Author: Rogan J. Corbridge
Publisher: Hodder Arnold
Before acquiring a new textbook, an undergraduate medical student may have already had a few recommendations. Opting for well-known titles favoured by a fellow student or lecturer, or for a reading-list staple, can save precious time when sifting through books in the library. But for the specialty that encompasses knowledge of the ear, nose and throat (ENT), either there is no such text or the word is not generally on the street. So the textbook search is on.
Essential ENT starts by gaining two easy points. First, it has “essential” in its title: studying for a degree where the challenge is to accrue a large amount of information in a short amount of time means that titles carrying the promise of pre-selected knowledge are attractive. Second, it is thin and light enough to avoid the appearance of an intimidating book. The author states that the text will give students and junior doctors a good grounding, and that it is a refresher for those commencing ENT specialty training: this is a fair assessment.
The contents and layout mimic the simplicity of the title. The contents are logically ordered by anatomy and also include brief sections for history, examination, investigations and drugs. Although some of the text appears to be too dense to allow for the quick extraction of facts, the explanations it includes are comprehensive, the benefit being that learning occurs by understanding and therefore has longevity. To offset the text, plenty of pictures, diagrams and “key points” boxes provide an overview for more rapid access. Although it might be tempting to opt for a textbook that provides information more succinctly, here the reader can feel assured that the text is comprehensive, saving the need to cross-reference in future.
Improvements could be made, however, by providing short, end-of-chapter questions that would allow the student to gauge whether the more complex principles are being accrued correctly - and some of the explanations of examination findings need reinforcing.
The book’s strength, however, is that its author truly has tried to distil the essential knowledge into one text. That information is prioritised, too, by tackling the practical skills in the first two chapters. Crucially, it feels as though it has been written by an author who sees the student’s needs as paramount.
No textbook can replace the essential role of a tutor, but a good book can take the student most of the distance, leaving the reinforcement to practice. This is a good textbook to befriend for long-term ENT learning. If a quick fix is desired, it may be preferable to look elsewhere.
Who is it for? Undergraduate medical students or junior doctors.
Presentation: Logical and well illustrated.
Would you recommend it? To students who are looking for a long-term ENT manual, yes.