The Best Books for Medical School: Clinical Rotations – 2023


The Best Books for Medical School:

 Clinical Rotations – 2023 

By #LifeofaMedStudent



The Best Books for Medical School: Clinical Rotations

For utilizing the Best Books for Clinical rotations, I suggest picking one study book and 1-2 question banks.
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(Note: Check out the recommendations for basic science books -> The Best Books for Basic Science in Medical School)


How to Study:

Honestly, I almost failed anatomy during my first semester of medical school – then a very wise professor told me the secret to studying in medical school. I never came close to failing again! The best books, the right plan, and loads of practice questions make up my guide on “How to Study in Medical School.”


For many rotations, different books are considered the “gold standard” but I actually liked sticking with one brand. Blueprints tended to be the most detailed, but also the most challenging to get through. Case Files is an often-cited favorite, is comprehensive enough, and presents the material by going through clinical cases. First Aid, like its many other study books, is concise and bullet-point formatted.


Personally, my learning style fits best with Blueprints. I would read through this and take my own fairly comprehensive study notes. After completing the book, I would then use Pretest and USMLE World for question banks. This both tested my knowledge and how comprehensive my study notes turned out. I would also add any questions or subjects I missed to my notes. The last few days before the test I would review those notes repeatedly, hoping to see as much information as possible, as close to the exam as I could.


Every Rotation – MUST have!

For actual clinical work, and looking like a star on rotations – Pocket Medicine is a must-have. This very concisely presents the diagnosis and treatments of the most common medical problems you’ll see. It’s geared toward internal medicine, but has utility in surgical and outpatient settings as well! The key is to see a patient, look up their problem/diagnosis in Pocket Medicine, and then present that information and treatment to your upper residents/attendings. I still carried my original Pocket Medicine with me on moonlighting shifts – it was THAT helpful.




Step-Up to Medicine is the gold standard here and is a must-own for every medical student. I even reviewed my notes from this book as an intern for USMLE Step 3 and was happy with the results.




Here I believe both Blueprints and Case Files are equally strong, just depending on your preference.




For surgical rotations, it is a must to have Surgical Recall. This is the “anti-pimp” book and will case-by-case present much of the commonly asked questions from attendings and residents in the OR. Example – if you are about to scrub in on a Lap Chole – you look Lap Chole up in the book and it will tell you in a 2 min read the basics for indications, anatomy, etc that are often questioned in the OR. LIFESAVER, especially for random surgeries you may only see one of and never care about again. For overall studying, I used Dr. Pestana’s notes below as it was a concise, to the point review and followed it up with questions from Pretest/USMLEWorld.




For OB the usual recommendation is that this is the best specialty of the Blueprints series.



Family Medicine:

Case Files or Blueprints are probably equal. Again, I’d definitely try to do Pre-Test and another question bank for practice questions for this shelf.




Case Files is usually recommended for your neurology rotation.




Usually, the thought is that First Aid is good for review, but sometimes not in-depth enough for first-time clerkship studying. This subject is probably the exception, as the psych shelf exam is often a lot of definitions as much as anything. The other books are probably overkill and First Aid + some practice questions is likely sufficient.


Emergency Medicine:

During my rotation, we did not take a shelf so I did not take the time to read a main study book. I did use Pre-test to test my overall knowledge.



Rarely, will you take much of an exam for your anesthesia rotation. But if you’re interested in anesthesia, I’d recommend “Baby Miller” to have during medical school and to excel in rotations.
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The Best Books for Clinical Rotations
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The Best Books for Family Medicine Rotation
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