses, etc. for your patient, and you don’t have time to go find your textbook. Definitely recommend!

Inside Step-up to Medicine


4) For reviewing purposes

  • Step-up to Medicine, 4th edition

If I had to choose one “least favorite” of the books I bought for my internal medicine rotation, it would be this one. It’s not a bad book – the format and setup just didn’t suit me and my learning style.

I originally bought it to use as a preparation before going on new wards, but it’s set up in bullet points, with very little explanation or texts around the main points. This makes it difficult to use when studying subjects which you have little or no knowledge about beforehand, but excellent to use as reviewing material for subjects you have already studied well.

And that’s a wrap! Hope this was useful!

Have you read any of these? Did I forget your all-time favorite textbook? Please share with us in the comments 🙂


Lady Reykjavik



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