After all the years spent in medical school and residency, one thing I am used to doing is reading. It’s amazing the amount of information we have to read in order to amass the knowledge needed to perform our jobs at optimum level.
I don’t recall reading for leisure while in medical school…possibly neither in residency. When I graduated residency, I had a few weeks off for vacation and I remember being excited to finally be able to read a non-medical book. I can’t remember which book I read first but I had a friend in Boston who was kind enough to engage me in a book exchange. It was great because he was an avid reader and sent me great recommendations. Since then, to maintain my leisure reading schedule, I continue to search for new great reads to add to my Kindle library. I am partial to non fiction, historical fiction, classics and biographies.
On a recent search for what to read next, I came across a collection of books by written by doctors. You should know, I am fascinated when I learn about doctors who break out of the traditional one-dimensional role in which the world tends to see us. When I rotated in the Burn Unit my attending, an older man well into his late 50’s, revealed to me that he self publishes (using pseudonym) mystery books on Amazon.com. He expressed that there is room for doctors who want to produce non fiction and fictional written art.
One of the first books I read written by a physician was The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat where Oliver Sacks, a Neurologist shared case stories about his patients. It came to my mind that one thing unique to doctors or anyone working in health care is the intimate view of the experiences of our patients. Whether we decide to chronicle it or not, every patient we encounter tells a story; we observe birth, happiness, sadness, disease, suffering, conflicts, struggles, death and many more. We have a rich pipeline of experiences to draw from if not from our own.
Writing is often times a form of therapy, especially if writing from a place of reflection and it’s also a way to pass information unto others. Some health care providers who write do so about their patient encounters. Others are mainly non fictional writers, like my prior attending who drew inspiration from a childhood passion: love of mystery stories. A close friend of mine and medical school classmate is on the journey towards completing her first book. Although her piece is not medically related, I am amazed and proud of her given that she had no formal training in writing as an art form. I can’t wait to read her work.
Below is a list which proves doctors not only heal, but they can also write! A few of the authors I am familiar with while others were new to me.
I also found a list of nurse authors and poets as well, also posted below. Names published are listed in no particular order.
- Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, & The mountains echoed
- Ferrol Sams- Run with the Horsemen
- Walker Percy- The Moviegoer
- Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt– The Pact
- Abraham Verghese- Cutting for Stone
- Michael Crichton- Jurassic Park, A Case of Need
- Atul Gawande- Being Mortal
- Tess Gerritsen– Rizzoli & Isles Series (There is a current TV series based on these novels)
- Oliver Sacks- The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
- Robin Cook– Death Benefit
Nurse Writers and Poets
- Madeleine Mysko
- Cortney Davis
- Judy Schaefer
- Paula Sergi
- Belle Waring
- Constance Studer
- Celia Brown
- Jeanne LeVasseur
- Dana Shuster
- Veneta Masson
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