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Good Books! Reccomendations?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by computerdorkdan, May 16, 2007.

  1. computerdorkdan

    computerdorkdan Cool dude 2+ Year Member

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    Hello everybody! First post-hello-I'm-new post! If all goes well I'll be closing up my software consulting business shortly and heading into a post-bac pre-med program. I hope! This is what I get for getting a degree in Finance and poor grades.

    I'm a voracious reader and thought I'd share some of the medical books that I've read over the years and have found especially good. I'd also love feedback from other folks about books they've read that have made them think differently about medicine - good or bad and why. Anything related to medicine (and science, of course) is fair game.

    Remember, if you want to buy one - use the SDN Amazon service - support them! (And that was a completely unsolicited comment on my part.) Also, all these opinions were formed on my own - no outside solicitation, etc.

    The Intern Blues, Robert Marion, MD - This is probably a classic - at least it should be. It follows four interns over a year. Each chapter follows a different intern at different points in the year. I like it because it gets pretty personal - about their relationships, families, etc. It makes you think about what your life might be like and how you would be willing to live.

    Final Exam, Pauline W. Chen - This is a pretty new book - still in hardback. The author is a liver transplant surgeon. The book takes pieces from her medical career and explores them fairly deeply. She talks about times she felt like a bad doctor for the way she treated her patients and the times she felt great because of the way she treated them. She explores a bit into how doctors are trained and how that affects patient care. There are some annoying moments when she's "elbow deep in an abdomen" one second and the next reflecting on her Taiwanese upbringing that leave you wanting to go back to that exposed abdomen just for closure (no pun intended). All-in-all it's an emotional, interesting, and honest reflection - worth the read.

    Becoming a Doctor - Melvin Konner, MD - This guy had a Ph.D. in anthropology as well a family and then decided to go to medical school. He writes about his experiences in his third year at school - when he's first starting to really interact with patients. It's reflective, which is always good. He also does a pretty good job relating the details of what he learned - which to a future doctor is always good.

    The Medical Science of House, M.D. - Andrew Holtz - Ok, don't make fun of me for this one. I actually liked it. It's a super quick read - I'm talking like The Da Vinci Code quick. It uses the TV show for structure, but no real commentary - which is fine by me. It's a good holistic overview of the medical profession. If you want to be a doctor because you think House is cool I encourage you to read this and think seriously about your ability to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

    The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity - Roy Porter - I'm jumping the gun on this one since I'm not finished with it yet (p409/718). It's got a lot of content, all of which is interesting, but it is a bit dry. I think this is one of those "if you really want to appreciate medicine you need to read it" books. I'll probably re-visit this opinion once I finish it.

    Can't wait to see what other people have read and liked!
     
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  3. Anastasis

    Anastasis caffeinated for safety Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Mountains Beyond Mountains by Kidder (?) about Paul Farmer is a great read.

    I found House of God enjoyable though people tend to either love that book or hate it so approach it with caution.

    (on a side note: I'm currently reading "Battlefield Earth" which must have been the crappiest movie ever made but is shaping up to be a pretty good sci-fi book if you like that genre and can stand the nasty looks you get for reading a Hubbard book in public)

    Oh yeah and my dad swears "Social Transformation of American Medicine" is the best medical history book he's ever read. It's in my pile but I haven't read it yet.
     
  4. menaniac

    menaniac Moxious! 2+ Year Member

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    Just finished "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman. It was an interesting look into how doctors are taught (or more acurately, not taught) to make clinical decisions in medicine. Very quick read, with chapters based on case studies. Read "Complications" by Atul Gwande a while ago, and it was pretty good, though I don't remember much of it in retrospect. And I hate to admit it, but I'm already slogging through "Iserson's Getting Into a Residency". Not that I'm gunning, but I'd like to know how the game is played before the 1st whistle blows. Its really something all med students should at least look at in their 1st year. By the time 3rd year rolls around, its too late for it to be of much use. I also found "Healing From the Heart: A Leading Surgeon Combines Eastern and Western Traditions to Create the Medicine of the Future" by Mehmet Oz very intreguing, despite its somewhat pretentious title. Another case-based quick read, which allows the reader to think about alternative supportive ways to help patients with their health, in addition to (not necessarily in liu of) western medicine.

