Ubiquitous question

Did any of you med school students, or now docs, ever look at your med school texts BEFORE you started and think, “How the hell am I going to understand all these polysyllabic words?”

I am jazzed about starting this journey (again). One of the things that I like to do is read, read, and read some more. So, I perused the med textbooks at the U, and sat there, wondering, “I hope all of you were slightly intimidated by them” because I sure am!

Apparently, at some point the words make sense… but did they for YOU before you started med school?

Great question. Which book did you get out of curiousity?

Oh, I didn’t go that far. I was on campus, in the book store to look at the math texts trying to decide which class to enroll in (other topic already covered here) loving every minute of Gopher land again, and decided to walk around and randomly pull med texts off the shelves to peruse.

The first was pediatric oncology.

If accepted, that’s where I want to specialize. That led me to open all the un-shrink wrapped oncology books which led me to ports and minor surgery to implant them, which led me to thinking about OldManDave and anesthesiology, so I pulled some of them off which led me to pain management which made me think of the heart pumping the chemicals around the body so off to cardiology, then to ortho which had a pile of medical physiology books lying there… you get the picture (did I mention I have really bad ADHD?)

If I may just suggest something to think about?

I just went to our local med book store, it is on a hospital campus, and not a uni campus. Anyhow, they have an amazing selection of USED medical books, as you may or may not know from my thread, I picked up Hursts The Heart, and some new books. I paid only $35.00 for Hursts. That is a steal, though used, it is like brand new. No marking or anything in this massive two-volume book. It is used, but it’s just as good as brand new, but it’s now just one edition old. Since the 12th edition was just relesed. You should check into that, if your interested…

I am just saying that I LOVE THE USED BOOK SECTION!!

Since you are in the Twin Cities, you can also check out Half Price Books, they are a used book store with several locations. They have a medical section, and sometimes have some very new or one edition old med books and they are cheap…usually 6-7 bucks. Its a great bookstore in general and you can find many great finds there…I am there as much as possible. So if you see another woman in the medical book aisle drooling(and covered in cat hair)…say hi…its me Meg.

When you review the material, do you get lost in the V E R Y L A R G E, polysyllabic words? Some of them make complete sense and if I try, most probably. Leukocytes, granulocytic, craniofacial, musculoskeletal, myocardio, etc… even the biochem terms make sense to me if I really think about them - but by no means, second nature. Throw in graphs and charts in the books…

My son told me, “You know, Mom, that’s why you have teachers - to teach you how to understand those things” which is correct, and I was curious if those concepts, words, etc made sense before starting med school for some and it became more memorizing, categorizing, synthesizing the data…

I think for me right now, I’ll have all I can do to handle my courses and get A’s so that used book store idea might come in very handy after this semester is done.

Great idea!

Yes, I do remember flipping through the books and wondering how on earth I was going to be able to master even a portion of the material. And then it came at me, as from a firehose… but somehow the repetition, and the way things would show up in different classes in different ways, and how everything ended up being related, all fell into place.

To the point where now, I have to really work hard to make sure that I am talking in English when I am explaining stuff to my patients. I know what I mean by the phrases “chest pain” and “shortness of breath,” but unless I phrase it as, “Do you sometimes feel like you can’t catch your breath when you are doing something strenuous, like going up the stairs?” I am liable to get misleading answers.

The language of medicine helps us talk to each other but it does NOT help us talk to the rest of the world. In primary care, it’s one of my biggest challenges. I think I’m pretty good at it and I still find myself lapsing into jargon or phraseology that is foreign to “normal” people.


Mary’s post reminds me of when a family member is hospitalized and my mom or dad puts me on the phone with the nurse and instructs “Go speak nurse and then translate to us”

Its not just the words but don’t forget the abbreviations! CABG, ABX, CA, ADLs, COPD, ARDS, MI,…it’s fun to write so much with so few letters…Meg

When I worked at IBM, people used acronyms for EVERYTHING. They even had an acronym (TLAs) for our three letter acronyms. It got so obnoxious that I needed to install a bot program in our Sametime (instant messenger application) to spit out the meaning of a TLA whenever it was used in a meeting and I needed to know what it meant.

In about 2 months, I was speaking in TLA language. I am making the assumption that there will be a similar experience in medical school. The best way to learn Chinese is by living in China right? (Though someone who has stock in Rosetta Stone will probably disagree with me)

I am a huge fan of textsociety.com. They sell international softcover versions of textbooks. Same book. Same page number. An undergrad book selling for $200 is around $70. They ship from Asia with no additional charge and make it to my house in 3 days. I don’t know what med school texts they have. They have a medical category that appears to be a bunch of undergrad with some graduate stuff. Anyway, just thought I would pass it along.

They made little sense before med school, and not a lot of sense now. Oh well, most patients don’t understand “pruritic” “nosocomial” or “idiopathic”

either, so by being stupid I speak in a language they understand.