The Last Book is Here

August 12, 2010

My last textbook arrived today!  I waited until the last minute (literally some of my books had until the 23rd to arrive–I leave on the 21st–that would not work) but now they’re all here and thankfully can be packed in my suitcase to go down to the islands and never come back!  There were so many mixed opinions on which books should be bought…it was hard to make up my mind.  According to the MUA bookstore link, these are the books:

Cell Bio/Histology:

Color Atlas of Histology
by Gartner
ISBN: 0781788722
ISBN-13: 9780781788724
Edition: 5

ISBN: 0781772214
ISBN-13: 9780781772211
Edition: 5

ISBN: 0071402888
ISBN-13: 9780071402880
Edition: 3

ISBN: 0781770572
ISBN-13: 9780781770576
Edition: 11

ISBN: 0071630201
ISBN-13: 9780071630207
Edition: 12
ISBN: 1416037063
ISBN-13: 9781416037064
Edition: 8

ISBN: 0781790697
ISBN-13: 9780781790697
Edition: 11
Gross Anatomy:

ISBN: 160406062X
ISBN-13: 9781604060621
Edition: 1

ISBN: 0781799155
ISBN-13: 9780781799157
Edition: 4

by Tank
ISBN: 0781774314
ISBN-13: 9780781774314
Edition: 14

ISBN: 1416059512
ISBN-13: 9781416059516
Edition: 5

ISBN: 0781771749
ISBN-13: 9780781771740
Edition: 6
Informatics & Evidence-Based Medicine:
ISBN: 007159034X
ISBN-13: 9780071590341
Edition: 2
A lot of books, eh?  Just buying the required books from the bookstore would run you $420.97 plus shipping.  Add the recommended books and you’re up to a whopping $768.01!  As with everything else related to attending a Caribbean Med School, I researched the forums on all these textbooks and go figure, they’re not all necessary.  In fact, there were several comments that said that all of the lessons are given off of powerpoints and no books are technically required in any class.  If it was just one comment, I would have been concerned but still at least bought the required books, but there were many people that said the same thing.  There were a lot of people that said to completely disregard the book list and buy BRS (Board Review Series) for all of the subjects except IEBM (because there isn’t a BRS book for this class).  I decided to buy based on a mixture of the 2 top suggestions, here are the books I decided to get–
Gross Anatomy:
Cell Biology/Histology:
I went ahead and got BRS for each of the subjects, but then for anatomy…since it’s so important…I decided to get the recommended books too.   Obviously I got older editions of almost everything–typically I’m all for getting the latest edition, treating my books nicely, and then reselling them used on Amazon for extra book funds for the upcoming semester, but transporting books back and forth from Nevis, where it would literally cost an arm and a leg to ship books to people in the US if they bought them, it’s just not worth it.   The editions from yesteryear can be bought for pennies and kept/destroyed/potentially sold to incoming students without thinking another thing about them.
Also there were a lot of people on the forums, a lot of senior people who are working on their clinicals or who are even in residency, who said that if they had one thing to change about school, it would have been to start reviewing for the Step 1 earlier.  They all said not to panic about it, but that it would be a good idea to pick up a copy of First Aid (the year doesn’t matter) to review right before final exams and throughout basic sciences so that you are not caught off-guard when you start your fifth semester of solid review for the Step 1.  The other two books were out of personal curiosity and a lingering feeling that I’m forgetting something major.  I hope I’m not, but I think they cover all of the issues that may or may not pertain to semi-civilized life on Nevis.
The only potential complication with the extra books is that for them to be most effective, I should probably read them before I leave, and if I have many more days like today, that won’t be possible.  I spent my day going around Burke county, running errands for my parents, then Dad came home and wanted me to go to the fairgrounds and help him with prepping them for the upcoming Drexel Community Fair next week.  It was obviously hot outside so I did my best to prepare for the weather and the on-coming sweat storm–shorts, t-shirt, hair up, hair band.  For 3 hours we scrubbed the exhibit hall, cleaned/de-wasped the ticket booths, moved heavy benches, and de-tangled the hoses.  And came home dripping in sweat.  Eeew it was so gross.  Soaked gouchos, soaked shirt, soaked everything.  And the burny feeling when sweat drips in your eyes.  Now I’m just exhausted.  And Dad informs me that at least he has to go back tomorrow night.  Ugh.  So tired.  Taking Advil and going to bed.  Will pack the books later.

