A Piece of My Mind, by JAMA, edited by Roxanne K. Young. Copyright 2005
The majority of the essays are revealing personal vignettes, exploring such topics as the dynamics of the patient-physician relationship, but some of the most touching are written from the patient's perspective. All the pieces are engrossing, most are moving, and a few are humorous. The book should be read by anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the human experience regarding health, disease, death, and healing.
About Alice, by Calvin Trillin. Copyright 2006
In Calvin Trillin's antic tales of family life, she was portrayed as the wife who had "a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day" and the mother who thought that if you didn't go to every performance of your child's school play, "the county would come and take the child." Now, five years after her death, her husband offers this loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page -- his loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page -- an educator who was equally at home teaching at a University or a drug treatment center, a gifted writer, a stunningly beautiful and thoroughly engaged woman who, in the words of a friend, "managed to navigate the tricky waters between living a life you could be proud of and still delighting in the many things there are to take pleasure in."
Anatomy of an Illness, by Norman Cousins, PhD. Copyright 1979
This is the book that showed how attitude can help patients and that a patient needs to be proactive about his/her care.
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy. Copyright 2003
After a childhood illness & surgery left her jaw disfigured, it took the author 20 years of living with a distorted self-image & more than 30 reconstructive procedures before coming to terms with her appearance. A poignant, powerful, & ultimately liberating memoir.
Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, by Carl Elliott. Copyright 2003
Elliott's absorbing account will make readers think again about the ways that science shapes our personal identities."—American Scientist Americans have always been the world's most anxiously enthusiastic consumers of "enhancement technologies." Prozac, Viagra, and Botox injections are only the latest manifestations of a familiar pattern: enthusiastic adoption, public hand-wringing, an occasional congressional hearing, and calls for self-reliance. In a brilliant diagnosis of our reactions to self-improvement technologies, Carl Elliott asks questions that illuminate deep currents in the American character: Why do we feel uneasy about these drugs, procedures, and therapies even while we embrace them? Where do we draw the line between self and society? Why do we seek self-realization in ways so heavily influenced by cultural conformity?
The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable.
Body Language: Poems of the Medical Training Experience, edited by Neeta Jain, Dagan Coppock and Stephanie Brown Clark. Copyright 2006
In Body Language physicians and medical students chronicle their challenging, often harrowing experiences. The anthology is broken into six sections: Medical Student, First Year; Second Year; Clinical Years; Intern; Resident; and Attending. Other anthologies have featured poems about medicine and healthcare, but the approach of this collection of poems written by doctors-in-training proceeding step-by-step through the medical training experience-is unique in medical literature. By presenting physicians who are also skilled poets addressing a diverse range of medical situations, Body Language offers fascinating insights into the inner world of people who regularly face life-and-death decisions.
Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association, 2006-2007 Edition. Copyright 2006
The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics is the most comprehensive ethics guide for physicians. The definitive authority on medical professionalism, the Code was first developed in 1847 and undergoes regular revisions.
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande. Copyright 2002
In vivid accounts of true cases, surgeon Atul Gawande explores the power and the limits of medicine, offering an unflinching view from the scalpel’s edge. A complication lay bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is—uncertain, perplexing, and profoundly human.
Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business and Bad Medicine, by Donald l. Bartlett & James B. Steele. Copyright 2004
In CRITICAL CONDITION, award-winning investigative journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele expose the horror of what health care in America has become. They profile patients and doctors trapped by the system and offer startling personal stories that illuminate what’s gone wrong. Doctors tell of being second-guessed and undermined by health care insurers; nurses recount chilling tales of hospital meltdowns; patients explain how they’ve been victimized by a system that is meant to care for them. Drug companies profit by selling pills in the same manner that Madison Avenue sells soap, while Wall Street rakes in billions by building up and then tearing down health care businesses. And politicians pass legislation perpetuating the injustices and out-right fraud the system encourages.
