Wednesday, August 11, 2010

like oprah's book club without the oprah

My youngest sister (she's ten years younger than me, which either makes her very young or me very old, I'll choose the former) is starting medical school in the fall. I think there is a certain futility in giving medical students or pre-medical students advice outside of the purely practical--never pass up a free meal, sleep when you can, that kind of thing--because there are certain things that you will never, ever believe, and certain lessons that you will not be ready to absorb until you've gone through the experience of learning them firsthand. In that sense, medical school is much like that final scene in Oz (as in "The Wizard of Oz," not the HBO series set in prison with all the riots and butt-raping) where the scarecrow asks the Good Witch of the North:

Then why didn't you tell her before?

Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

Medical students, there are things that I can tell you about medicine, but you'll never believe me. You'll just have to learn them for yourselves. However, let it not be said that I didn't try.

Therefore, I would like to now present to you my list of the five books I think that every student should read before starting medical training, be it for your MD, DO, PA, nursing degree, or what have you. Note that my own book is not among them, though if you would like to read it nonetheless when it comes out, I certainly wouldn't dissuade you.

* * *

1. The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down (by Anne Fadiman)

The story of a young first-generation Hmong girl with epilepsy, her interface with the American healthcare system, and the catastrophic culture clash that ensued. I read a review that called this a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, and I think that's pretty much right on the money. I also think this is one of the best books about the medicine I have ever read. Sensitive and beautifully written, this book dares you to choose sides, turns your expectations inside-out, and showed me more than anything that medicine should be treated more like an art than a religion.

I read this book early in my Pediatrics residency (long-time readers remember that I did two years of Peds before switching to Anesthesia) and it completely changed my life. I wish I could say that I remember the lessons from this book every day when I deal with my actual patients, but that's why it bears frequent re-reading; I must have read this book at least ten times in the past five years.

2. And The Band Played On (by Randy Shilts)

I first read this book I think in tenth grade, when I was writing a Social Studies paper about the history of the AIDS epidemic. (Grade on the paper: A minus, but this particular teacher was known for his grade inflation, so it probably was a pretty crappy paper. I do remember printing it out on my dot matrix printer as well, the sound of which always reminded me of sitting in a dentist's office.)

I know that for some people, just reading the subtitle, "Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic" is enough to send you to running for the door (or to say that it sounds like something you'd be assigned--read: forced--to read in some college Poli-Sci class), but hear me out. Written more than twenty years ago by Randy Shilts, who I believe since succumbed to the epidemic himself, it is a journalistic work to be sure, but written in such a way that can best be described as cinematic. It's an exciting book to read. It's a tragic book to read. AIDS has been part of our landscape for so long now it's hard to imagine living in a world before we even knew what the disease did, how it was spread, or that it was caused by a virus. The steps in the healthcare process, in the political process, the small acts of craven ignorance and everyday heroism depicted along the way are unforgettable. We live in a world now where AIDS is a household name. Everyone should read about this time not so long ago when it was not.

3. Complications (by Atul Gawande)

I'm pretty sure that by now I don't need to convince anyone that Atul Gawande is a great writer, but let me just say it again. He's a great writer. His writing is more process-oriented than personal, but I think some of the best parts of the book are the personal bits--the part where he talks about his first experience putting in a central line as an intern, the part where he talks about the decision process of choosing a surgeon for his own son, born with a congenital heart defect. Moreover, Gawande highlights his approach to medicine in his own subtitle, "A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science." Medicine is imperfect. We are imperfect. It is in acknowledging these imperfections and how we strive to be better than we already are that makes the difference.

4. Singular Intimacies (by Danielle Ofri)

I once heard a book editor complain about the glut of doctors who were pedaling around book proposals or manuscripts in various stages of completion about the medical training process. "Every doctor has stories," he said, "but not every doctor can write. The problem is, they don't know that." And I will freely admit to you, I have lived in fear ever since I heard that insider comment that I am yet another in a long line of doctors who has more stories to tell than the talent to tell them.

Danielle Ofri has stories, and she tells them well. This book is basically a memoir of a young doctor in training, starting with her days as a medical student up through her graduation from residency. Most of the chapters (more like vignettes) existed as standalone stories in one for or another; she was widely published in a variety of magazines prior to coming out with her first book, and is now the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of the Bellevue Literary Review, which is a literary journal that publishes works related to medicine and health.

