Clinical books that a pediatric resident needs to read

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When I started preparation for my DNB practical exams, the first question was, where to start from and which clinical books I should refer to.

It is not that, I didn't touch the clinical books in the beginning, but it was strictly on a need-to-know basis and without the focus on clinical exams which were waiting for me at the end of 3 years. Doing things early and in an organized way is the first mandate to clear exams like DNB.

I learned from my experiences and advice from the teacher and seniors, eventually over the period. The problem of not knowing which books for what, definitely results in spending more time.

It is never a wastage of time to read the same topics from different books, in fact, it's more constructive, but when the exam is 3 or 4 months away, it is not advisable. If you are well ahead of time, probably this post is not for you.

To avoid you going through that ordeal of frustration, let me share with you, what all books I read for my practical exam in Pediatrics. If things have changed, I would love to know from you guys. Let us all know what books you have read.

I have no financial benefits to reveal, for any of these books and their authors or the publishers. I am not endorsing any of these books.

Even though this discussion is for Clinical books only and I cannot exclude Nelson's textbook of pediatrics. It is our bible. Nelson tremendously helps in discussing differentials in Viva. Its charts help a lot in explaining the causes of a certain disorder in Viva questions. Say for example, what are the causes of the genetic syndrome with organomegaly or cause of stroke in children.

Unfortunately, we cling over to Nelson so much, we forget about the books for clinical pediatrics. Make sure you avoid this, I couldn't. The following list might also be helpful for the guys who have recently joined a pediatric residency in India, including both MDs and DNBs.

Coming over to the main topic, The Clinical pediatric books. The market is full of such books and one is not superior over the other in entirety. What is important for us is to choose wisely one or two books for one format.

Let us review 8 fantastic books that I read for Pediatrics practical exam.

Pediatric clinical examination, by A Santosh Kumar

pediatric clinical examination santosh kumar
My take-small but power-packed. Good for understanding clinical signs, dysmorphism etc. Not so good for viva questions, differentials, and diagnosing.

Pediatric clinical examination by Santosh Kumar is one on the must-have list. I have my own reason, it's the thinnest one!

Even though it might appear thick, trust me. It's the one which can be revised multiple time. Reason- It uses very simple to understand language and it is very comprehensive. It covers almost all aspects of clinical examination without making tangent to other topics.

Nothing can be as easy to understand as in Santosh Kumars for clinical examinations. The part of ‘how to examine’ and what is the logic behind it, is great yet simple. I still remember how it explains ‘symmetric tonic reflex’.

The cardiovascular system is given amazingly. “Why this happens” is explained almost everywhere. The general examination is again very good.

The respiratory system is not that detailed.

The good part is, it also gives you a feel of OSCE. It is the first book that orientated me to the OSCE exams. Not only that the OSCEs given in this book are actually high yield but also commonly asked.

Having said that, this book somewhat loses its capability to train you after the topic of the physical examination. For developing the ability to produce differential and an approach toward a particular case you will need other books.

Final words, small but power-packed. Good for understanding clinical signs, dysmorphism. Not so good for history taking, differentials, and diagnosing.

Clinical Pediatrics - History taking and Case discussion, Aruchami Laxmanswami

Aruchami laxmanswami pediatric clinical books
My take - Heavy dose, start early with Aruchami if you want to revise from this one.

Very heavy dose! The book's weight speaks for itself. Covers almost everything about the possible viva questions on the case, though the general examination is given nicely I will still prefer the previous book.

The physical quality and feel of the book are of international standards. The respiratory system is given in detail as compared to Santosh Kumar. But one system that stands out of others is the Gastrointestinal system. No other book has such an in-depth explanation of symptomatology.

Another pro is the charts and tables. Numerous charts, almost on every page. A bit more theoretical than conceptual, but that makes it a must-read for answering viva questions.

Clinical Pediatrics by NC Joshi

N C Joshi clinical pediatrics
My take - Conceptualize clinical fundas of pediatrics with this one

Earlier in the start, I mentioned how I didn't refer much to the clinical books at the beginning of my training, this is one is an exception though. I read and liked it from the beginning.

Highly conceptualized book. Each page is a concept forming episode. You can start randomly from any page. The approach to anemias, approach to endocrine disorders are so amazing that you are less likely to forget them in exams.

Book teaches you how should you proceed to diagnose a particular ailment in real practice as well! There are a lot of pictures that should help in OSCE as well.

There is a separate chapter for X-rays which gives you a fair basic idea. So rather than a Facebook post on how to interpret chest X-rays, this one is good to go.

This book will also help in writing theory answers especially the “How will you approach” type of questions.

Scotts Pedia-Tricks by Julius Scott

Scotts pediatrics
Scotts Pedia-Tricks is all about how to present a particular case plus it also gives you a fair amount of theory needed for answering viva questions on a case to case basis.