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, edited by Lawrence E. Harrison & Samuel P Huntington. Copyright 2000
An important look at why some countries and ethnic groups are better off than others, and the role that cultural values play in the shaping of nations' and peoples' political, economic and social performance Prominent scholars and journalists ponder the question of why, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world is more divided than ever between the rich and the poor, between those living in freedom and those under oppression.
Cutting Remarks, by Sidney M. Schwab, MD. Copyright 2006
The most dramatic – and seemingly glamorous – of medical fields, surgery captivates the public's imagination. Written for inquisitive layman as well as anyone in the medical profession, this fascinating first-person account documents the career of one of America's top surgeons. Readers accompany Sidney Schwab through medical school at Case Western Reserve University; internship; junior and senior residencies (with a detour to Vietnam, where he won a Purple Heart); and finally his chief residency years in San Francisco. With humor and poignancy and sometimes graphic detail, Schwab recalls memorable surgeries, surgeons, and patients. He takes care to explain, in understandable and interesting fashion, a variety of diseases, medical issues, and surgical techniques. More than just a memoir, Cutting Remarks offers a compelling look at how trauma and surgery are handled at a major hospital, and provides valuable insight into a surgeon's relationship with both peers and patients.
Dialogues: Reflections on Medicine, Humanism, And Professionalism: A Publication of the Master Scholars Program, Inaugural Edition, Fall 2002
A Tribute to September 11, 2001
Final Exam: A Surgeons Reflection on Mortality, by Pauline W. Chen. Copyright 2007
A brilliant young transplant surgeon brings moral intensity and narrative drama to the most powerful and vexing questions of medicine and the human condition. When Pauline Chen began medical school twenty years ago, she dreamed of saving lives. What she did not count on was how much death would be a part of her work. Almost immediately, Chen found herself wrestling with medicine's most profound paradox, that a profession premised on caring for the ill also systematically depersonalizes dying. Final Exam follows Chen over the course of her education, training, and practice as she grapples at strikingly close range with the problem of mortality, and struggles to reconcile the lessons of her training with her innate knowledge of shared humanity, and to separate her ideas about healing from her fierce desire to cure.
First, Do No Harm, by Lisa Belkin. Copyright 1993
"A powerful, true story of life and death in a major metropolitan hospital...Harrowing... An important book." THE NEW YORK TIMES
What is life worth? And what is a life worth living? At a time when America faces vital choices about the future of its health care, former NEW YORK TIMES correspondent Lisa Belkin takes a powerful and poignant look at the inner workings of Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, telling the remarkable, real-life stories of the doctors, patients, families, and hospital administrators who must ask—and ultimately answer—the most profound and heart-rending questions about life and death.
Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure, by Charles L. Bosk. Copyright 1979, 2003
Featuring an extensive new preface, epilogue, and appendix by the author that reflect on the changes that have taken place since the book's original publication, the updated second edition of this definitive study of the training and lives of young surgeons is as timely as ever.
Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit, by Norman Cousins, PhD Copyright 1989
Anatomy of an Illness, a pioneering account of his triumph over a severe illness, Norman Cousins recounted in aspiring detail the helpful effect that positive attitudes and a partnership with his physician had on his recovery. His personal experience led Cousins to an unusual quest: the search for proof that hope, faith, laughter, and the will to live are biochemical factors that can actually help combat serious illness.
Drawing on his experience as a faculty member at the UCLA School of Medicine and on hundreds of interviews with doctors, patients, medical students, and research scientists, Cousins provides the exciting medical evidence he helped uncover. He shows how an optimistic outlook and a strong relationship with your doctor can make illness less painful and increase your chances of survival. Good medicine for doctors and patients alike, Head First will restore your faith in the healing powers of the human spirit.
Health Against Wealth: HMO's and the Breakdown of Medical Trust, by George Anders. Copyright 1996
Health Insurance spending restrictions known as managed care are sweeping through the U.S., often praised for cutting runaway medical costs. This book reveals how all those cost saving rules can turn against you, sometimes putting lives at risk.