What strikes me most about Ofri's first book is her fearlessness in admitting her own failures, her own weaknesses, her own moments of doubt throughout the early years of her training. We've all been there, but not everyone can so nakedly capture that feeling that one has as a medical student, an intern, that first night as the senior resident on the floor, of "I-don't-quite-know-what-I'm-doing-but-now-I-have-to-pretend-like-I-do." In a world of medicine being depicted as large-than-life and heroic, her humanizing the scope of medical training is wonderful and refreshing.

5. Walk on Water (by Michael Ruhlman)

I've read this book many, many times, and each time, I can't put it down until I've read it cover-to-cover. Michael Ruhlman is a journalist (I think he may have been a sports writer in a prior incarnation) who spends several months with a team of pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic, headed by chief surgeon Roger Mee.

Now, this may be the anesthesiologist in me speaking, but there's nothing I find more distasteful than the "Surgeon as God" narrative, and so I picked up this book with some hesitation. But this book is nothing like that. That is not to say that the surgical skill displayed is not remarkable (it is) or that the scenes in the OR are not heart-pounding (they are), or the stories of the tiniest lives saved not awe-inspiring (they totally are). But the bigger picture of this book is the evolution of medicine, how far we've come in such a short time, where we are now, and how much farther we still have to go when it comes to saving our youngest and sickest patients. It also marvels at the craft of medicine, the skill, and how to be the very, very best at a certain field, it takes more than just hard work and dogged persistence--in some ways, you have to be kind of a freak of nature. Roger Mee is very, very good at what he does, which is pediatric open-heart surgery, and therefore he feels it is his responsibility to do just that, whether he likes it or not.

(As an aside, I have to say that I trained in Pediatrics for two years, and worked in the PICU and NICU where I took care of scores of post-op complex congenital heart patients. However, there were certain passages in the book where Ruhlman, a layperson, discusses the physiology of the Fontan or the challenges of the Norwood, and I understood the surgery in far more clarity than any of the cardiologists or surgeons I'd worked with had ever been able to explain to me. He is a gifted writer, and speaks fluently in the foreign language of medicine. Bravo.)

* * *

There is one theme at the core of all these books, more overt in some than in others, but a central thread in all good medical non-fiction nonetheless. Which brings me back to my original point. If I could give young healthcare professionals one piece of advice, one word to live by, it would be this: humility. Be humble. Yes, all the standard advice still applies: work hard, sweat the details, treat your patients as you'd want your family to be treated--but I think humility is probably the most important quality for a young doctor, for any doctor to have.

Admit when you don't know something. Admit when you've failed. Admit when your goals exceed your reach, when the skills required exceed your experience, but never stop trying to push that limit. Know when to stop, know when to ask for help, and above all, be aware of your own limitations while trying constantly to exceed them. That's the most important thing in medicine. If you think you know everything there is to know, not only will you always be wrong, but you'll wall yourself off against learning anything new. So be humble. Know what it is that is just outside your reach, and spend your entire life trying to get there.

(Any books to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section! For the five I picked here, there's another twenty I left out. What are your favorites?)


  1. The House of God. I'm so glad someone finally decided to force it upon me a few months ago. But I wish someone would've handed it to me the second I got accepted in medical school.

    Though I probably would not have read it then, or not believed it, or be completely astonished by the lack of niceness to patients. But anyway: this was exactly the book I needed when I freaked out the day before I started my first clerkship. The thought of a white doctor's coat choked me. This would've made me laugh. And though I'm three years down the clerkship road right now, I regard this as my personal Medicine Bible. Whatever happens, whatever kind of rubbish anyone dumps on me, I know there are a few House Laws to make me get through, with a smile!

  2. Canadian Me5:27 PM

    Vincent Lam, "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures."

    Now a miniseries on HBO Canada.

    It's an excellent collection of stories by a first time writer, long time doctor. It won the Giller Prize here in Canada, which is our version of the Pulitzer. Look for the story about the SARS epidemic in Toronto.

  3. Apparently I do what I am told because I just ordered all the books. Not sure when I'll get around to reading them, but hopefully just knowing they are there will help a little. Maybe? Maybe not? At least they'll help me remember the humility part. That's some good advice ... I only wish the people who needed to hear it the most were humble enough to listen. :)

  4. Hmm, a few I would add:

    1) the play "Wit" (also, a movie). This is a must-read for all medical students who wonder why patients and their families freak out when several doctors and students all show up to get their paws on "that awesome case".
    2) "Stiff", by Mary Roach. This is a non-fiction piece about the varying use of cadavers, and how we all owe our lives to the brave deceased.
    3) "Better", by Atul Gawande. This is a wonderful follow-up to his first piece, because it talks about methods and pitfalls of improving care, going from the individual doctor to a massive global effort in eradicating polio.

