Textbook of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery: A Competency-Based Approach for Undergraduates

Review by L Flood
Middlesbrough, UK

There is many a textbook carrying such a title, so the subtitle is fundamental is establishing any novelty. “Undergraduate” I take to mean medical students, but it did strike me immediately that any such trainee who can recite the TNM Classification, grade a subglottic stenosis or even recognise, let alone interpret, an electrocochleogram is a rarity and certainly not typical of those who pass through our medical schools (almost totally untrained in any ENT whatsoever).

The subtitle also specifies “A Competency-Based Approach”, something is very topical in India and it is to readers in that country that this content is very much addressed. There is many a reference to National Programmes, Institutions and local practice as a result. The Competency Based Educational Curriculum in India proves to be very well documented on-line and I learnt much there about its progressive introduction since 2016. It does, however, seem largely aimed at postgraduate education in ENT and at those heading for the MS exam. There is a competency Mapping Chart occupying over 4 pages in the earliest pages of this book and every chapter then links to and specifies the competencies to be addressed. I would have welcomed some coverage of the underlying ethos and principles behind this approach in the Introduction, however self-evident.

Whatever its target audience, this is a very well presented book, with colour photography and diagrams on every page. It is ideal for “dipping into” as a reference, but it is no pocket book, even with a soft cover. Boxed text is labelled as “Points to Ponder” or “Pearls” and each chapter closes with an “Endnote”, usually offering some historical insight. “Case Based Questions” and “Frequently Asked Questions” close most chapters but, again, it would be a rare UK undergraduate who could answer “What is the importance of the Onodi air cell?” or “What is Samter’s Triad?”. There is a table listing 8 eponymous syndromes that involve the vagus nerve, of which this reviewer could only recognise a single one.

This then is a large paperback and excellent value for money (especially at the reduced price quoted on Amazon, at the time of writing this review). I really do think that this book is more appropriately targeted at what we used to call “Junior Doctors” but now “Doctors in Training” and it carries a very useful postgraduate content. Of course I am assuming that medical students in India emerge from their training schools as ignorant of our subject as do their UK peers. If this is truly an undergraduate curriculum, then it is very impressive indeed.

Amazon Link: Textbook of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery: A Competency-Based Approach for Undergraduates
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