How Doctor's Think, by Jerome Groopman, M.D. Copyright 2007
Michael Crichton - The New York Times Sunday Book Review
This elegant, tough-minded book recounts stories about how doctors and patients interact with one other. In the hands of Jerome Groopman, professor of medicine at Harvard and a staff writer for The New Yorker, these clinical episodes make absorbing reading and are often deeply affecting. At the same time, the author is commenting on some of the most profound problems facing modern medicine … Here is Groopman at the peak of his form, as a physician and as a writer. Readers will relish the result.
Imagine What It’s Like, Edited by Ruth Nadelhaft with Victoria Bonebakker. Copyright 2008
A Literature and Medicine Anthology
The Intern Blues, by Robert Marion, MD. Copyright 1989
While supervising a small group of interns at a major New York Medical Center, Dr. Robert Marion asked three of them to keep a careful diary over the course of a year. Andy, Mark, and Amy vividly describe their real-life lessons in treating very sick children; confronting child abuse and the awful human impact of the AIDS epidemic; skirting the indifference of the hospital bureaucracy; and overcoming their own fears, insecurities, and constant fatigue. Their stories are harrowing and often funny; their personal triumph is unforgettable.
This updated edition of The Intern Blues includes a new preface from the author discussing the status of medical training in America today and a new afterword updating the reader on the lives of the three young interns who first shared their stories with readers more than a decade ago.
Intoxicated By My Illness, by Anatole Broyard. Copyright 1992
Anatole Broyard, long-time book critic, book review editor, and essayist for The New York Times wants to be remembered. He will be, with this collection of irreverent, humorous essays he wrote concerning the ordeals of life and death-many of which were written during the battle with cancer that led to his death.
Kitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Remen, MD. Copyright 1994
Praised by everyone from Bernie Siegel to Daniel Goleman to Larry Dossey, Rachel Remen has a unique perspective on healing rooted in her background as a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist, and a long-term survivor of chronic illness. In a deeply moving and down-to-earth collection of true stories, this prominent physician shows us life in all its power and mystery and reminds us that the things we cannot measure may be the things that ultimately sustain and enrich our lives.
Learning to Play God: The Coming Of Age Of A Young Doctor, by Robert Marion, M.D. Copyright 1991
Do you know what your doctor really thinks or how your doctor really feels about medicine and about you? The seeds lie in the critical first few years of a medical education, and Dr. Robert Marion, director of the Center for Congenital Disorders at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, draws from his own experience as student, intern, and resident to provide some surprising-and sobering-answers.
In the course of twenty gripping, illuminating, and extraordinarily candid stories, Dr. Marion reveals the dehumanizing, slightly insane, and often brutal process of medical training. You will experience not only the intense pressure and chronic exhaustion of the doctor-to be, but also the price the patient must often pay. While each story stands alone as an adventure in medicine, taken together they are a call to change. With profound compassion, Dr. Marion explores ways in which to assure that humanity and idealism survive the grueling and destructive path to technical competency.
Living, Loving & Learning, by Leo F. Buscaglia, PhD. Copyright 1982
Is a delightful collection of Dr. Buscaglia’s informative and amusing lectures, which were delivered worldwide between 1970 and 1981. This inspirational treasure is for all those eager to accept the challenge of life and to profit from the wonder of love.
Love, Medicine and Miracles, by Bernie M. Siegel, MD. Copyright 1986
Unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system. The truth is: love heals. Miracles happen to exceptional patients every day--patients who have the courage to love, those who have the courage to work with their doctors to participate in and influence their own recovery.
Loving Each Other, by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D
“Loving relationships, though necessary for life, health, and growth, is among the most complicated skills.
Before we can be successful at achieving relationships, it is necessary that we broaden our understanding of how they work, what they mean, and how what we do and believe can enhance or destroy them… “It’s up to us to give our relationships a chance. There is nothing greater in life than loving another and being loved in return, for loving is the ultimate of experiences.”
