My Doctor Reading List

My Doctor Reading List

One of the most useful things that I did/am doing as part of my journey to try to get into medical school, is doing a lot of reading. Medicine fascinates me - even at a lay level, even if I never get into med school and become a doctor, medicine and being a doctor is just interesting to read about. Its just one of those things, thats why there are so many shows about doctors out there - and they aren't just watched by people who are or want to be doctors.

So here is a list of some of my favorite books that I've read.

"So, You Want to Be a Doctor, Eh? a Guidebook to Canadian Medical School" by Dr. Anne Berndl

This book is a gem for anyone who is considering becoming a doctor in Canada. It basically outlines the journey, from high school to applying, from choosing a specialty to all the required board exams - every step required to become a doctor. It also gives the reader a good idea of what its like to be a doctor - both the good and the bad.

Its a little dated though, being published in 2007 and there are some things in there that are no longer applicable - for example, in the book the author states that the MCAT is only available twice a year, which was the case before it became a computer based exam. Also, it has a summary of the requirements of the various medical schools, many of which have also changed since then. 

But overall, this is the book I would recommend that EVERY med school hopeful read.

"Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Pulitzer Prize this book received really speaks for itself. If you are interested in history and interested in cancer, this book is amazing. History was my single favorite course in high school and university, so I just gobbled this up. Even without much knowledge of medicine or cancer, this book is easy to understand. If you do have any knowledge of cancer, you will just get that much more out of this book.The history of cancer and how it's treatment over the years has evolved is fascinating. Granted, I haven't had much personal experience with it so it didn't hit a nerve the way I'm sure it would for those who have, but I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone.

"The Night Shift" by Dr. Brian Goldman

This is a great and easy read - I read it in like two days! Dr. Goldman, the author, has a great radio show of CBC called "White Coat, Black Art" (also available on podcast via the iTunes store) that discusses various topics in medicine, such as ethics, the direction medicine is heading and even specific areas of medicine. This book is written in much a similar fashion as his show.

It focuses on Dr. Goldman's career as an ER doctor in a downtown Toronto hospital. Its accounts of real experiences he has had as an ER doctor, beginning from his early training to more current events and he throws in a lot of the ethical dilemma's he has faced.

"The Secret Language of Doctors" by Dr. Brian Goldman

This book was very interesting as a lay person and someone who is interested in a career as a doctor. It was very enlightening, but entertaining and easy to read as well. Dr. Goldman discusses several phrases and acronyms used by medical professionals, often in front of the patients they are treating, to communicate or convey messages to each other without the patient knowing what they are talking about. Some of it is shameful, some necessary, some funny and some all three. Dr. Goldman said that the first time the secret of this "language" was ever really discussed was in the book "House of God" by Samuel Shem (also great, and which I discuss next).

"The House of God" by Samuel Shem

Sameul Shem is a pen name for Dr. Stephen Bergman, who wrote the book using that pseudonym because he was genuinely scared about the reaction the book would have when it was published in 1978. It is a work of fiction and follows a group of interns around a NYC hospital over the course of their first year of residency. It was scandalous because it was the first book that showed the ugly and unvarnished side to medical training - from affairs between the staff, to hospital politics but mostly about the poor working conditions that training doctors faced (and still face in many cases) and how patients are treated and talked about by doctors and the consequences of all of those. I think this book is a must read for anyone considering medicine - because honestly it would put many people off.

"Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

This is novel about twin brothers born out of a secret tryst between a brilliant British surgeon and his Indian nun medical assistant at a Catholic hospital in Ethiopia. The brothers both grow up to be surgeons like their father and exceptionally close but suffer through some tragedies that tear them apart. Set between New York City and Addis Ababa and between a modern American hospital and a much more primitive African one, the story is captivating. I loved this book because of the medical side but the story itself was fascinating and couldn't put it down. I would recommend this to anyone.

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