6 Responses to “The Last Book is Here”

  1. Katherine Hernandez said


    After all was said and done, what books do you recommend I bring for MED 1? (May 2011)

    Also, I was thinking about taking all of my notes on a Notes application on my ipad (I am also bringing my laptop). This will be something new since I’ve always hand written my notes, just wondering what your opinion is on that.

    Oh and also, I just got an email saying that I wont be in dorm and was told “Your house is 1 bedroom 1 bathroom at US$525.00 per month + utilities. Please contact your landlord Steve Tyson for details.”

    I’ve already emailed him asking for more details, but I haven’t recieved a response. Are you familiar with him and/or the property he has?



    • jenningers said

      Hey Katherine,

      After all was said and done what books? Well, the thing is, there are some great resources out there but you just don’t have enough time. For me, if I used all my brain power and paid attention in lecture, that was all I needed to do well. The profs tell you almost exactly what you need to know with little filler. I found the BRS books good for studying because they have practice questions at the end of each of the chapters, so you can make sure the knowledge is assimilated practically. If you are one of those people who decide not to go to class, then yes, you’ll probably need a few books to fall back on, or if class isn’t as productive for your learning as it was for me, then you’ll have to teach yourself out of books, too.

      For anatomy, Netters–either flash cards or the big, heavy book will do. If you’re a visual learner, it helps to be able to look at the diagrams and learn where muscles and nerves are relative to other structures. It’s likely I would have done better had I utilized this resource more, but admittedly, my motivation was a bit lacking in this class. The prof. is “special.”

      For anatomy lab, NOTHING. There are 10s of copies of Grant’s Dissector in the lab–someone’ll bring theirs in and it’ll get all nasty with embalming fluid all over it so that no one will ever want to bring it out of the lab again, so there it sits (same thing with dissection kits). Don’t buy a new one only to get it ruined. Just watch the videos online about dissecting and you’ll see which ways you’re supposed to do your cutting. If you’re unsure, you can ask the lab profs and they’ll help you. Just make sure you bring gloves for yourself.

      For histo, nothing. All of the facts and photos are in the slides. And there are so many slides, I don’t conceivably see how you would have time to read anything else for this class. If you absolutely must have a print resource, get BRS.

      For embryology, nothing. The “required” textbook is NEVER mentioned in class, not even the title. The prof., one of my favorites, does an excellent job telling you exactly what you’ll need to know, and if you’re like me, you’ll come to look forward to embryo as a light-hearted break from your hardcore classes, anat and histo.

      For EBM, absolutely nothing. Again, the “required” textbook is NEVER mentioned in class.

      Whatever you do, don’t spend money on the latest greatest versions of these books! Except for a bladder/perineal muscle here or there, Netters hasn’t changed in 50 years so get the oldest, cheapest version you can. BRS throws in an extra question or two, but it’s still not worth the $30-50 difference in cost between buying a new version and an old version. I usually go for used books–I buy the books for $1-2 and end up paying $3.99 for shipping–actually more than the cost of the book! Another option is waiting until you get down here on the island to buy used books from the upper meds. Many upper meds recommend this to avoid the cost of shipping books down in your luggage, but it’s up to you.