Measuring Medical Professionalism, edited by David Thomas Stern. Copyright 2006
Patients who are confident of physicians' intellectual and technical abilities are sometimes not convinced of their professional behavior. Systemic and anecdotal cases of physician misconduct, conflict of interest, and self-interest abound. Many have even come to mistrust physicians as patient advocates. How can patients trust the intellectual and technical aspects of medical care, but not the professional? In order to enhance and promote professionalism in medicine, one should expect it, encourage it, and evaluate it. By measuring their own professional behavior, physicians can provide the kind of transparency with which they can regain the trust of patients and society. Not only patients, but also institutions which accredit organizations have demanded accountability of physicians in their professional behavior. While there has been much lament and a few strong proposals for improving professionalism, no single reliable and valid measure of the success of these proposals exists. This book is a theory-to-practice text focused on ways to evaluate professional behavior written by leaders in the field of medical education and assessment.
Medical Process and Social Reality: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature, edited by Lillian R. Furst. Published 2000
Medical Progress and Social Reality is an anthology of nineteenth-century literature on medicine and medical practice. Situated at the interdisciplinary juncture of medicine, history, and literature, it includes mostly fictional but also some nonfictional works by British, French, American, and Russian writers that describe the day-today social realities of medicine during a period of momentous change.
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Introduction by, Gregory Hays. Copyright 2002
A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written.
Mortal Lessons, by Richard Seltzer, MD. Published January, 1996
In this collection of nineteen unforgettable essays, Dr. Richard Selzer describes unsparingly the surgeon's art, opening up the body to view, one part at a time. Both moving and perversely funny, Mortal Lessons is an established classic that considers not only the workings and misworkings of the human body, but also the meaning of life and death. And although Dr. Selzer's dark humor makes the burgeoning tumors and ulcerations of his essays more bearable, he is frank about the mysterious and dreaded inevitable - the sometime surprise, as he calls it, at the center of surgery: death. Behind his traditional "surgeon's arrogance" the reader will find endearing self-mockery, a very real empathy for his patients, and the ready suggestion that even the surgeon is still very small when he stands before nature.
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracey Kidder. Copyright 2003
In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Tracy Kidder’s magnificent account shows how one person can make a difference in solving global health problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems, and disease. Profound and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes people’s minds through his dedication to the philosophy that ‘the only real nation is humanity.”
My Grandfather's Blessings, by Rachel Remen, MD. Copyright 2000
It was Rachel Remen's grandfather, an Orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kaballah, who enabled her to see that blessing one another is what heals the isolation and loneliness in us all. He didn't do this by running out every week to volunteer somewhere. He did it by living life knowing that he belonged to it--that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone.
Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Medicine, by Rita Charon. Published March, 2006
Narrative medicine has emerged in response to a commoditized health care system that places corporate and bureaucratic concerns over the needs of the patient. Generated from a confluence of sources including humanities and medicine, primary care medicine, narratology, and the study of doctor-patient relationships, narrative medicine is medicine practiced with the competence to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness. By placing events in temporal order, with beginnings, middles, and ends, and by establishing connections among things using metaphor and figural language, narrative medicine helps doctors to recognize patients and diseases, convey knowledge, accompany patients through the ordeals of illness--and according to Rita Charon, can ultimately lead to more humane, ethical, and effective health care. Trained in medicine and in literary studies, Rita Charon is a pioneer of and authority on the emerging field of narrative medicine. In this important and long-awaited book she provides a comprehensive and systematic introduction to the conceptual principles underlying narrative medicine, as well as a practical guide for implementing narrative methods in health care. A true milestone in the field, it will interest general readers, and experts in medicine and humanities, and literary theory.
On Call: A Doctor's Day's and Nights in Residency, by Emily Transue. Copyright 2004
On Call begins with a newly-minted doctor checking in for her first day of residency wearing the long white coat of an MD and being called "Doctor" for the first time. Having studied at Yale and Dartmouth, Dr. Emily Transue arrives in Seattle to start her internship in Internal Medicine just after graduating from medical school. This series of loosely interconnected scenes from the author's medical training concludes her residency three years later.