This is a savior for those who have not presented too many cases before or had got no opportunities. Nothing like presenting cases and getting your mistakes corrected actively, before the exam and off-course throughout PG tenure. But this one is definitely your virtual or rather passive case presentation guide.

Not that detailed for Viva as Aruchami but this one is very point-to-point as if the real viva which makes revising Scotts easier than Aruchymi.

With the backup of Aruchyami Laxmanswami, you can gather enough knowledge on how and what exactly to answer those tricky viva questions.

Cerebral palsy is given very nicely and systematically which is the most important case in the exam. This requires a mention that there is a 90% percent chance that one of your CNS cases will be cerebral palsy.

One last thing, it has a good section covering vaccines, instruments, and drugs kept for OSCE and viva questions.

There is a dedicated page on advice and psychological preparation for pediatric clinical exams. Here are some important tips for the exam. here is More on kits for clinical examination in pediatrics.

OSCE in Pediatrics by RG Holla

Hola OSCE pediatric clinical books
My take - It orients you to OSCE, Start from the book before moving on to online and offline material

There are so many alternatives to learn OSCE now, including online sources like this blog. But OSCE in Pediatrics by RG Holla was the first OSCE only book in the Indian market, that I am aware of.

This book is entirely for OSCE. OSCE questions are divided system-wise so you get oriented to every system. It's a more systemic approach to learn OSCE, I feel.

Even though OSCE questions are random, be systematic to prepare, use such books first, and then move on to online or offline materials gathered.

The book orients you to the exam as both observed and unobserved spots are given separately. Very high yielding OSCEs.

Common is always common, So don’t miss out on this one. I don't know whether there are any better Indian textbooks for Pediatrics OSCE, If you know any mention them in the comments.

Don't expect the exact OSCE question in the exam as in the book, but once you know the pattern on which these questions are based, it not very difficult to crack them, even when you don't have an exact answer.

I feel the OSCE from this book and Santosh Kumar must be ready before you proceed to other OSCE collections (Find a section of OSCE material here on the website.)

Approach to practical pediatrics by Manish Narang

approach to practial pediatrics
To be honest, I read only a couple of initial pages of this book.

It has a lot of OSCE stations given, especially drugs and instruments. Cases are given fine but not very detailed as compared to the above Scotts and Aruchami. X-rays are also included so it can add to your collection of OSCE on imaging.

Nothing much to say, but if you have read this book, share what you feel about it in the comments. Moving on to the next one...

Practical aspects of pediatrics by Mayoor Chheda

Chedda pediatric clinical books
My take - The clinical cases are given nicely, I find it somewhat similar to Scotts Pediatrics. You get oriented to various case presentations.

The practical aspect, by  Mayoor Chheda, is a good book. I liked one particular thing, that is the descriptive way of presenting the final diagnosis of the case. This is probably what examiners expect from us.

The respiratory System is given very well. CVS is comprehensive. One topic which specifically tempts me from this book is the approach to microcephaly, it is fantabulous, see for urself.

100+ Clinical cases in pediatrics by R Arvind

100 clinical cases in pediatrics

My take - Good orientation on how should you actually talk while presenting a particular case.

Clinical cases are given straight forward. It's simply given as if you are presenting the case, So while reading it you maintain the same tempo as if presenting the case in reality.

Good exercise if you have time, but nothing like presenting a case by yourself, making mistakes, and correcting them.


Start with Santosh Kumar to begin, and revise all your MBBS knowledge of signs and symptoms, the significance of the clinical signs, etc. One thing I forgot, is to mention about Hutchinsons. Use it whenever in doubt about clinical examination or elicitation of signs.

For case, presentations use Scotts Pedia-Tricks and Chheda.

Prepare viva questions and answers from Aruchyami Laxmanswami, NC Joshi, Nelson.

For OSCE use Hola, Santosh Kumar, and Manish Narang.

So that is all I know about the books which I read during my preparation and I still have them :)

There are many other excellent books like M.L. Kulkarni ( 4 parts). But since I haven't read them, I don't know how these books are. You may have used other books or might have different views on these books which I would love to know. I am sure your opinions will be of great help, even more so, for the beginners who have just started their training.

Leave your comments and corrections below. watch this space for more tips for exams. Keep reading.

Must Read

  1. Pediatric Clinical examination Kit - Before going to the exam hall
  2. OSCE in Pediatrics - All posts
  3. Exam Corner - Collection of useful post for exam going
  4. History taking cases and Viva
  5. Tips for exam - From the examiner
  6. Practical exam tips - Your body- language

About Author

Ajay Agade | DNB FNB Fellowship in Pediatric pulmonology

Ajay is a Paediatric Intensivist, currently working in Pediatric Respirology & LTV at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS, London