The Physician Assistant Life

Books and Beyond - Books That Will Make Your Life Better!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

–  Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut    

One of the best habits you can develop is the habit of reading.  

Below is a mix of books I couldn’t live without during PA school and others are books I have personally read (or listened to) over the last several years. Many of these books have helped shape my perspectives on medicine, science and the world. I add to this list regularly.

Books that are labeled with ** are ones I highly recommend for anyone pursuing or in a medical profession.

Please see my Review Books page for recommended PANCE and PANRE prep books.

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Seriously, who doesn’t love a good pocketbook. As long as you don’t lose your short white coat these pocketbooks should last for years. I still have mine from PA school in my office drawer. These are the three “must haves”. 


The Tarascon Pharmacopia is the one pocketbook I cannot live without. Although, after PA school I have transitioned to their amazing iOS app the small pocketbook is something I still recommend to all of my students. The pediatric dosing instructions alone make it worth every penny. Yes, you can use free apps such as ePocrates, but after 11 years Tarascon is still my go to source for prescribing and I wouldn’t leave home without it. 

Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy

The Sanford Guide is an wonderful little resource packed full of information that goes far beyond antibacterial treatments and causative bacterial agents. My only regret as a student was that I didn’t spend enough time understanding the book prior to using it. Grab a copy, spend 30 minutes fully grasping its utility and you will carry it with you through retirement. They also have a wonderful iOS app

Maxwell’s Quick Medical Reference

This is a classic! Great quick guide to SOAP notes, notes for surgery or OBGYN, quick reference to review of systems and physical exam. Also a handy visual acuity eye chart and other great quick reference info.  I used this daily during my PA school rotations and stashed it in my desk drawer after graduation. I just recently pulled it out again and couldn’t believe all the useful information. 


Each of these books are timeless classics around which you can build your entire medical library. I use my Netter Atlas daily while explaining medical conditions to my patients. Or the absolutely amazing Essential Anatomy iPad App.


I love books that take complex concepts and make them incredibly simple. These are winners in every sense of the word. The Costanzo Physiology book listed below has changed a bit over the years, but I still reference this book from time to time and find it gives the most straight forward, easy to understand explanations of some of the most complex physiologic processes such as acid base disorders and respiratory physiology. The diagrams are priceless!


These are some of my favorite reference books. Clinical Guidelines in Family Practice was introduced to me by a Nurse Practitioner and is the one book I would recommend above all others. Differential Diagnosis in Primary Care is a close second that I use weekly in the clinic setting. 



Self Published Books Written by Physician Assistants



I am a big fan of the Blueprints series. I used them mostly as an adjunct to study for my post-rotational exams. That being said, I also found them to be a valuable tool for PANCE preparation. Check the publication year before purchasing on Amazon,  I have noticed there tend to be several options and some are in need of updating. 


The Harriet Lane Handbook and Nelson Pediatrics are “gold standards”. The Blueprint series makes for a nice and concise review prior to examinations. 

Internal Medicine

Surgical Rotation

Check out this wonderful youtube channel on suturing technique. Or on my site PAFLIX under suturing

Global Health

My Big List of Books

Below is a comprehensive list of books that I have read over the last several years and would recommend. Some are based on medicine and others cover topics ranging from personal finance to social justice. Most are non-fiction. 

Medical Books That Will Make You a Better Person and Provider

Functional and Integrative Medicine


Social Justice


Social Justice

Personal Development

Personal Finance & Investing

Recommended Reading for Young Investors







PA School

Recommended resources for getting through PA school:

Medicine – some of my favorites


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