    (Aw, heck. Here's my own list:

  5. Anonymous6:01 PM

    No 'House of God?' ;)

  6. Yes, I'm like that one person in the room who's never seen "Goonies," and everyone always screams, "YOU'VE NEVER SEEN GOONIES?" Except instead of "Goonies," make that "House of God."

    Yes, I've never read "House of God," but it's been sort of a conscious choice. I just have this feeling (perhaps baseless) that it's kind of sexist--macho docs bedding nubile young nursing students and whatnot--and that just kind of tuned me off from reading it. I could be totally wrong, though.

  7. I haven't read any of these...being that I'm just a flight attendant (and NO, I don't know Steve Slater!), but based on your rec, I'll be looking into some of them. Thanks!

  8. PS: @Jane, I don't think there's anyone alive who couldn't use the reminder to be humble. I think that was my favorite part of Michelle's post. Humility is a nearly-forgotten virtue today.

  9. On the other end of the spectrum, for those medical students and residents that don't have problems with being humble, it's also important to have confidence. It's one thing to admit you don't know, and another beast entirely if you're thinking, "I'm stupid, I don't belong here", constantly apologizing to your seniors [and patients!], or prefacing your ideas or questions with "this is probably stupid, but..." Like most things in life, somewhere in the middle is good!

  10. Anonymous6:59 PM

    Not an Entirely Benign Procedure, by Perri Klass. She wrote these essays while in medical school, so they have a profound immediacy. And she is, of course, a fantastic writer.

  11. Yes, I agree. Confidence tempered with humility. And let's face it, sometimes you don't feel confidence and you still have to put on your game face and do your best, even if you don't know if that'll be good enough. That's the name of the game.

    I totally agree with "Wit," by the way. I saw the play in medical school (with Judith Light in the starring role--who knew Angela from "Who's the Boss" had such acting chops) and it blew my little mind.

  12. Anonymous7:15 PM

    another vote for the house of god...i read it before medical school, in medical school, and in residency, and it changed every time. i guess i should read it again now that i am done.

    although it is very cynical and parts of it are definitely dated. it is truly a classic...some that come to mind are: "gomers go to ground," "BUN + Age = lasix dose," and "show me the medical student that only triples my work and i will kiss his feet." as a medical student, i didn't really believe tht last one...until i was a resident. to this day, when i have an elderly patient in the ER, i lower the bed as far as it will go and put up the side rails...i would like to say it is the incessant rn training i received, but i think "gomers go to ground" every time!

    anyway, great book. my 0.02.

  13. Anonymous8:44 PM

    I have read the first three (more than once!) and have the last two on my list.

    I agree with all those that said "House of God". Yes it's some what macho and sexist but consider the time in which it was written. Its message rings loud and clear - sometimes being a doctor sucks but there is, oddly, a bright side.

    I also agree with the Scrivener who recommended the Perri Klass book. She still writes and her pieces can be found from time to time in NEJM.

    I'm in the middle of "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman. It's FANTASTIC. It tries to understand why we doctors make the decisions the way we do and to help empower patients when faced with medical decision making.

    "Dr. Folkman's War" about Judah Folkman, the doctor who for all intents and purposes discovered that angiogenesis makes cancer grow, is a great read if you can find it. I got it for my sister-in-law when she started medical school 6 years ago and it was out of print back then.

  14. Anonymous8:44 PM

    The Discovery of Insulin- i know it sounds boring but i couldn't put it down. it's about the discovery and about the nobel fight that followed. great read!

  15. I loved "The spirit catches you and then you fall down." It reminds me to think of patients as people in the contexts of their lives and families. I read it in college, and again in medical school, and again during my pediatric residency.

    Some other favorites of mine:

    "Walking out on the boys" by Frances K. Conley

    "An unquiet mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison

    "The mold in Doctor Florey's Coat" by Eric Lax

  16. Anonymous9:11 PM

    I second (or fifth ;) the House of God. Yes, I had mixed feeling reading it... as a medical student. I loved reading it during residency.