On Death and Dying, by Elizabeth Kubler- Ross. Copyright 1969
One of the most famous psychological studies of the late twentieth century, On Death and Dying grew out of an interdisciplinary seminar on death, originated and conducted by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. In On Death and Dying, Dr. Kübler-Ross first introduced and explored the now-famous idea of the five stages of dealing with death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. With sample interviews and conversations, she gives the reader a better understanding of how imminent death affects the patient, the professionals who serve the patient, and the patient's family, bringing hope, solace, and peace of mind to all involved.
On Doctoring: Stories, Poems and Essays, edited by Richard Reynold's, MD and John Stone MD.Copyright 1991
This newly expanded edition of On Doctoring is an extraordinary collection of stories, poems, and essays written by physicians and non-physicians alike—works that eloquently record what it is like to be sick, to be cured, to lose, or to triumph. Drawing on the full spectrum of human emotions, the editors have included selections from such important and diverse writers as Anton Chekhov, W.H. Auden, William Carlos Williams, John Keats, John Donne, Robert Coles, Pablo Neruda, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Abraham Verghese. Among the new authors included in this edition are Rainer Maria Rilke, Lisel Mueller, and May Sarton.
In this era of managed healthcare, when medicine is becoming more institutionalized and impersonal, this book recaptures the breadth and the wonder of the medical profession. Presenting the issues, concerns, and challenges facing doctors and patients alike, On Doctoring is at once illuminating and provocative, a compelling record of the human spirit.
Our Lords, the Sick: McGovern Lectures in the History of Medicine and Medical Humanism, edited by Lawrence d. Longo. Copyright 2004
Eighteen essays, by eminent physicians, historians, and educators, discuss the philosophy and ethics of health care, ministering to the sick, and professionalism. The essays were developed from annual lectures delivered to members of the American Osler Society, a group devoted to the promotion of medical history and medical humanism; the editor teaches medicine at Loma Linda U. in California.
Power vs. Force, by David R.Hawkins, MD, PhD. Copyright 1995
David R. Hawkins details how anyone may resolve the most crucial of all human dilemmas: how to instantly determine the truth or falsehood of any statement or supposed fact. Dr. Hawkins, who worked as a "healing psychiatrist" during his long and distinguished career, uses theoretical concepts from particle physics, nonlinear dynamics, and chaos theory to support his study of human behavior. This is a fascinating work that will intrigue readers from all walks of life!
The Anatomy of Hope, by Jerome Groopman, M.D. Copyright 2004
Why do some people find and sustain hope during difficult circumstances, while others do not? What can we learn from those who do, and how is their example applicable to our own lives? The Anatomy of Hope spans some thirty years of Dr. Jerome Groopman’s practice. Through encounters with many extraordinary people, he sought to answer these questions. This journey of inspiring discovery began when Groopman was a medical student, ignorant of the vital role of hope in patients-lives and it culminates in his remarkable quest to delineate biology of hope.
The Blood of Strangers, by Frank Huyler, MD. Copyright 1999
Reminiscent of Chekhov's stories, The Blood of Strangers is a visceral portrayal of a physician's encounters with the highly charged world of an emergency room. In this collection of spare and elegant stories, Dr. Frank Huyler reveals a side of medicine where small moments--the intricacy of suturing a facial wound, the bath a patient receives from her husband and daughter--interweave with the lives and deaths of the desperately sick and injured.
The Celebration of Life: A Dialogue on Hope, Spirit, and the Immortality of the Soul, by Norman Cousins, PhD. Copyright 1974
In this thought-provoking and unusual book, Cousins takes on a subject no less than immortality itself and shows how we can realize it here and now, every moment of our daily lives. Written in a unique dialogue form, The Celebration of Life is a compelling conversational survey of modern science, philosophy, religion, physics, politics, ecology, and the biology of the human spirit that supports his view that our one hope for the future—and our own immortality—rests in the recognition of our common humanity..
