How the Endocrine System Works .

Endocrinology

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No one in the medical community has so far been successful at stopping the epidemic of terrible endocrinology books that has been plaguing the medical community for decades.

I won’t name names but have a look at what’s out there and you’ll be stunned: the market is full of bloated endocrinology tomes that have many hundreds of pages packed with boring and mostly unreadable text. Even the clinical reference manuals, which are supposed to be concise, range from 400 to 1000 pages of densely packed text and few visuals. It’s as if almost no one is able to write clearly—and then stop! And what for? Endocrinology is the most intuitive of all medical specialties and relies heavily on endocrine physiology which is also fairly intuitive and straightforward. So why all the unnecessary hyper-complexification?

I don’t know for sure, and we won’t solve this problem in a single blog post. However, I can point you to a clinical endocrinology book that bucks this unfortunate trend: How the Endocrine System Works (2016). This book is what you need to help you learn medical school-level endocrinology without making your life overly complicated, without shortchanging your education, and without making a fool of yourself during rounds or during examinations.

And although the title seems to suggests that this is mostly a basic science book (along the lines of other “How the … System Works” books in the series), this is not the case at all. How the Endocrine System Works (2016) is as much a clinical guide as it is a review of basic physiology, pathophysiology and molecular biology. (Not incidentally, the book was written by an endocrinologist who is a residency program director to boot).

How the Endocrine System Works
How the Endocrine System Works (2016)

The chief limitation of this book is that it is only 140 pages long and is missing some content elements the would make this an even more worthwhile book for more advanced medical students. For example, important clinical scenarios such as DKA might be better appreciated by the reader if broken down more deliberately into headers for clinical history, physical examination, laboratory findings, treatment, etc. Also, the author did a terrific job with the visuals, and I’d love to see even more of them in future editions.

(I’m not exactly sure how to get there with the “How the … System Works” brand which tends more toward the basic sciences. Perhaps future editions will include a subtitle such as A Clinical Outline along with the changes suggested above. Or perhaps even better, I need to stop wishing this book would be something the author might not even want it to be. If that’s the case, I’m just here to tell you that there’s a lot more value within the book than what the title seems to suggest).

Anyway, How the Endocrine System Works (2016) is a superb clinical and basic science review book, and I recommend it very highly to all medical students—starting in year one. In addition, residents and even attendings in most medical fields are likely to benefit from it as well.