      As to your notes, there aren’t a lot of people using iPads in class, though many have them. All of our notes from the profs are in Word documents and Microsoft Powerpoints, so compatibility could be an issue. There is one girl I know of in my class who uses a tablet PC (Windows-based) to take notes, but what most of us do is either:

      A) Type notes into the “notes” section below each powerpoint slide within a presentation (majority)
      B) Bring down a laser jet printer and print out the powerpoints and physically write notes on them (this can get expensive) (5 or so people out of a class of 100)
      C) Use Microsoft One Note to import the powerpoint slides and write notes via text bubbles alongside the slides (5 or so people out of a class of 100)

      I’m trying out One Note during our reviews with large PDF files that I don’t want to print out and I must say that I like it a lot so far and might use it next semester. It has a search feature that looks especially lucrative. To combine the best of both worlds, I think I might buy a Bamboo pen ( VPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=05T2D1NADMTQPZHMES1M) and try it out with physically writing notes within One Note.

      Whatever you do, make sure you have a back-up, both electronically and hand-written. I’ve seen MANY computers die a sad death on this island, so make sure you bring an extra adaptor for your computer and an external hard drive is a must. Also writing out notes is an excellent way to reinforce the material, at your own speed, outside of class.

      Haven’t heard your land lord, sorry. My best advice is just to roll with it and see how your place is. People who aren’t assigned to the dorms during first semester have mixed experiences–some of them hated their assigned place and moved out after the first semester, but then some people LOVED their places and are still there. At least you know you won’t be FORCED into moving at the end of the semester like in the dorms. $525/mo is a fair price for the island. If you want other options, try, click on housing options, and start calling people off of the list. You’ll still be at a disadvantage because you can’t physically see these places, but you’ll have more of a choice that way. Some of the nicer (ahem, more expensive) places have photos available, so you’d know what you were getting into. Because you’re first semester, you’ll probably want to stay within the part of the list that’s 5-10 minutes away from school, just for simplicity’s sake, but know that regardless of where you end up, the school’s vans are required to come pick you up for school in the mornings.

      Best of luck to you, hope this helps!


  2. Rachel said

    thank you very much for providing this! So just to make sure I understood correctly- it’s not necessary to get all the required books? I’m not sure if the teachers ever assign reading from the required texts >_<;;

    • jenningers said

      Hi Rachel,

      Required books are not required. There are recommended readings listed on the syllabus for many classes, however there is NEVER anything assigned from the required books that cannot be gained from the lectures. If it would give you greater peace of mind to have the books, then by all means bring them, but I’m just saying that realistically it’s not a must.

      Best of luck,


  3. ufj1991 said

    Hi Jenn,

    After looking at countless threads on valuemd and sdn, I have to say this blog has really helpful in deciding what to do. I start in Jan 2015 and still have a few questions I hoping you could clear..once you get a chance of course =)

    1) After reading threads I was going to take my luggage with me on the airline and pay the extra fees. However, I head that your luggage does get left behind but eventually makes its way to you. Did you have any trouble with yours when you shipped it through Tropical?

    2) Due to my limited space, I am really unsure about how to buy textbooks. And since i live in Canada, it costs $40-$50 just for shipping even if the book is $4 -__- so Im thinking ill get the books on the island. Also, from what you recommended, would first aid, Netters Atlas of Anatomy, and clinical essential anatomy be sufficient text material? And are BRS really helpful?

    3) I plan on buying a few things on the island as its hard to ship them as a fan, broom, and printer (to name a few). Do you think thats a good idea or too risky in case I don’t find it. I will arrive a few days before orientation so I will miss the end of the semester sale (not too sure about how this works)

    4) I own a mac for a while and don’t want to buy another laptop that is recommended like Dell. Is this going to affect my ability to download any material or anything? Also, valuemd threads recommended to buy a surge protector, UPS, extra laptop adaptor/battery and portable power surge protector (not too sure about this one). Are these sufficient enough so that my laptop stays secure?