Lucid and lyric, informational and inspirational, The Celebration of Life is Norman Cousin's lasting testament to the human spirit and its indefatigable instinct for lasting meaning in a temporal world.
The Continuing Professional Development of Physicians, Edited by Dave Davis, MD, Barbara E. Barnes, MD and Robert Fox, EdD, Copyright 2003 by the American Medical Association.
The continuing professional development (CPD) of physicians, formerly called continuing medical education, greatly expands what physicians can do with the help of educational experts to provide optimal care. The Continuing Professional Development of Physicians takes the concept of CPD and turns it from theory into practice as an agent for positive physician performance change.
The Elephant Man, by Christine Sparks. Copyright 1980
John Merrick had lived for more than twenty years imprisoned in a body that condemned him to a miserable life in the workhouse and to humiliation as a circus sideshow freak. But beneath that tragic exterior, within that enormous head, thrived the soul of a poet, the heart of a dreamer, the longings of a man. Merrick was doomed to suffer forever- until the kind Dr. Treves gave him the first real home in the London Hospital and the town’s most beautiful and esteemed actress made possible Merrick’s cherished dream of human contact- and love.
The Gifts Of The Body, by Rebecca Brown. Copyright 1994
The unnamed narrator of The Gifts of the Body is a home-care worker who assists people with AIDS. From Rick to Mrs. Lindstrom to Marty and Carlos and back again, she takes us on her rounds, telling us their stories as she cooks their meals, cleans their houses, does their laundry, helps them bathe - that is, she does what she can, in the end all there is to do, becoming their companion in the everyday gestures that sustain life in the face of death. "All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them," Isak Dinesen said. Rebecca Brown has written a brave, true story about dying and death, in language so spare and direct that you don't notice its power until your stomach knots and your eyes fill with tears. Her narrator is a person driven by the need to honor the people she cares for, in all their dignity, all their frailty, all their humanity. She is a person who knows what it is like to watch someone
you love die. And in that knowing, in its perfect rendering on the page, is release - the gift of mourning, the gift of bearing the deepest and most final sorrow.
The Girl Who Died Twice: The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals, by Natalie Robins. Copyright 1995
On March 4, 1984, 18-year-old Libby Zion was taken by her parents to New York Hospital with a fever and flu-like symptoms. Eight hours later she was dead. Her case made headlines across the country and led to sweeping reforms in the rules governing hospitals in America and abroad. Robin's presents the inside story of this compelling modern tragedy, and delivers the truth about Libby's life and death. Photos.
The House of God, by Samuel Shem. Copyright 1978
Now a classic! The hilarious novel of the healing arts that reveals everything your doctor never wanted you to know. Six eager interns - they saw themselves as modern saviors-to-be. They came from the top of their medical school class to the bottom of the hospital staff to serve a year in the time-honored tradition, racing to answer the flash of on-duty call lights and nubile nurses. But only the Fat Man -the Clam, all-knowing resident - could sustain them in their struggle to survive, to stay sane, to love-and even to be doctors when their harrowing year was done.
The Magician's Assistant, by Ann Patchett. Copyright 1997
A secretive magician's death becomes the catalyst for his partner's journey of self-discovery in this enchanting book (San Francisco Chronicle) that is something of a magic trick in itself-a 1990s love story with the grace and charm of a nineteenth-century novel (Newsweek).
The Philosophy of Humanism, by Corliss Lamont. Copyright 1949
In a work that has become a standard text and reference in the ongoing national debate that swirls around secular humanism, Lamont offers a vigorous argument for a philosophy that advocates happiness in this life rather than hope for a heaven in afterlife.
The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death, edited by Susan Pories, MD, Sachin H. Jain. Copyright 2006
By the time most of us meet our doctors, they’ve been in practice for a number of years. Often they seem aloof, uncaring, and hurried. Of course, they’re not all like that, and most didn’t start out that way.
