If you’re firmly in the doctor camp, and even if you’re on the fence about your career choice, I’d recommend taking a deep breath and sitting down with a good book or two to get a feel for what’s ahead.
Where to find the best books for aspiring doctors?
How better to prepare for a life as a doctor than to immerse yourself in good books about your future profession? It’s amazing to me how many high school and college students carelessly pick a medical career without imagining what wonders (and demands) their future career and life will hold.
I’ve put together a list of highly reviewed books I consider some of the best books for aspiring doctors, to offer just that! Most are penned by doctors themselves, at different points in their career. The stories are personal, colorful, profound. If you finish three or four of the books below, I guarantee you’ll have a better feel for how you’ll want to approach medicine once you get to its doors. And if it’s not the career for you, you’ll know that too!
I’ll add to this list as I find more highly reviewed resources, so keep your eye on this space…they’re all available on Amazon with just a click!
“Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science,” 1st Edition, by Atul Gawande, M.D. (top ten!)
This will enlighten anyone on the MD path, and even practicing physicians. It’s a compilation of stories highlighting Gawande’s most challenging cases in practice.
“Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance,” by Atul Gawande
Another great book from Dr. Gawande. This one is a compilation of essays that examine issues facing doctors, from insurance to lawsuits.
“How Doctors Think,” by Jerome Groopman, M.D.
This book is filled with great advice for medical professionals who want to learn to balance clinical formulas and data with their own insights and intuitions. Great emphasis on improving the communications between doctors and their patients.
“The Soul of Medicine: Tales from the Bedside,” by Sherwin Nuland, M.D.
Chapters by several doctors in differing specialties highlighting their most memorable patients. Touching and impactful.
“Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs,” by Michael J. Collins, M.D.
A delicious memoir of Dr. Collins from his days as a construction worker to a Mayo Clinic residency and beyond.
“Hot Lights, Cold Steel,” by Michael J. Collins, M.D.
You’ll go inside the operating room with Dr. Collins during his four years of residency at Mayo Clinic. Excellent storytelling!
“Gifted Hands,” by Ben Carson, M.D.
This book follows the remarkable path of Dr. Carson from life in the ghetto to celebrated neurosurgeon. This book was also made into an inspirational movie.
“The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death,” by Susan Pories, M.D., Sachin H. Jain and Gordon Harper, M.D.
This fascinating read follows several medical students at Harvard Medical School during their years as med students. The tales they tell are riveting and inspiring.
“Intern Blues,” by Robert Marion, M.D.
The life of a medical intern is richly fleshed out here, with a focus on several pediatric interns who kept detailed diary entries about their experiences.
“Med School Confidential,” by Robert H. Miller and Daniel M. Bissell
This covers everything pre-med students need to know. In fact it’s a literal compendium. Reading it will ensure lots less surprises and better prep.
“In Stitches,” by Anthony Youn, M.D.
Dr. Youn’s memoir is both funny and heartwarming. It will give aspiring pre-meds a peek into the process of becoming a doctor.
With a comedic style and plenty of wit, Au describes her path to becoming an anesthesiologist, marrying her med school classmate and her path to motherhood.
This book is described aptly as a “compilation of richly human clinical tales” by pre-med Alexandra Abel. It’s a great way to get oriented to your life in medicine.
“The Checklist Manifesto,” by Atul Gawande
Another great read from Dr. Gawande, where he addresses the reality of failure, while probing the complexity of the responsibilities medical professionals must juggle.
“The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
You’ll surprise yourself with how intrigued you become with this biologic and historic story of cancer. It’s truly riveting and illuminating in its approach.
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death,” by Jean-Domonique Bauby
This memoir by a 44-year-old man trapped in a non-functioning body (following a rare stroke to his brain stem) skillfully and poignantly reveals the painful existence of a wistful, yet determined and witty young father.
“How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America,” by Otis Webb Brawley, M.D. and Paul Goldberg
Dr. Browley, an oncologist and officer of the American Cancer Society, gives a rather pained look at the practice of healthcare in America today, focusing on deficits that handicap patients and their recovery. The villains are insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and even doctors themselves. He calls for better ways of treating the sick.
This book is exactly what its subtitle says it is: a compendium starting from Day One in medical school through practice. It’s very readable and enjoyable, and gives spotlights to various specialties to help med school students learn about specific medical practice paths.
So there you have it: The best books for aspiring doctors, or at least the beginning of a good list. Let me know if you find some good books to add to my list!
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