Clerkship Essentials Part 2

Just like the last one, this will be an extensive post but I will do my best to keep it as concise as possible.

On this post I will share my experience and personal opinions on the essentials for the rotations of Ob-Gyn, Surgery, and Family Medicine. I have a few tips of books, supplies, and equipment. I have linked everything, and some similar finds. This post is based on my experience and what works for me might not work for everyone.

Let’s get into the good stuff!

Med School Essentials


Obstetrics and Gynecology: 

For ob-gyn, which was my first rotation, and what I liked for the future I struggled and debated on finding the best books out there to give me the best chance at getting a good grade on the shelf. I read endless blog posts and forums and decided to get:

The Case Files is great and definitely one of the best for class quizzes, the shelf, and even the clinic. The format is that it presents a case and asks you open questions. It then gives you the answers and discusses the topic in depth but concise, and finally you get several multiple choice questions. The cases are short and you can definitely read anywhere and carry in you white coat or handbag easily.

The Blueprints is more like a review book. It has everything you need for the whole clerkship. It is in an outline format and it is all summarized information. You definitely need to have a good base of reproduction from MS1 and MS2 to get the most from this book. I really liked this book in conjunction with the APGO  videos and felt like it served as a good base for the clerkship knowledge. If you want a good full text book, this is the classic Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Finally the Comprehensive Handbook of Obstetrics and Gynecology is a great resource for those interested in the field of Ob-Gyn. Most of the residents have this on hand at all the Morning Rounds. Certainly, it is a great little book to help you out with patients, management, and pimp questions. There is also another pocket handbook that is amazing. I have linked it as an alternative. They are both basically the same thing but in different ways. This one in leather bound, and the other comes in a mini binder version.



Surgery had a LOT of resources. The utility of each varies a lot by school which are more beneficial for quizzes and such. So I will focus on the ones that helped me for the shelf. We used several text books for class discussions. I don’t know how widely used they are but we used Essentials of General Surgery by Lawrence. It is a full text book and the format is very friendly for studying. We used both the 2012 and the 2000 editions.

A good and handy classic is Dr. Pestana’s Surgery Notes. This is a little gem. It is concise, well written, compact and easy to read. You can keep this in your purse or white coat at all times. I PROMISE it will not disappoint. It has all the high yield information as well as a good assortment of questions to test your knowledge. Now MY advice is to not use this as your only resource. WHY? Because it is mainly high yield. There are a lot of important facts and details that are not found here. So always have other resources.

The other Surgery Shelf life saver was the Surgery PreTest. If you have used pretest before you know this is a great resource all through med school. If you have no idea, then this little gem is a questions book. It is designed to help you prepare for shelfs and boards. It has got board like questions and detailed explanations in the back of the book. Honestly, aside from pathophysiology shelf, I had never used it before. BUT this was a GREAT help for surgery quizzes and the shelf.

Other great resources are:

Surgery Rotation Books

Family Medicine:

I had a rough time during this rotation, a lot of things were going on in my life and I did not use any books. I have heard great things about the Case Files Family Medicine. Like I said, I did not use it, but several of my class mates did. This book has the same concept as the other Case Files. What I did use was the AAFP and ABFM question banks. AAFP Question Bank is a great resource and it has over 1000 questions designed for family medicine resident to practice for in training exams and boards. ABFM Question Bank is an app for iPhone and Android phones that had again over 1000 questions for family physicians to practice and prepare for boards. They are both great resources and I used them both fairly. My only critique is that they can sometimes be a little too broad for our shelf but it still helps you prepare for the shelf and for your own clinical knowledge.


Finally I have found the Master the Boards USMLE Step 2 CK particularly useful to read the Sunday before the Shelf exams. There is a new edition from April 2017. This book is very basic but has a good foundation of the knowledge we need. It is not complete by far. But in reality this is something that can be worked on and filled in, like we do for the First Aid for the USMLE Step 1. This I would not say is a must have, but if you like having different resources this is definitely a contender.