Here are voices of third-year students just as they begin to take on clinical responsibilities. Their words focus on the odd transition student's face when they must deal with real people in real time and in real crises and when they must learn to put aside their emotions to make quick, accurate, and sensitive decisions. Their decisions aren’t always right, and the consequences can be life-altering—for all involved. Moving, disturbing, and candid, their true stories show us a side of the profession that few ever see, or could even imagines. They show, often painfully, how medical students grow up, right at the bedside.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman. Copyright 1998
Brilliantly reported and beautifully crafted, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between the Merced Community Medical Center in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy.
The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence. Copyright 1964
This first of the five "Manawaka novels" (set in the fictional prairie town of Manawaka), the story of Hagar Shipley -- whose rigid pride costs her everything she loves -- has been taught in high school curricula in Canada for over twenty-five years and has never gone out of print. As the novel opens, the 90-year-old Hagar discovers that her middle-aged son Marvin and his fussy wife Doris intend to place her in a nursing home. Determined not to bend to anyone else's will, she ponders the circuitous path that has led her to the house she shares with them in Vancouver and plots her escape, ultimately spending a wild, hallucinatory night in a deserted canning factory. The motherless daughter of a stern, wealthy storekeeper, Hagar had been schooled in pride and contempt from early childhood. When, on a stubborn whim, she married a rough farmer 14 years her senior, her father disowned her and she and her family gradually descended into bitter poverty. Hagar waged a fierce domestic war with her hard-drinking husband Bram and closed her heart to her first-born son Marvin, giving all her attention to her youngest son John, who she mistakenly saw as meant for better things. She left Bram to settle in Vancouver with John but eventually followed her grown son home to Manawaka where she meddled tragically in his happiness. Only at the end of her life does she realize how much she is like the sightless stone angel that her father erected above her mother's grave.
To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, edited by Linda T. Kohn, Janet M. Corrigan, and Molla S.Donaldson. Copyright 2000
Experts estimate that as many as 98,000 people die in any given year from medical errors that occur in hospitals. That's more than die from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS—three causes that receive far more public attention. Indeed, more people die annually from medication errors alone than from workplace injuries. And, although errors may be more easily detected in hospitals, the problems extend to every health care setting, including day-surgery and outpatient clinics, retail pharmacies, nursing homes and home care. And the financial cost to the human tragedy and medical error easily raises to the top ranks of urgent, widespread health problems.
Faced with these stunning statistics, the Institute of Medicine has initiated a project to examine the issues and recommend rigorous changes in American health care. First in the series of publications from the Quality of Health Care in America project, To Err Is Human breaks the silence that has surrounded medical errors and their consequences -- but not by pointing fingers at caring health care professionals who make honest mistakes. After all, to err is human. Instead, this book sets forth a national agenda -- with state and local implications -- for reducing medical errors and improving patient safety through the design of a safer health system.
What I Learned in Medical School: Personal Stories of Young Doctors, edited by Kevin M. Takakuwa, Nick Rubashkin, and Karen E. Zerzig. Copyright 2004
A group of vivid, first-person stories of medical students who don't "fit the mold" and have had challenges completing conventional medical training.
White Coat Clenched Fist: The Political Education of An American Physician, by Fitzhugh Mullan, MD. Copyright 1976
Teeming with the life of a big city hospital, as timely as the current investigations of the medical profession, White Coat, Clenched Fist is a probing autobiography of a young man, an insightful portrait of the generation that came of age during the sixties, and an impartial indictment of America's most indispensable, admired, and unchecked profession.
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. Copyright 2001
When an infected bolt of clothe carries plague from London to an isolated mountain village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes we follow the story of the plague year, 1666, as her fellow villagers make an extraordinary choice: convinced by a visionary young minister they elect to quarantine themselves within the village boundaries to arrest the spread of the disease. But as death reaches into every household, faith frays. When villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive, a year of plague becomes instead annus mirabilis, a “year of wonders.”
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