    Other than those, I'm just hunkering down with a bunch of murder mysteries for the rest of the summer! :D
     
  5. menaniac

    menaniac Moxious! 2+ Year Member

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    (on a side note: I'm currently reading "Battlefield Earth" which must have been the crappiest movie ever made but is shaping up to be a pretty good sci-fi book if you like that genre and can stand the nasty looks you get for reading a Hubbard book in public)

    You're a braver soul than i ...I couldn't get past the 1st 200 pages! :D

    Oh yeah and my dad swears "Social Transformation of American Medicine" is the best medical history book he's ever read. It's in my pile but I haven't read it yet.[/quote]

    This is a great book. Gave me lots to think about, and some fodder for interviews. Pretty dry, but it really is good.
     
  6. computerdorkdan

    computerdorkdan Cool dude 2+ Year Member

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    Funny, on Amazon the cover picture to Social Transformation of American Medicine and The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity are the same.

    I added it to my next purchase list. Looking forward to it - especially if it provided good fodder for interviews.
     
  7. bioteach

    bioteach MSIV 7+ Year Member

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    I just finished "Final Exam", and I agree that it was very good. The author discusses the relationships that a doctor has with death... beginning from her first encounter with a cadaver, her first patient dying , etc. Good read.

    I also just read "White Coat: Becoming a doctor at Harvard Medical School". It walked you through her entire 4 years of medical school. Granted, we aren't all going to Harvard (I'm sure not!) but it really described the whole process in (very interesting) detail. I feel like I know a little bit more about what to expect in med school.
     
  8. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    A Good book to read before medical school is First Cut: A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab by Albert Howard Carter III.

    My favorites by my favorite medical author: (All by Richard Selzer, M.D.)
    Confessions of the Knife
    Taking the World in For Repairs
    Mortal Lessons
    Down From Troy
    The Doctor Stories
    Favorites by other authors:
    The Making of a Surgeon By William A. Nolan, M.D.
    Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Benjamin Carson, M.D.
    Think Big by Benjamin Carson, M.D.
    The Big Picture by Benjamin Carson, M.D.
    Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
    As I Lay Dying by Ernest Hemingway

    My very favorite reading is anything by Jane Austin, John LeCarre, James Clavell and Robert Heinlein. I have complete sets by all of these authors.
     
  9. DragonWell

    DragonWell Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I'll put in another bump for "Complications", although in all honesty this is the only non-class related book I've read in the last year, so it hasn't had much competition. BTW, the book is really about medicine more than just surgery.

    I also enjoyed House of God before school started.
     
  10. bioteach

    bioteach MSIV 7+ Year Member

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    Another one I loved was, "Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers" by Mary Roach. Great book. Absolutely fascinating and it gives you lots of tidbits of information to freak out your non-science friends with.
     
  11. Rxbound

    Rxbound Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    I laughed out loud while reading this. Just the kind of twisted read to get the summer started:thumbup:
     
  12. Johnny_one_eye

    Johnny_one_eye Phleboptimist 2+ Year Member

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    Did you mean Faulkner for As I Lay Dying?
     
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Everyone knows Hemingway's version was better. Faulkner is a hack.


    I second the suggestions of Complications, and House of God. Both are must reads for premeds.
     
  14. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

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    Gone Walkabout!
    Thank-you for the correction. I am in the middle of A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway and I type faster than I can think. :D
     
  15. Playmakur42

    Playmakur42 7+ Year Member

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    I enjoyed "Cutting Remarks" by Sidney Schwab. It's written by a general surgeon, is mostly about general surgery, and is interesting and witty.
     
