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8 Healthcare Books Recommended by Doximity Members

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

Looking for some books to add to your reading list? We asked our 2018–2019 Doximity Op-Med Authors to share their favorite healthcare books with you! Here are some of our favorite recommendations.

1. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

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Summary: A true story, this book follows a refugee family as they navigate their daughter’s epilepsy in the US healthcare system. Fadiman shines a light on how important cultural competency is to patient care.

Review: “I’ve read this book multiple times now through my career, and it touches me deeply each time. It exemplifies, via a multi-layered story, the importance of structural and cultural competency, of empathy, and of open-mindedness; most of all, it inspires me to continue working in pediatrics.” — Evelyn Lai, NP

2. In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Dr. Rana Awdish

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Summary: Dr. Awdish documents her journey through the healthcare system, as she gets treated for critical illness. As a clinician and patient, she provides a unique perspective on the patient-physician relationship.

Review: “Moving memoir of a physician’s life-threatening loss of a pregnancy. A must read for trainees and physicians on how we talk to patients about their illness.” — Lauren Kuwik, MD

3. Awakenings by Dr. Oliver Sacks

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Summary: Dr. Sacks shares the life stories of his patients that contracted encephalitis lethargica in the 1920’s. The book follows them to the 1960s, when Dr. Sacks “awakens” them using the new and innovative drug L-DOPA.

Review: “Not only is Dr. Sacks a remarkable and observant clinician but his ability to tell the stories of his patients is unparalleled.” — Emily Gibson, MD

4. How Doctors Think by Dr. Jerome Groopman

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Summary: Reflecting on his own experiences, Dr. Groopman gives insight into how physicians make decisions and why they succeed and fail. He provides suggestions about how to change medical thinking to improve the health outcomes and the patient-physician relationship.

Review: “Dr. Groopman reminds readers of the pitfalls that exist during patient-physician interviews and interactions. He shares meaningful stories surrounding positively changed outcome for patients when physicians take their time and avoid errors of thinking.” — Cherilyn Cecchini, MD

5. The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr

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Summary: Written by a sociologist, this book examines the development of the US healthcare system over time and explains why it does not look like the healthcare of other countries.

Review: “This book looks at the important history of healthcare in the United States and how we’ve ended up where we are. It is well-written and provides insight that every physician should understand.” — Kyle Jones, MD

6. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Dr. Henry Marsh

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Summary: In this book, a neurosurgeon reflects on the stories and takeaways of his career treating patients. He shares his regrets, lessons learned, and highlights for a holistic look into the life of a physician.

Review: “Marsh deftly explains the often life-threatening consequences of his interventions in a way that is engaging. His humility while reliving these episodes is refreshing.” — Kunal Sindhu, MD

7. With the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Dr. Kathryn Mannix

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Summary: This book tackles the intimidating topic of death as Dr. Mannix shares patient stories from her career in palliative care. Simply, this book humanizes death and provides suggestions for ways other healthcare providers can broach the subject.

Review: “It is a book written by a very experienced and caring palliative care physician based on true patient stories. The stories ring true to clinicians as we care for patients, but they also help us understand their emotions, worries and the pain and suffering they undergo at the end of life. Each story gently teaches a life lesson.” — Gul Madison, MD

8. House of God by Samuel Shem

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Summary: A satire, this novel follows the experience of a few freshly-graduated medical students as they navigate residency. With this book, Shem opens up a discussion about medical education and ethics.

Review: “It’s a classic. Dark, funny, disturbed, timeless. It cuts to the heart of the underbelly of medicine.” — Irene Tien, MD

Do you have a favorite healthcare related book that isn’t listed here? Share it with us in the comments!

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

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