Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Vikas Bhushan and Tao Le: Who Are The Authors Of First Aid For USMLE Step 1?

Given what I found out about Dale Dubin, I have started to become more curious about these people who write these 'amazing' review books. What makes them so qualified to tell me what to study and what not to? Who are they? What do they have to hide? Okay, fine, so most of them are just residents and physicians, but it's interesting to note that while some are leaders in their fields, others are just known solely due to their review books. I guess they just took really good notes back in med school.

At any rate, nearly everyone who takes Step I ends up using First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, and with good reason. The book is a concise, yet fairly thorough, review of most of the concepts covered on the test. We all read the book, but who wrote it? I have the 2006 edition, which lists 4 authors, but I'm most curious about the first two: Vikas Bhushan and Tao Le.

According to McGraw-Hill Australia:
Vikas Bhushan, MD is a practicing diagnostic radiologist based in Los Angeles, California. Tao T. Le, MD is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Pediatrics at University of Louisville; and Assistant Professor in Medicine, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
So, Dr. Bhushan is a radiologist. Cool. But really, is that the whole story? According to this pdf, Dr. Bhushan is also a "world-renowned author, publisher, [and] entrepreneur."

Vikas Bhushan, MD, is chief executive officer and cofounder of Dr Bhushan is a worldrenowned author, publisher, entrepreneur, and board-certified diagnostic radiologist who resides in Los Angeles. Dr Bhushan conceived and authored the original First Aid for the US Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 in 1992, which, after 10 consecutive editions, has become the most popular medical review book in the world. Following this, he coauthored 3 additional First Aid books and led the development of the highly acclaimed 17-title Underground Clinical Vignettes series. He was an active researcher in medical informatics and digital radiology and completed his training in diagnostic radiology at the University of California. Over the course of his career, he has worked directly with dozens of medical school faculty members, colleagues, and consultants and corresponded with more than a thousand medical students from around the world. Dr. Bhushan earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MD with thesis from the University of California, San Francisco.
Is it just me, or is every physician you ever hear about "world-renowned" in some way? But, I should give him props: apparently he has 200,000 books in print and has raised millions for in venture capital for his start-up companies. So, yea, props, Dr. B. Anyway, what about Dr. Le?

Apparently, he co-wrote First Aid while a resident at Yale. What is up with Yale being the place to go if you want your notes turned into review books? Shoo, if I were there, I'd just take meticulous notes for everything and then try to pimp them out to publishers. Get me on that med review book gravy train.

Alright, I guess I should be taking meticulous notees anyway, and I suppose this wasn't as interesting as an expose on Dale Dubin. I still have my doubts though. Obviously these guys have done well for themselves, but did they actually do well on the Step exams? Is this like the 270+ Club? C'mon, release your scores! The public demands it!

Updated 2015-12-07


  1. I'll bet that this guy (Bhushan) is making MUCH more money through his review books, software companies, & other entrepreneurial ventures than through his physician job.

    He's actually progressed far beyond the average wage slave in self-actualization: In the latest edition of First Aid, he states in his bio that he tries to avoid a day job as much as possible. He translates Urdu poetry and has made a music documentary. He's also a teleradiologist now and "divides" his time between Maui and other "balmy remote locales with abundant bandwidth." (Gotta love that phrase "divide my time between X & Y" -- it's the ultimate in I'm-better-than-you intellectual snobbery.) So, he's actually trying to get as far away from medicine as he can.

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  3. I found your post interesting! Interestingly a third name on all these books is a Chirag Amin, MD. Supposedly claims to be an orthopaedic surgeon. However, he has some medi-spa in Riverside, CA and is practicing cosmetic medicine. Nowhere is there proof that he actually finished his orthopaedic residency nor is he listed on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon website but he calls himself an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Interesting... He's probably sitting back and chilling, collecting royalties on all those books! That's the way to go....

  4. Haha, nice. Chirag Amin, eh? If I have some spare time one day, perhaps I'll look into it as well.

  5. this post is some bitter, egotistical medical student. first off, being an "authority" or "world class" researcher doesn't necessarily qualify someone to be a good teacher or a good board review author. second of all, why the hell should you know anything about who these authors are other than the fact that they have put together a great board review resource that nearly every student in the world uses? judge the resource by its content and the reviews of other people who have succeeded using them - not on the authors. youre a freakin moron.



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