    "At a cardiac arrest, the first procedure is to check your own pulse.
    ...The patient is the one with the disease.
    ...There is no body cavity that cannot be reached with a #14 needle and a good strong arm.
    ...If you don’t take a temperature you can’t find a fever.
    ...The delivery of good medical care is to do as much nothing as possible. "

  17. I finished Complications last night (for the second or third time), and now I have a reading list for my next break! Thanks for sharing your recommendations! :)

  18. Anonymous9:33 PM

    I agree that "House of God" needs to be reread multiple times throughout training and after. I was totally disturbed reading it as a second year med student, and only truly appreciated it after finishing residency. I have to add "On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency." by Emily Transue. Written as excerpts from her journal she kept from the first day to the last day of her medicine residency, I don't think I have ever read a book that so captured the day to day experience of being a resident.

  19. Anonymous9:54 PM

    The two I've read on the list (The Spirit Catches You and Complications) were great.
    Added the others to my list, though only walk on water is available for kindle, so the others will have to wait, along with House of God.

    I'm a scientist, not a doctor, but I have to recommend "The immortal lives of Henrietta Lacks" -- Really good read about the patient at the center of HeLa cells.

    As an aside, Michelle, please make your book available for kindle. I'm one of the 15% who pretty much won't read a book unless I can read it electronically.. Thanks

  20. Ack. I have read 4 of those and 2 of them suck: The Spirit Catches You and Singular Int. I like Sarada's list better. Stiff is a less obvious but more awesome choice.

  21. I read house of god last summer before starting med school, and am definitely planning on reading it again soon. I loved complications and better. Atul Gawande's latest book Checklist Manifesto was also good.
    Hot Lights Cold Steel was also really good- written by an orthopedic surgeon about his residency.

  22. Anonymous10:36 PM

    we need an updated/politically correct House of

  23. Hmm, I read 3 of those 5 books before I got to med school...I feel slightly accomplished haha. Definitely have to say that Singular Intimacies was my favorite- it's warranted multiple re-reads, especially since I started med school.

    Other suggestions-
    Final Exam by Pauline Chen
    Intern by Sandeep Jauhar

  24. Anonymous12:25 AM

    I recommend Death of Innocents. It follows the family who formed the basis for the Pediatrics article stating that SIDS was genetic (which has since been retracted as the children in question were killed by their mother) and the physician who wrote the paper. It's written by a journalist and is a very good read. it is a compelling and sobering look at how our personal views and stakes can profoundly affect our views of patients and research we conduct. It dovetails nicely with "How Doctors Think" by adding the research component too.

  25. Anonymous12:29 AM

    I definitely second "And the Band Plays On." I heard him speak soon after publication and his perspective was really interesting. You are correct he did die of AIDS related complications a number of years ago.

  26. Thanks for this post. It's nice to get unsolicited advice... because the solicitation of advice is not always very well-received by seasoned physicians. Of course I have 3 days before school staff ill have to bookmark this post for awhile.. but very much appreciated, nonetheless.

  27. We had to watch Wit as part of our pscyhosocial class. It was the HBO version with Emma Thompson. Amazing. Not a dry eye in the entire class. Every health professional should have to watch it.

    I've never read House of God AND I've never seen The Goonies. Don't have a huge desire to read/see either. In fact, I have no desire to read anything about medicine ever again.

    Love you point on humility. It really is so important to have. And actually, I find having humility to be comforting. I don't know everything, I shouldn't know everything, I'm human. All I can do is try my best and know my limits.

  28. When my significant other was contemplating med. school five years ago I began to read a wide variety of literature related to medicine. I found much of what I was reading to be fairly dated and East coast (especially New York) centric. I'm happy to report on a couple of authors who have written contemporary accounts of their training at the University of Washington.

    Audrey Young wrote both What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey about her time as a student and The House of Hope and Fear: Life in a Big City Hospital about her experience as an IM Resident in Seattle.

    Emily R. Transue's On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency is an other favorite of mine.

  29. Bedside Stories: Confessions of a Junior Doctor is a great book about life as a junior doctor in the NHS- both funny and helpful!

  30. Mountains Beyond Mountains is an amazing Pulitzer prize winning book about Paul Farmer and his efforts in Haiti and beyond. Maybe more of a public health book than medicine, but still a really great read. I recommend it to pretty much everyone I encounter...

    It made me feel both inadequate and thankful that people like Paul Farmer exist.

  31. Before this post turns into an episode of "House" and and doctors are the only profession to be found, let's hear it for Tilda Shalof and her 3 books: "A Nurse's Story", "Making of a Nurse", and "Camp Nurse". The first is the best by far, "Camp Nurse" is good, good whole wheat fun and "Making of" is good if you are a fan of the other 2.

