Book reviews: The Unofficial Guide to Medicine series

The Unofficial Guide to Radiology

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When I found out that this book had topped the Amazon.co.uk best selling book list, it came as no real surprise. The Unofficial Guide to Radiology by Mark Rodrigues and Zeshan Qureshi does exactly what it says on the tin- it provides a crisp, succinct guide with sufficient detail to understand convoluted concepts, but not too much to overwhelm, as the vast majority of guides seem to do.

Each section is devoted to an imaging modality and is colour coded so you can flip to the section you need. In fact, the entire book is colourful and reader friendly, with several cases to train your eye to detect abnormalities, and helpful checklists and summary boxes along the way. Key points highlight areas where students often stumble and provide additional information, useful during revision season.

This guide, as with other books of the same series, is written by medical students in collaboration with senior professionals in the field, and is thus not just reader friendly and attractive to look at, but is also accurate and concise. Since medical students have played a large part in the writing of this book, it fulfills the needs of its readership, as opposed to having to look at outdated and old-fashioned textbooks.

An area of potential improvement could be the inclusion of more orthopaedic cases, a source of confusion and anxiety, especially right before finals! Furthermore, although this guide could certainly be used to provide a basic insight into all the different imaging modalities, even for someone much later on in their careers, it mostly has quite basic cases- although this is useful to try and understand the average patient you’re likely meet on the wards and for those who haven’t really grasped the fundamental concepts involved, it is unlikely to be sufficient in terms of understanding rare or specialist cases and would need to be supplemented.

All in all, since radiology is often a section that is often not covered in sufficient detail, this guide fills in a key area of inadequacy in the curriculum and is definitely an investment, even later on when you’ve long forgotten the basics of it all!

 

Unofficial guide to passing OSCEs: Candidate briefings, patient briefings and Mark schemes (Zeshan Qureshi, 1st edition, 2013)

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This textbook provides a focused, clear and easy to understand approach to the dreaded OSCEs by Zeshan Qureshi. In this review, I will be looking at its structure and layout, what it does well as well as what in my opinion, are areas for improvement.

The book begins by covering all the different histories, including a checklist and mark schemes. It then goes onto detail the examinations/procedures involved. Each subsequent chapter is devoted to a certain specialty, such as Orthopaedics, Psychiatry, O&G and Paediatrics, and is written by specialist registrars/ trainees in the field.

The mark schemes provide an opportunity for role-play; friends can easily work in groups, playing the role of an examiner, patient and student with the briefings given. The mark schemes are also useful to note what would give you marks during the OSCE, where you’re usually anxious, stressed out and time constrained, and therefore reducing the likelihood of you completely blanking out!

The book could potentially benefit from a more detailed communication skills chapter, which would be useful for students who are either not taught much in the way of comm skills, or who have regular sessions in the subject and as a result are heavily examined on it during finals.

Furthermore, the ‘questions to consider’ section is a useful, well thought-out addition to the book, but for those in the younger years who have not yet been officiated into the deeply penetrating questions that can sometimes be asked during OSCEs might benefit from an answer scheme to the questions.

This guide goes hand in hand with the previously published Unofficial Guide to passing OSCEs; it includes more OSCE case studies and questions to consider whilst revising and is thus a real treasure when revising close to exams or before wards.

 

The Unofficial Guide to Medical Research, Audit and Teaching (Ceen-Ming Tang, Zeshan Qureshi, Colin Fischbacher, 2015)

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An award winning book written by a medical student in collaboration with junior doctors, this is the book that tells you all you should have learnt about how to get involved in research and auditing at medical school, but was never taught.

Research is paramount to the advancement of medicine, and getting medical students involved earlier on in their careers is so important. Medical students have fresh insight and perspectives into chronically challenging conditions and have more free time in comparison to most, if not all junior doctors. It is also key in getting the specialty of your choice in the US, and is CV gold here in the UK, especially in terms of securing competitive posts.

This book carefully analyses the pros and cons of the different types of research projects you could get involved in. It factors in the limited expertise and time that medical students would have and is therefore a realistic guide to what one could devote one’s time to. Flowcharts and tables help understand the entire process for the uninitiated, as well as point out new opportunities for those already involved in research.

 

An entire chapter covers the ‘PPD’ or epidemiology based topics and a comprehendible look at statistical analysis, which one would need to be thorough in before delving into research. The basics of literature searching is covered quite well by the author, including useful search strategies!

Although each chapter is written by a different author, the layout and tone don’t seem jagged or disjointed, but instead, each seamlessly flows into the next. Although at almost 150 pages, this book can be read in a day, if due to a lack of time you cannot manage to read it from cover to cover, you could easily pick out a section of interest and skim read.

The book on the whole is well structured, informative and provides a practical outlook to demystify this topic.

 

The Unofficial Guide to Practical Skills

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The Unofficial Guide to Practical Skills by Emily Hotton and Zeshan Qureshi, published by Zeshan Qureshi Publications is an up-to date guide with helpful visuals to over 50 practical procedures. It covers the most basic skills, such as hand washing, to more complex procedures such as catheterization and ABGs in a colourful, systematic, step by step manner.

The emphasis throughout is very much on patient dignity and safety, and the questions and answers provided prompt you to reflect on what you’re doing and the impact it has on the patient. I also really liked the layout of each station, especially the equipment checklist at the beginning of each procedure, and the inclusion of how to explain it all to the patient, to prevent any mishaps and false starts during an OSCE.

The inclusion of an ECG section was quite useful, however I personally thought more sample cases would have been helpful. Perhaps, in the future, we will see an ‘Unofficial Guide to ECGs’ book, one that is long overdue! An additional suggestion would be to make this book a pocket sized handbook, so it could easily be used as a reference point during ward rounds for example, but this might compromise the size of the images which at present are perfect.

When using this book, I found it simplified wordy guides by highlighting major points and using mark schemes to guide the candidate. It is ideal for anyone doing last minute preparations for OSCEs, or to flip through after a clinical skills session to review important concepts.

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