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Edited by Michael Hobsley and Paul Boulos. (Pp 427; £29.99.) Arnold Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0-340-631186-4.
Teaching medicine is an art, constantly undergoing change, with mechanisms for imparting knowledge being continuously challenged and criticised. Certain aspects of medicine, and in particular surgery, will always need to be didactic and some of my best memories from medical school emanate from forcefully delivered lectures which left no room for lateral thinking, a far cry from today’s problem orientated learning processes.
The editors and authors have combined both styles and have sought to provide a comprehensive textbook covering all aspects of surgery, both core general surgery and relevant subspecialties. The book seeks to provide a “roadmap” for common symptoms and signs and has been divided up into non-emergencies and emergencies. The style and arrangement of the book are different from other textbooks of surgery. The focus is on symptoms and signs which the surgical trainee is likely to encounter, and works backwards to show how one can identify which of several possible diseases produced that clinical picture. I have to say that I found this quite difficult and rather unstimulating, though this probably represents my own medical training in a more traditional didactic environment. The book suffers from a minimum of colour, presumably for economic reasons, which makes reading and assimilating more difficult.
Nevertheless, overall this book is very comprehensive, offers great value for money, and probably lends itself very well to today’s problem orientated approach to medical education.
The reviewers have been asked to rate these books in terms of four items: readability, how up to date they are, accuracy and reliability, and value for money, using simple four point scales. From their opinions we have derived an overall “star” rating: * = poor, ** = reasonable, *** = good, **** = excellent.