PA School Textbook Essentials


Fall has arrived!

All across the country, grad schools and medical schools alike are kicking into high gear and welcoming their newest recruits into the fold.

This time last year I was starting my journey of PA school with bright eyes, fire in my soul, and little awareness of just how much I was going to be challenged to learn over the coming months.

Here is a little walk down memory lane…

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Thankfully I am still standing here today one year later.

I’m still in love with the PA profession and giddy with excitement about the future ahead of me.
But an essential part of starting PA school is having the proper references and texts to get you the information you need and fast. Here are my top 5 texts that I’ve found essential during the course of my didactic education as a Physician Assistant Student.


Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination & History Taking

Bates’ gives you everything you need to know to perform a thorough physical exam. From learning the locations of where to place your stethoscope when auscultating heart sounds to understanding how to perform Psoas and Obturator sign, this text gives you the in’s and out’s of each body system comprised within the full physical. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this text…



Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy

When I was taking Anatomy my first quarter of PA school, this text came in handy as I tried to reproduce and draw the anatomy out, because I could trace, highlight, photocopy, etc. It’s the quintessential text for anatomy courses across the United States and is a great reference tool throughout your classes when reviewing vascular systems, lobes of the brain, etc. I’m sure I will refer back to it throughout my surgery course as well.



OnlineMedEd Quicktables

OnlineMedEd is a great resource for videos, notes, and flashcards for most disease states that will be tested on your boards. I however love their QuickTables book, because it’s a handy reference when studying everything from Pulmonology to Rheumatology, and it’s great when preparing for clinical rotations. Chocked full of mnemonics and lots of clinical pearls, this book is a keeper!



The Common Symptom Guide

I actually not too long ago grabbed this text as per the suggestion of a fellow classmate, and this quarter it’s become a required text for us to have. So unfortunately I have yet to use it, but I do know that many students out on clincal rotations found this one to be particularly helpful.



Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment

I have a love-hate relationship with this text. Partially because it is so massive and can often be cumbersome to carry around when you are studying at a coffee shop (you may want to consider opting for the pdf version), however it is an INCREDIBLE reference as you begin to learn about the art of evidence-based medicine. Each year they publish a new version of it with the most “current’ medical techniques. I used it a ton early on in school and still loving using it as I make disease sheets and try to hash through different diagnoses.



PANCE Prep Pearls

Our professors do not care for this text, however it is a great reference once you have learned the information and need a handy study guide for all things medical. I use it a lot as a way to reiterate things we have learned in lecture and labs. It’s concise and to the point without the fluff that some references have. However, it really should only be used as a study tool, not a stand alone reference text. This will be particularly handy as I prepare for my certification exam, the PANCE.




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