    However, doctors are the prolific writers it seems (where do they find the time?!) and I have to recommend "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" by Gabor Mate. Mate is the doctor at The Portland Hotel in Vancouver's downtown eastside. One of the most interesting, unique and compassionate discussions of addiction, poverty, and neglect by someone who's worked in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods for over 20 years.

    "Set this House in Order: A Romance of Souls" departs from this list as it is fiction, but it is a good reminder that the psych pts who cross your path may have their own order to the world. How they set their houses works best for them, don't muck about with it too much or the foundation may start to crumble.

  32. I read "The Spirit Catches You" in college for a sociology class and like it then. I liked "How Doctors Think," too. Another good one that hasn't been mentioned is "Becoming A Doctor" by Melvin Konner.

    Also for a little medical history, "The Ghost Map" by Steven Johnson is an interesting book about the London cholera outbreak in the 1850s. It sort of goes through the way epidemiology started evolving back at its beginning... when the germ theory was still trumped by the miasma theory and evidence-based medicine was pretty much unheard-of.

  33. "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Rachel Naomi Ramen. A family practice doctor whose grandfather is a rabbi discussing balancing research-science medicine with humanistic medicine in vignettes. An excellent read.

  34. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I had forgotten about "Death of Innocents"! It happened at my hospital! :D

  35. Monkey5:04 PM

    Congratulations to your sister! Is your 2nd sister finished with her medical training yet? What kind of doctor is she now?

  36. I tried to read House of God while in medical school and didn't understand it, so I stopped after a few chapters. I read it a few months after I graduated from residency and it made so much more sense.

    This is not a medical book, but I really relate To Kill a Mockingbird to life in medicine. I read it at least once a year, sometimes twice. I think we should all try to be like Atticus Finch--recognize that we are not perfect, stand up for the powerless when we have power, do what is right, don't expect anyone to notice.

    Also, I agree on the paucity of useful advice to give to medical students as they begin. I finally got it down to encouraging them to spend several hundred dollars on a very comfortable desk chair for the first two years, and very comfortable shoes for the last two years. I did neither and still regret it.

  37. "Trust Me... I'm a Junior Doctor" by Max Pemburton is a brilliant book about a doctor in his first year after graduating in the UK.

  38. K or something10:01 PM

    I will get flak for this, but I hated "The Spirit Catches You..."

    This is because I read it with the most earnest, ivory-tower academic with no concept of reality. And I went to the same school as Michelle, and lean far left on social issues. This professor took cultural sensitivity way too far. I wish I had a good example, but it was pretty clear she had no background in medicine from the moment I started medical school.

    In a few years when I am less scarred, I may pick it up again. It does remind me to check my patient's level of literacy/understanding, so I suppose it was good for something.

    I'd like to recommend a non-medical book: Talent Is Overrated. You're going to be sick of medical books by the time you're two weeks into anatomy. Even if you hate business, this book emphasizes something a lot of medical students don't get until they learn painfully: working hard tends to get you a lot further than natural aptitude. Too many of us got this far with a high level of intelligence but a lousy work ethic (I was definitely one of them). This book emphasizes that you may never be Einstein, but you don't have to be to be very good at something.

  39. Everyone loves "Moutains Beyond Mountains." It's not really a favorite of mine, but I thought I'd throw it out there as the only medical non-fiction I will ever read.

  40. I take it back, The Great Influenza was good.

  41. "Doctors: the biography of medicine" by Sherwin Nuland. I adore Nuland's writing!

  42. Great reads all...and I would add, especially if you are encountering this list at the beginning of medical school:

    What I Learned in Medical School: Personal Stories of Young Doctors, Kevin M. Takakuwa Editor)
    This is a collection of personal accounts of medical students from all over the experience map...from the super accelerated student starting med school at 19, to the student who becomes homeless through a financial aid debacle and falls through the cracks at his huge school. Pretty amazing.

    Body of Work, Christine Montross
    An well written account of a first year student's experience in the gross anatomy lab.

    and for fiction...

    Love and Modern Medicine, Perri Klass
    A collection of award winning short stories by Dr. Klass...not really all about medicine directly. Good Stuff...

    What I like about each of these books is that they are all good for 30 minutes of reading to reset your brain after looking at Netter's for about 8 hours straight...

  43. Anonymous9:09 PM

    Great advice Michelle.

  44. Excellent choices Dr. Au, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I read "complications" and "the spirit catches you" in undergrad through my cultural anthropology classes and I have since felt that both should be required reading for all future doctors.

    I do believe however that the single most essential book for aspiring doctors should be "Something for the Pain" by Paul Austin. I have no doubt that this book is the finest depiction of the harshness and the beauty of practicing medicine. Please give it a read when you get a chance.

