10 Summer Reads for Doctors or Anyone Interested in Medicine

What’s it like to hold a heart in your hands, cut a skull open, and scramble to save your husband’s life, face entrenched sexism or racism in medicine, or make momentary, high-stakes decisions for a patient? Read the following books for these answers and more.

Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: Stories from Four Lives Author: Matt Richell

Given the impact of the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines on the immune systems of millions of people around the world, few topics are as compelling or timely as immunology. Written before the pandemic, but powerfully describing the complex mechanisms that can heal wounds, fight cancer, and fight viruses, elegant defense Brings together biology, research, and medical history with the personal experiences of four patients—including a childhood friend of author Matt Ritchel.pulitzer prize winner richel New York Times Journalist, takes readers on an in-depth exploration of the body’s main defense mechanisms and their ability to heal or hurt.

The real doctor will see you soon: Matt McCarthy, MD's first year

A real doctor will see you soon: The first year of a doctor By: Matt McCarthy, MD

Bestselling author Matt McCarthy (MD) delves into the often humbling and even heart-wrenching experiences of the first year of residency. Now an associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, McCarthy shares his journey by capturing encounters with specific patients. These include the horrific struggle to keep one intensive care patient alive and the chance to soothe another with the story of his pre-medical days as a minor league baseball player. Writing with honesty and humor, McCarthy delves into the key concerns of young physicians, including a fine balance between commitment to patients and the need for self-care.

Stiff: The Curious Life of a Human Corpse by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Life of a Human Corpse Mary Roach

exist stiff, best-selling science author Mary Roach manages to jokingly describe body snatching, decomposition, and other such sensitive topics without humiliating the dead. As today’s medical educators weigh the value of virtual corpses versus once-living humans, Roach’s book offers a glimpse into the services corpses have provided over the centuries. In clear but sometimes eerie detail, she describes their myriad uses, from car crash testing to plastic surgery practice. And, as Roach points out, “For every surgical development … cadavers fought alongside the surgeons to make history in their own quiet, divisive ways.”

The uterus in sight: Stories from the delivery room, emergency room, and operating room, by Rebecca Levy-Gantt, DO

The Visible Womb: Stories from the Birth Room, the Emergency Room, and the Operating Room By Rebecca Levy-Gantt, DO

OB-GYN Rebecca Levy-Gantt, DO Chapters in the book come with some interesting titles, including “My Upside Down Night with a Butt Down Baby.” Throughout, Gantt shared moments of sublime joy from her medical education to her private practice in Napa, California. But her flimsy memoir — less than 100 pages — also chronicles the many difficult moments that witnessed the entry of fragile lives into the world. “When things go wrong [OB-GYN], they often make horrific, unexpected mistakes,” she wrote, leaving family, friends and providers deeply affected. Despite the inevitable loss, Gantt remains engrossed in her chosen field decades later Enthusiasm. On witnessing the birth for the first time, she recalled: “I thought, ‘This is amazing. “

Don't Hurt: Henry Marsh, CBE, FRCS Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

Don’t Hurt: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery By Henry Marsh, CBE, FRCS

Henry Marsh, CBEM FRCS, one of the UK’s foremost neurosurgeons, has been operating on the human brain for decades: home to all thought, feeling, reason and memory.exist don’t hurt, Marsh looks back on some of his greatest victories and most harrowing defeats, honestly sharing the stress of surgery — sometimes 10 hours or more — in which a small misstep can cause horrific damage.this New York Times The bestseller is an intimate look at the interior of the organ that Marsh calls “great as the stars in the night.” But it was also a glimpse into the minds of the doctors, who had the privilege of tinkering inside.