    These are all the questions I can think of right now and I would really appreciate if you could answer them. Thanks so much =)

    • jenningers said

      Hello, UFJ1991,

      Hope you’re doing well. Glad the blog has been helpful, that is its goal. Congratulations on your acceptance to MUA – it’s a big undertaking but soooo worth it in the end. Lets take a whack at your questions:

      1) I always brought luggage on the plane with me in addition to shipping items with Tropical so that all of my eggs weren’t in one basket. When you take the small planes from Antigua/St. Maarten into Nevis, the chance that all of your luggage won’t make it is high, which is why I usually went a different route so I could stay on the bigger, regular-sized planes and there was less risk of left-behind luggage. Tropical sends down one freighter per week so if your luggage doesn’t make it onto the freighter scheduled for that week, you are guaranteed to have to wait another week before your things could potentially make it to the island. I felt that Tropical was a better option for shipping large things that made life on the island more comfortable but were not necessities – those went in my suitcase.

      2) At this point, there are so many PDF’s floating around in cyberspace that it’s not worth it to buy the books ahead of time and try to find a way to ship them down to the island. Yes, the BRS’s are helpful in that they’re great summaries of the material and not as wordy as the primary sources or even the slides. They’re good when reviewing for shelf exams. I recommended having a physical copy of Netter’s anatomy because it is helpful to look at-/visualize different angles and views of the structures on which you will be tested. That’s not easy to do on a computer, in my opinion.

      3) You will find your essentials in the island shops…aside from a printer. Most electronics are horribly overpriced. That said, I didn’t use my printer that much and you’ll likely be able to find a used one at the student sale, you’d just have to bring down some more ink the next time you went home.

      4) Mac’s are fine. You shouldn’t have any trouble. If you want to double-check that there aren’t any programs that aren’t Mac-friendly, if you go to the MUA Mentors facebook group, our IT captain will respond to most technical questions posed in the forum. A surge protector is a good thing to bring – the wiring on the island is not super-reliable and has varying currents. Anything you can use to buffer the irregular electricity going to your electronic devices is helpful. UPS’s are heavy. I would try to find one from a student on the island – they are extra battery supplies that kick in when the power goes out (often). If you don’t have paper back-ups of your notes or a battery supply, you are S-O-L when the power goes out and you need to study. Your other option, of course, is to go to school, where they have generators or if you live in one of the buildings that has a generator. Extra laptop power source is a great safety net. They are relatively cheap and easily available in the US/Canada, but then getting one on the island if yours goes sour is a chore. Best-case scenario, your folks get one, ship it down to you and you get it in a week…but missing a week of computer notes when we are tested every 3 weeks is…tough to recover from. It’s just easier to have a back-up already there on the island so that your work won’t skip a beat. You don’t need a portable surge protector unless you’re trying to study at school and having a tough time finding a free outlet. I did not have this problem.

      In regards to your concern that MCAT correlates with USMLE…you can throw that thought out the window. MCAT is a horrible, over-used standardized test that measures how good of sponges students are during their undergrad years. That’s it. They might as well test us on the details of underwater basket-weaving…you do NOT use physics in medical school, you use minimal chemistry, and while the test is inherently biology-based…it’s HUMAN biology that we focus on. This is how folks who are English or Psychology majors and NOT science majors are accepted into medical schools and still end up making superb physicians.

      The USMLEs test you on information which you learn in medical school. Step 1 tests you on the knowledge you learn during basic sciences (the book-work period) and how well you can apply that to common real-world medical problems. Step 2 CK tests you on clinical knowledge that you learn through actual practice during the clinical years…what’s the next best test? what treatment would be most appropriate? things like those. Step 2 CS tests your clinical skills–how well you can examine and talk-to a patient. Are you gentle, thoughtful, efficient, and compassionate? Those are tough qualities to gauge, so that’s why the test is pass/fail…you either are ready to be a doctor or you aren’t (and you study and try again). Finally Step 3 is designed to test that you’re doing alright in residency. You’ve figured out how to take care of patients on your own (with supervision), and when given test/exam results, you know what the next appropriate step is in diagnosis or treatment. It’s like a more ramped-up, detailed version of Step 2 CK…and thankfully it is pass/fail too.

      So put your worries to rest. Step scores have nothing to do with MCATs. Just pay attention and put much effort into med school and the steps won’t be a problem.

      Hope this helps! And congratulations again! Hope you love MUA.

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