Other great general resources some of my freinds used include:


Ahhh supplies, the obsession of so many of us. For rotations there are not so many things that are needed, unlike the previous years. For me at least, the true essentials are pens, highlighters, notebook/notepad, and clipboard.


I have a small anxiety tick that involved clicky pens so to avoid that situation I looked for felt tip pens with a cap. I bought the FORAY porous felt tip pens in black and I really enjoy them. My only down side is that since it is a porous felt tip there are certain angles that are not the best. Granted, this is only an issue when things are in a rush. I have seen a lot of attendings and residents that use TUL  gel fine point pens in black. They have a really fine point, are clickable, and last a very long time.


I just bought Office Depot brand 12 pack of skinny highlighters. They are not as strong as sharpie brand and do not bleed though the shiny or thin pages. Similar ones: BIC, or if you prefer colored ones these are pretty cool Zebra Highlighter.


I do not have a link for the ones I have used because I usually find them in Marshalls and TJ Maxx but that will also depend on your personal preferences.


Almost everyone in my school/class has the White Coat Clipboard in a variety of colors. I have mine in Teal. There are other retailers that have them and there are two stiles, horizontal and vertical fold. These are awesome. I love that it has a los of handy info on the stickers. This really allows you to stay on top of certain values while on rounds and doing notes. Makes a busy day a lot smoother.


Medical Equipment

My favorite part of this post is the equipment!


No medical student or professional is complete without a stethoscope. This item is the single most prized possession of a medical student because it hallmarks the transition from the desk to the clinic. There are 2 classic stethoscopes most people have, both from Littmann: The Classic II S.E. and the Cardiology III. I own the Classic II S.E. in caribbean blue with rainbow finish on the chest piece.

The major difference between these is that the classic is for use only in adults. It has the bell on one side and the diaphragm on the other. Both of these have different specific uses but in summary they provide two ways to listen to the heart and lungs, depending on the type of sounds. The Classic II SE should only be used in adults because it features only one size of diaphragm. Meanwhile, the Cardiology III has two sides, one for children and one for adults. It has both the bell and diaphragm built into the same piece on both sides. I chose the Classic because 1) it was more affordable and 2) I wanted the rainbow chest piece, and in that moment I could only get it in that style.



The other equipment I have found useful to have is listed below with at least 2 options. One is the same that I own and another similar with a price difference. This list will vary a lot depending on the area where you are. Here we sometimes do need to have Blood Pressure cuffs at hand, or the neuro set or tuning fork because sadly not all clinics or hospitals have them on hand for us, other times we need to do complete physical exams on specialties where they do not use certain equipment. So we use them in first and second year when we are trained for physical exams and then in the clinical setting.

a) Neuro Set: I like the completeness of this set and the different options you get for the reflex hammer because I have found some people find one style useful, while others prefer another. (similar)

b) Pulso Oximeter: similar

c) Blood Pressure Cuff: I bought mine in a local supply store. Similar options: Option 1Option 2Option 3 (very popular)

d) Penlight: similar

e) Tuning Fork : similar

f) Maxwell Quick Medical Reference

clerkship essentials

If you have read all of this, thank you much for your support, and congrats! This was a a very long post.


Jani V <3

*Disclaimer: Some links are affiliate links which means for every click or purchase through these links I get a small commission, this does not influence the price you pay for any item at all, it just helps support and produce content for this blog. Full disclosure statement HERE

3 comments so far.

3 responses to “Clerkship Essentials Part 2”

  1. […] spoke about my essentials for medical school here and here, and there I have a list of what I have used for clerkships so far including books, […]

  2. pinossecret says:

    I really like the set up of ur blog! So happenly, I want to go into med school as well. I will def use ur blog as a guide.

    • Jani V says:

      Thank you and welcome! Med school is great even when it’s hard and tiresome. Feel free to contact me for anything you might need! I hope you enjoy the blog and your own Med school journey

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