    And for the love of all that is holy, update more often.

  45. Anonymous2:32 PM

    A Country Doctor's Notebook - Mikhail Bulgakov
    Semi-autobiographical story, based in the early 20th century, newly graduated doc sent out to rural Russia.
    This was recommended by one of my seniors in my first year of working as a doctor. The incredible thing is that all the emotions experienced by the main character as he dealt with situations way beyond his expertise, were much the same as I, and my fellow newly qualified colleagues experienced.
    Reassuring to know that the newly qualified doctor has probably always experienced those same apprehensive, and at times terrified, emotions.

  46. Cecelia5:20 PM

    I would add My Own Country by Abraham Verghese, about the early days of AIDS in East Tennessee. For that matter, his new novel Cutting for Stone is outstanding too. House of God grates on me a bit but I do think there was value in reading it during my intern year. (BUN + age = lasix dose works ever time.) My other favorites are The Spirit Catches you and Complications.

  47. Zane91110:03 AM

    Two I would add:

    1) Where is the Mango Princess by Cathy Crimmins.

    Her husband has a TBI and the story deals with her journey from time of the accident and dealing with medical and insurance aspects. Heartwarming with wit. A must read.

    2) Stiff by Mary Roach

    The curios lives of human cadavers. Covers the history of the autopsy and all the many uses of a cadaver. A very interesting read!

  48. I agree with "The Spirit Catches You." I saw it on the textbook shelves the other day when I was picking up my books for the semester. I was glad to see that someone was using it as a teaching tool.

    I also will throw a nod to "Final Exam" by Pauline Chen. I include a discussion of this book in the end-of-life care classes I teach.

  49. I second the Tilda Shalof books, as well as well Yes, Sister: Memoir of a Young Nurse by Donna Yates-Adelman.

  50. i'm new to your blog and just started reading. i want to take this quote, the entire paragraph starting with: "admit when you don't know something." my father was a physician, i worked in his office and grew up reading JAMA. i say this b/c i know doctors, and i try to see them both as people and physicians. and i know how things *should* work.

    an ER visit over the winter still has my blood boiling, the way you're in a dream and you can't scream. i wasn't well enough to defend myself from an ER resident who had no idea what he was doing, kept telling me he was trying to "figure it out," and chose to let me spend the night with him inanely grasping for ways to help me while reading a little book on pharmacology. dude, if you're not going to call my doctors, you can't use the internet? clearly, i am still pissed. i'd like to send him this paragraph. in fact, i may just do that. (and do the one thing my late father would have killed me for doing: send a copy to his supervisor and tell him the story.)

    thank you for this post

  51. I'm just starting Routine Miracles, but from what I've read thus far, I think it is probably a great addition to the list. It discusses the problems with modern medical training, namely the way young medical students and doctors are demoralized by their teachers, instead of being encouraged and enthusiastic about this time in medicine.

  52. "Kill as Few Patients As Possible" has been recommended to me by someone whose literary choices I trust.

    It's next on my list.

    Just finished, "Bad Science" by Goldacre and found myself wanting to start it all over again. If for no other reason it is worth the read merely for the glut of ammunition you gain from the chapter on Andrew Wakefield and his creation of a fictional link between MMR and autism.

  53. Definately "House of God" and it's sequel, "Mount Misery", often forgotten. And, unfortunately, no, i never did make it to Med School. :(

  54. Katie6:06 PM

    I put several of the books in your list on my Christmas list, I thought "Complications", "Walk on Water" and "The Spirit Catches you" were wonderful. Came to the comments tonight seeking other suggestions. Fantastic blog, looking forward to reading your book, Dr. Au.

  55. I am reading "Our Daily Meds" by Melody Petersen. It started off a little slow for me, but it got more interesting as I read more. It isn't about being a doctor per se, but about pharmaceutical companies and marketing - how great things like the polio vaccine come about, how more kids than ever are on some drugs for ADHD, and how catchy slogans and descriptions can make the general public *think* they have a disorder that needs correction.

  56. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I just finished your book and loved it. Wish that I had picked it up sooner in my medical education. I just finished fellowship, and am a mother x 3 now. I was laughing out loud at parts. Another books that I would add to your list is this "Between Expectations: Lessons Learned from a Pediatric Residency" by Meghan MacLean Weir. It was just published in 2011. Since I've only read 2/5 of the books you listed, I'll make a point to pick up the other three. Keep the writing and humor coming!

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