Hundreds of Fingers Crossed: A Nephrologist's Search for the Perfect Match by Vanessa Grubbs, MD

Hundreds of intertwined fingers: A nephrologist searches for the perfect match By: Vanessa Grubbs, MD

When Vanessa Grubbs, MD, started dating Robert Phillips, she was a primary care physician and he was an aspiring politician with end-stage kidney disease. Soon, she volunteered to donate a kidney to save the life of the man who would become her husband.but Hundreds of intertwined fingers— Named after Grubbs’ impression of the kidney’s appearance – it’s another love story. Grubb eventually became fascinated with kidneys and trained as a nephrologist. In this intimate memoir, Grubb chronicles her own journey, beginning with her childhood as an African-American girl growing up in a small North Carolina town. She also looks at medicine more broadly, including the painful difficulties of the transplant system and the inequities faced by people of color.

Open Your Heart: A Heart Surgeon's Life and Death Story on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby, FRCS Ph.D.

Open Your Heart: A Heart Surgeon’s Life and Death Story on the Operating Table By Stephen Westaby, PhD, FRCS

Dr. Stephen Westaby of FRCS has performed more than 11,000 heart surgeries. Yet Oxford cardiologists and researchers remain fascinated by the organ that pumps blood 31.5 million times a year.exist let go of the mind, he details intricate movements like repairing a hole in a baby’s heart — and doing it with an artist’s eye. In fact, Westaby was once a painter. “I just moved from a paintbrush on canvas to a scalpel on human flesh,” he wrote. Both occupations require a keen attention to detail, which is one of his strengths. Sometimes it’s harder for him, Wetaby admits, to be the warm communication necessary to connect with frightened patients and their families.

The first cell: and the human cost of chasing cancer to the end, Azra Raza, MD

The first cell: and the human cost of sticking to the cancer Azra Raza, MD

Despite setbacks related to COVID-19, more than 20 new cancer drugs have emerged in 2020. Azra Raza, MD, a cancer researcher and physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, wouldn’t necessarily applaud the results. She argues that many cancer drugs are of dubious value — adding very little time to a patient’s life at huge economic and physical cost. Instead, she advocates for a greater focus on early detection and treatment of cancer. Raza’s reasons are personal: She served as her husband’s oncologist until he died of leukemia two decades ago.exist This first cellRaza interweaves powerful images—a mother curled up in her dying son’s bed, for example—with her views on key issues like treating patients with incurable cancer no longer makes sense.

Letters to Young Female Doctors: Notes from a Medical Life by Suzanne Koven, MD

Letter to a Young Female Doctor: Notes from a Medical Life By: Suzanne Koven, MD

Suzanne Koven, MD, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, looked at a new crop of interns and had the urge to write them a letter describing how she wished she had known early in her career thing. “More importantly, I was eager to tell my younger self what I wish I knew,” she said in a statement. letter to young female doctor. Koven’s decades of experience include various forms of sexism, including being told “men with no self-esteem go to female urologists.” But her dedication to medicine was unwavering in her decision to volunteer at a COVID-19 clinic despite concerns for her health. Koven also honestly revealed her many unsafe moments as a provider, mother, and daughter who failed to recognize her mother’s heart disease. From burnout to body image, she shares her personal journey to a deeper appreciation of her talents and a greater acceptance of her own imperfections.

Complications: Surgeons' Notes on Imperfect Science Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

Complications: Surgeons’ Notes on Imperfect Science By Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

Surgery can be an exciting chance for a cure and a dangerously high-stakes gamble, says Atul Gawande, MD, MPH New Yorker Columnist and surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.exist complication, Gawande shares creepy tales of doctor errors and complex tales of medical mysteries. He holds up a mirror for doctors and patients, from the exhausted doctor who regretfully refuses to quit smoking, to the boy with a football-sized tumor in his lungs. Gawande also explores big issues in medicine, including how hospitals can protect patients from inexperience while training young doctors. Throughout, he made it clear that, by looking closely, one could see “how confusing, uncertain and surprising medicine turned out to be”.

Editor’s Note: Book list selected by AAMC Outreach Specialist Alexandra Mazzarisi.

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