  16. Sabby22

    Sabby22

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    I just finished a good one: The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman, an oncologist/hemotologist's account of the lessons his patients taught him about the importance of honest hope in treatment. It's a bit of an emotional read, but full of meaningful insights. I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for something that addresses the delicate art of confronting mortality.
     
  17. st0w

    st0w plasticperineum syndrome 10+ Year Member

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    I just finished (and really enjoyed) Hot Lights, Cold Steel by Michael Collins, MD.. About his four year residency in orthopaedic surgery at Mayo, and trying to provide for his family at the same time. Memoir-style, and very well written.
     
  18. I feel the need to point out the worst book ever recommended to premeds, because if I don't some bleeding heart little dipwad will come in here and post about how it is such a great book......the book? The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down...... :mad:

    It is the most worthless piece of bleeding heart, politically correct bull**** I have ever had the displeasure or reading. It's the sort of thing that aggregiously affluent white suburbanites read in order to make themselves feel better about their shallow existence and to feel superior because the "understand" the plight of the "poor" Hmong family. It's the liberal equivalent of masturbation since it benefits no one else but themselves- it certainly doesn't benefit pediatric patients to allow the ignorance, stupidity or just plain backwardness of their parents to cost them their health and/or their lives....all so we don't offend someone and can be "culturally sensitive". :mad:

    I am not one who normally advocates banning books nor burning them. That, however, is one book I personally would like to see every copy of burned down to ashes and then the ashes pissed upon to make them cool enough to be loaded into bags for disposal in the deepest, most dank recess of an abandoned guano mine that can be found. Then the full length of the mine should be rigged with explosives which would be set off after someone makes sure all of the bats are out safely.

    Anne Fadiman should be summarily executed- preferrably in a slow, meaningful and excruciatingly painful manner (think crucifixion above a nest of fire ants)- not lauded for writing that piece of drivel, because it was so slow, pointless and excruciatingly painful to read. The child's parents should have rotted in prison for letting their own superstitions get in the way of proper medical care for her, not been used as fodder for an insipid book. And I don't mean a soft American prison, I'm talking an S-21 style Cambodian prison.

    If we can't say "s__t", "f__k" or "mother____er" on SDN without it being replaced automatically with **** then I request that the title of a book that is best described as being suitable for wiping the **** from one's butt should be similarly blocked from public view.

    [/rant]
     
  19. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

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    This kind of review is exactly what gets people to pick up a book, you know. Anything that pisses somebody off that much must be interesting.

    Here are a couple of reasons I consider the Fadiman book worth reading.

    1. Hmong refugees are just one of many cultural or religious groups that make doctoring very difficult. Jehovah's Witnesses will not agree to blood transfusions. Devout Muslims will not allow examination of women by male doctors, and can sue you for disposing of a placenta as medical waste (it's to be given a funeral). Way too many US natives think that smoking, alcohol abuse and overeating are basic human rights. If the attitudes of difficult patients give rise to a visceral anger, as we see with DKM, that's GREAT information for somebody pursuing a medical career. This is very simply WHAT THE PUBLIC IS LIKE: it's messy, and nobody cares about your disapproval. How much of your career do you want to spend pissed off at your patients? How are you going to survive through residency to get to the private practice where you don't have to deal with the unwashed masses? $10 for this book is cheap if you discover you don't want what's on the other side of $200k med school debt.

    2. The book describes a complete and utter breakdown of every service that's "supposed" to work in immigration and public health. A premed who believes that being a doctor automatically makes you a "good guy" with the power to heal should know how many external entities take away that power. The US military hired Hmong as mercenaries in Vietnam and promised them protection after the war, which ended up being impossible, so the Hmong had to be evacuated. Hmong were then dumped in US communities where they had no access to farming and no comprehension of what they were supposed to do. Local services received no notice that Hmong were coming, and no funding to support this new and baffling immigrant group. Providing English classes would have been effectively useless, because there was no Hmong tradition of adult education or "bettering" yourself. So a kid gets epilepsy and the whole thing falls apart like a pot roast. This book is about a disaster. Doctors play a very small role.

