Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties

An essential item for any medical student and an integral part of the white coat, the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties, a.k.a the 'Salt and Vinegar' (it has a blue cover, as opposed to the 'Cheese and Onion' - green and yellow) is indispensable in the fifth year of medical school.

Having embarked on this penultimate year of medical school myself, and vainly trying to cut the mustard as a discerning medic, I ordered this book.

Factual and to the point, it provides an at-a-glance summary for the features and management of medical conditions, plus it fits in your pocket.

However, what I like most about this book are the humanities-inspired passages that intersperse the chapters. They remind us all what we are doing and why, without losing sight of the patient before us: that the collection of systems we are interested in makes up a person.

I haven't yet discovered all the passages and intend not to: finding them by chance is a more surprising and satisfying endeavour. My favourite so far prefaces the orthopaedic chapter and tells of the surgeon who labels his patients 'hags', and sets off irately down the ward, abandoning his humanity with every step, his fury arising from his realisation that he is letting his humanity go. The author of the chapter comes to their own realisation when exhaustedly collapsing onto a patient's bed: when the patient moves over to make room, they grasp the notion that the hags must make room for the doctor, and vice versa - 'they are all in the same bed'.

What a pleasure to know such an influential book contains a quick reference guide to humanity as well as medicine. It prides itself on multidisciplinary learning, which it achieves to a high degree.


Anjali said...

i totally agree. i like the introduction to the paediatrics section which explains why children are different and not just "small adults".

very interesting and a nice reminder how to treat patients as people!

if anyone needs a new cheese n onion i've got 3 spare!

periergia said...

How on earth did you manage to end up with three spare??