6 Books for Future Doctors to Read, Part 2

Medical students and aspiring health professionals may already read their fair share of literature, but check out these books for future doctors. Click here to check out Part 1!

“Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones

The opioid epidemic is perhaps our greatest public health crisis. To put this in perspective, overdoses claim more lives in the U.S. annually than car accidents. As a doctor, you’ll very likely see patients who are struggling with addiction. In “Dreamland,” Sam Quinones humanizes these patients by depicting how powerful opioids lay claim on our nervous systems. Quinones also delves deep into the forces that have driven the epidemic, including pharmaceutical companies’ heavy reliance on barebones research to support the widespread usage of pain meds.

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi was an accomplished neurosurgery resident, well on his way to becoming a prominent surgeon-researcher. But, his life plans completely changed when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. In “When Breath Becomes Air,” Kalanithi examines the meaning of life when on the brink of death. Although Kalanithi passed away in 2015, his memory lives on with his beautifully written, insightful memoir.

“Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery” by Henry Marsh

In “Do No Harm,” Henry Marsh talks about his life as a neurosurgeon. Aspiring doctors will learn a ton from this book, as Marsh goes into gritty detail on what it’s like to remove tumors from the most intricate parts of our brain.

“What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine” by Danielle Ofri

For doctors, practicing medicine can be emotionally draining. After putting your heart and soul into treating a patient, there are times when it, unfortunately, doesn’t pay off. In “What Doctors Feel,” physician Danielle Ofri talks about these situations. Using personal anecdotes from her medical career, Ofri details the emotional world of medicine, and offers ways to cope with both failure and success.

“Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction” by Samir Okasha

“Philosophy of Science” isn’t a book of medicine, but it’s an especially useful book for future doctors who are also interested in pursuing research. In his book, Samir Okasha discusses both the concept and practice of science—which is the foundation of medicine. A number of concepts are explained, including scientific reasoning, realism vs. anti-realism, and conflicts between science and religion.  

“Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients” by Ben Goldacre

For doctors, prescribing medications is commonplace. And, most of the time, we don’t really stop to think about where these drugs came from, or the research studies that evaluated their safety and efficacy. In “Bad Pharma,” Ben Goldacre takes a deep dive into how pharmaceutical companies misuse clinical trials to get their drugs on market. Goldacre’s evaluation is well-supported and eye-opening. After reading, you’ll want to uncover more about our drugs—which is exactly what Goldacre intended.

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Imaz Athar

Imaz Athar is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in Neuroscience and Sociology. He aspires to become a physician and plans on attending medical school in Fall 2017. Imaz fell in love with the art of writing at a young age and is currently the Publisher of Pitt's undergraduate-run science magazine The Pitt Pulse. When he's not writing or keeping up with classes, Imaz enjoys running, playing basketball, watching Empire, singing (in the shower), and listening to all kinds of music.