    The story is largely told from a social work perspective. I think DKM would approve of abolishing the field of social work, correct? Maybe other premeds would benefit from some exposure to this profession which serves the "underbelly" of society.

    Also, it's required reading in a fair number of med school curriculums. Fight that all you want.

    I thought it was an extremely informative book.
     
  20. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing 10+ Year Member

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    Awesome thread.


    Anybody have any suggestions for books on medical economics. Since I'm a couple years out I'm saving the experiential/medical culture books for after acceptance. I'd like to get an understanding of the systemic cause and effect in health care systems at this point. Thanks.
     
  21. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

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    Here are three that cover economics/ethics/politics that I found useful:

    1. Colin Gordon's Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America. This book is scholarly and dense. Explains why health insurance is tied to employment. Of particular interest: what happened the last time we attempted universal health care, and why it works in other countries but not here.

    2. Robert LeBow's Healthcare Meltdown. This is a crappy book with magic wand solutions, but it's packed with anecdotes from a community practice physician about the cost of individual medical care and how it gets paid (or not).

    3. Jeff Sachs' The End of Poverty. This is a book about global poverty by the economist that Bolivia and Russia hire when they need to stabilize their currency. Health care is only a small part of it, and it's wrapped up in self-congratulation and an introduction by Bono, but I found it very informative.
     
  22. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Where is the Mango Princess by Cathy Crimmins.

    Details the healthcare experience of a man and his family (namely his wife) from the US after he gets a severe head injury in Canada on a boat outing.
     
  23. No, I would not and I thank you kindly to not make assumptions. Just because I think the parents of that child should have been subjected to severe punishment for their crimes, rather than being allowed to hide behind tradition and cultural bull****, does not mean that I would want to deprive people of access to the safety net. The reason the system failed in that case rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents.
     
  24. sehnsucht

    sehnsucht 2+ Year Member

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    I second Mountains Beyond Mountains..I met Tracy Kidder and Dr. Farmer and had my book signed. Farmer's story is a truly inspiring read.
     
  25. While his goals are admirable, he is the medical equivalent of the boy with his finger in the ****.....meanwhile, there are lots of other leaks. Sadly, the best lesson you can learn is when things are futile you can do nothing to change things and it is best to move on to a project where you can effect real differences.
     
  26. sehnsucht

    sehnsucht 2+ Year Member

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    I agree. But while many yearn for an improvement in the administration of medical care in rural and third world countries, not very many people are actually doing something about it. All I am saying is that it is inspiring to see someone take the bull by the horns and work on a particular problem in healthcare. I immensely admire the initiative and find it inspiring for my own goals. If more people were like him, the medical field would be able to make some serious progress in administering change to lacking rural healthcare not just in third-world countries but in our local regions as well.
     
  27. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

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    I assume you mean dike. Farmer's way too busy to play with dykes. Props for using effect as a verb correctly though - nobody gets that right.

    I'm pretty sure that poor Haitians dying of and giving each other MDRTB, and an official WHO policy that it's way more cost-effective to let poor folks with MDRTB just die, add up to a futile cause. Farmer has clearly demonstrated the opposite of what you're saying. He changed WHO policy on TB treatment by showing it's cost-effective to treat poor infected Haitians. Does that count as a real difference?

    Gotta let Farmer have a big fat "told you so" that XDR TB is going to make it out of the slums onto airplanes - that was predicted in his 1993 book.
     
  28. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing 10+ Year Member

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    Bingo. The costs of putting out fires in remote parts of the globe are minuscule compared to the astronomical costs of dealing with pandemic highly infectious disease. We have little cultural memory of the impact of infectious diseases and therefore underestimate their potential impact, especially as you say, in the globalized economy.
     
