Starting a new rotation is always a difficult experience, especially when it comes to choosing your study material for rounds and the shelf exam.  The Medicine shelf is notorious amongst students as one of the hardest and most encompassing of your third year exams.  Hopefully, this will help make your decision a little bit easier and wiser.  Not all students have the same experiences with the same books.  Be sure to pick the one that best suits your style and needs.

The department offers a wonderful list of recommendations; however, below are reviews written by students based on their own experiences with the LSU medicine clerkship.



Cecil’s Essentials of Medicine

“Baby Cecil's is a fabulous home resource book.  It's a go-to that you can't go wrong with, though clearly it's too big to read through.  It's a wonderful book to help understand pathophysiology and gives a great list of important questions to ask for key history, useful labs, and a realistic Ddx.  For example, if you know you will be assigned an infective endocarditis the next day, Cecil's will make you look thorough and fabulous.  Not to mention that it has great charts for last minute studying when you are flustered.”

“Cecil’s was a great resource to use to read up on patients that you had during the wards/consults months. It’s a bit too dense to read as a study book for the actual shelf itself, but if you want to really know the background of a disease process for pimping during rounds, it’s definitely the way to go. It’s also a big help when you’re asked to give a presentation during the clerkship. Overall, it’s a great resource to get in depth info about a topic but a little too thick to use as a major study resource, in my opinion.”


Internal Medicine Essentials for Clerkship Students

“Internal Medicine Essentials for Students + MKSAP 5 is a 1-2 hit knockout for the clerkship. Start early and work through steadily by reading a chapter and doing the correlated questions right after. It's in paragraph form which makes it an easier read than some of the bullet-type study resources we’re used to. Gives a great overview of the diseases encountered in internal medicine, and MKSAP 5 helps drive home the most important aspects in question form.”

“MKSAP for Students 5 Digital, enhanced with Internal Medicine Essentials - I decided to purchase the online version of MKSAP 5 with Internal Medicine Essentials mainly for convenience.  I did not have to tote around 2 books and was able to login with my iPad or any computer that was available.  I definitely feel that the content and question bank prepared me for the Shelf exam.  I highly recommend it.” 


Step-Up to Medicine

“Step up to Medicine is wonderful-- it's detailed enough for the test though not necessarily for a patient you are working up.  It's a fabulous outline to annotate during your clerkship and not have to write the whole book from Cecil's in your pocket book.  Again, it's great for studying but be sure to supplement with study questions for best results.”

“I used Step-Up to Medicine as my primary review book and it worked great as that resource. It’s definitely more of a general outline of most topics, but will jog your memory about many things and show you what you don’t remember quite as well. I’d definitely suggest using practice questions from Kaplan or UWorld as an adjunct, but Step-Up was great for getting an outline of things to review.”

“I was disappointed in this book and ended up not using it much for studying for my medicine shelf.  It was very basic and I feel like it did not add much to my knowledge.”  

“It’s a hard read.  You’ll ask yourself midway if you’re actually learning or retaining any information.  That said, it’s pretty high-yield and useful for other rotations like Gen Surg.  The QuickHits on the margins are great for questions on the wards and to jog your memory.  Just start early because it takes a while.  I definitely foresee myself using it for my STEP 2 studying.”


Pocket Medicine

Pocketbook Medicine: have one in your coat.  It helps you learn about diseases you run into in the clerkship, not to mention that it tells you what important history not to miss, the criteria for different diseases, and a basic treatment outline.  It turns a regular day into a learning experience.

“Though this book is small, it is definitely worth its large price.  I would recommend having it in your white coat pocket during ALL rotations.  It was a great reference when attempting to come up with a plan when writing daily SOAP notes.  Also, it contains important criteria (such as the Ranson criteria) which is always important to reference when presenting your patient.  This book helps you read up quickly on whatever gets thrown at you on your rotations, helping add to your knowledge base, while ALSO making you look good on rounds/in clinic/ and during any pimp session.”




“While going through these questions, I thought they were sometimes repetitive and focused on odd things.  However, several questions on my shelf exam were almost exactly the same as those I saw on the MKSAP questions and probably would have gotten wrong otherwise.  Doesn't take long to go through at all and hits the important points.” 

“I used MKSAP 4.  While the first 2-3 chapters were incredibly daunting because I missed so many questions, it really proved to be one of the strongest part of my study regiment, only second to MKSAP 5 – some repeat questions but also some newer questions focusing on newer topics.  The questions are written by the same people writing the shelf exam, so why not use it?  It’s the best preview to the actual exam.  Some of the questions are near verbatim and time is of an essence for this shelf, more so than any of the other 6 you’ll take.  I can’t stress how amazing the explanations are and so worth the time.  I enjoyed MKSAP 4 that I went ahead and bought MKSAP 5 for more practice and reading.  Pace yourself and really take it in.  You’ll be rewarded.”



“There's definitely truth to the idea that MKSAP 5 is too easy, but it still covers many important topics that UWorld skips even though it has a third as many questions. The MKSAP 16 for residents is probably a touch too difficult, but it has way more questions and covers a bit more in depth about clinical treatments of diseases. There are also some completely absurd questions in MKSAP 16 that are clearly meant for residents (like some admission criteria or chemo regimens) so you just have to ignore those and stay confident.

MKSAP 5 on its own is likely not enough study material, but if you combine it with the resident version, then high pass and possibly honor is doable.”



“Pre-Test is a great pocket ready book for all clerkships, Medicine included.  It's great to have on you and turns wasted hang time into good review time.  I used this to supplement my Step Up to Medicine.”

“Great for downtime while on the job, but can’t say it was my most reliable resource.  It’s something worth doing at the start of the rotation, or 6 weeks out from the shelf.  It’s good for getting you ready to start studying that last month, but it’s not the best representation for the actual thing like MKSAP.”



“Uworld is particularly nice if you aren't the best test taker.  Top three reasons why it’s a good source:  

1.  Learn material as you go by reading the explanations.

2.  Realize things you don't know about things you thought you knew.

3.  Get question-reading/test-taking practice.”

“You all are familiar with Uworld at this point.  It's rock steady and should definitely be part of your study recipe for the clerkship though, for it, it's never my only resource.  Step-Up to Medicine and UWorld complement each other nicely.  Read section in Step-Up.  Quiz yourself on UWorld.  Annotate your Step-Up with UWorld.  Repeat.”


The H&P

LSU’s The Problem Oriented Patient Record

Located through the Department’s student portal, it offers a lot of information for obtaining, writing and presenting the H&P that is expected of you on rounds and in the clinic.  It’ll help you out regardless of the rotation you’re on.


UCSD Practical Guide to Clinical Medicine

There are going to be plenty of times throughout third year, an especially during your Medicine clerkship, when you wish you had paid closer attention during your SPM and ICM lectures.  This site is great for those moments!  It’s a quick yet detailed resource on how to perform focused exams and also on how to adapt from an inpatient to outpatient setting.  If you’re looking for more information on how to write and present your H&P, it’s also another wonderful resource.


Physical Diagnosis Secrets

A more engaging approach to mastering the physical exam, this book is part of the Secrets Series that is often used for STEP 2 preparation.  It focuses on honing your skills at the bedside and less so for a board exam.  A former guest speaker at LSU, Dr. Salvatore Mangione’s knowledge and expertise was (and is) very much welcomed by LSU students.


Residency Planning

American College of Physicians (ACP)

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)


Professional Organizations

American College of Physicians (ACP)

American Medical Association (AMA-ASSN)

Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS)

Orleans Parish Medical Society (OPMS)