  29. Oops.....I guess that's what I get for browsing porn sites while posting on SDN...... j/k
     
  30. Point taken.....I was just trying to put the brakes on any of the immature and wide-eyed premeds who think they are going to save the world. While you can show it's possible and cost effective to do something, it doesn't mean it will happen on a broad scale because of politics and the very nature of people in general.
     
  31. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    DKM - You mean I CAN'T cure AIDS, Cancer, and the uninsured problem with my awesome personal statement?

    (People, I'm being totally facetious)
     
  32. :laugh: Nicely played Meg....nicely played.
     
  33. montessori2md

    montessori2md Member 10+ Year Member

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    DKM, suggest you read War Hospital (Fink) to see if it sufficiently scares premeds out of world-saving ideals to make your list :D
    Just finished it, and I tell ya what, I'll think twice the next time some charity wants cash to send aid to some war zone. Oh, save Darfur, blah blah blah, but seriously, it's enough to make you think International Aid can help kill people about as often as it helps cure them.

    Also, read the Spirit book and I liked it for the reasons stated above -everyone who works with a diverse set of pts (and that means pretty much us) is at some point going to hit a cultural brick wall. You can sit around and whine about how the family should have let you save the pt, but the fact that it happens again and again should motivate us to eventually try to find a way to work with "differences" in a way that allow the pt to get the best care.
    In How Doctors Think, there is a section about pt impression of whether their dr. "liked" them or not, and turns out, the pt can tell if you're annoyed by them most of the time. When they know you don't "like" them, they are less likely to comply w/ instructions, to return, and therefore to have a positive outcome. So, either we only treat pts who we "like", we take acting classes, or we find a way to be okay with behavior that we think is dangerous, stupid, or just plain annoying.
     
  34. Already have..... ;)

    It's better than most books about the medical profession I've read.....and closer to reality

    I think it does.....if you want to know my opinions of what international efforts have accomplished in the effort to control AIDS in Africa, feel free to ask.......

    Since the former is illegal, and I have no time for additional classes, I've gone with the latter and started just finding humor and a sense of job security in the stupidity and depravity of my fellow man.
     
  35. happysquirrel

    happysquirrel nutcracker 2.0 2+ Year Member

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    I'm currently reading Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Firlick...it's an interesting look at the life of a female neurosurgeon
     
  36. NY Musicologist

    NY Musicologist Career Changer 5+ Year Member

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    Anything by Sherwin Nuland, MD is almost guaranteed to be beautifully written:
    How We Die [and] How We Live (two different books, each a selection of interesting case histories)
    Doctors (history of medicine in a nutshell with chapters on about a dozen individual docs from Hippocrates forward)

    Just browsed through Letters to a Young Doctor by Perri Klass, MD--random thoughts and cautionary tales written for her son, a current med student. (Back in the 80s, she wrote A Not Entirely Benign Procedure about her experiences as a woman med student--a good quick read, but don't take it too seriously as times have changed since then)

    Paul Farmer: I admire the man's work, but the syrupy tone of Kidder's book was much too much for me--I returned it to the library without finishing it.

    Another one I would NOT recommend: What I Learned In Medical School (not sure if that's the exact title)--essays from a broad spectrum of med students who don't fit the traditional model for one or more reasons (race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.). Should have been interesting, but I found most of the contributions pretty whiny.

    And just thought of another one: The Soul of a Doctor (again, not sure if that's the precise title)--a fairly new collection of essays from Harvard students and alums about their experiences (especially "turning point" moments). Didn't take it home because I felt disgusted by the seeming presumption that only Haahvahd meddies have had profound experiences to share with the world...
     
  37. NY Musicologist

    NY Musicologist Career Changer 5+ Year Member

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    Me again. If you're up for some heavier reading than (most) memoirs provide, look for books by Eric J. Cassell, MD. I'm familiar with two, both heavy on policy and polemics but more accessible and well-balanced than many in this vein:

    Doctoring: The Nature of Primary Care Medicine

    The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine
     

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