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This is a list of the less well known books, that we recommend, for an application to study medicine. These books are a great tool for enhancing personal statements and preparing for interviews. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. So it is time to bring out the mental “FitBit” and swap the gym for the library.
When breath becomes air - Paul Kalanithi
This is one of the most amazing books. Life is finite, that is a fact. The way in which Dr Kalanithi approached the end is a lesson worth spreading and sharing. At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir. 1
The checklist manifesto – Atul gawande
We are human, we make mistakes. The difference between the mistakes that people in medicine make and say a cleaner, is the consequences. A doctor can make a fatal mistake simply by forgetting something as small as an allergy. So how do we prevent them? Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument for the checklist, which he believes to be the most promising method available in surmounting failure. Whether you're following a recipe, investing millions of dollars in a company or building a skyscraper, the checklist is an essential tool in virtually every area of our lives. Gawande explains how breaking down complex, high pressure tasks into small steps can radically improve everything from airline safety to heart surgery survival rates. Fascinating and enlightening, The Checklist Manifesto shows how the simplest of ideas could transform how we operate in almost any field. 2
Life at the Extremes - Frances Ashcroft
If you think Bear Grylls pushed the limits of human survival by eating live squids and sleeping in a camel's carcase, think again. This book covers many aspects of physiology that we experience almost daily, from the way we regulate heat and cold, the energy demands of speed and stamina, and aspects that we do not experience everyday, such as living in microgravity and high altitude. Although Ashcroft focuses primarily on the human body, she does provide examples of the adaptations of other animals and tries to explain why they have greater limits than our bodies will ever have. The book is full of little stories. There are stories that may make you squirm and say "stop! Don't tell me any more!" yet, there is a lingering curiosity of what else our body can handle which causes me to wonder, could I ever do that! This is a delightful read and it bears witness to the human tenacity.
Life Ascending - Nick Lane
How did life invent itself? Where did DNA come from? Powerful new research methods are providing vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining atomic structures of proteins, and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have helped explain evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane expertly reconstructs the history of life by describing the ten greatest inventions of evolution - including DNA, photosynthesis, sex, and sight - based on their historical impact, role in organisms today, and relevance to current controversies. Who would have guessed that eyes started off as light-sensitive spots used to calibrate photosynthesis in algae? Or that DNA’s building blocks form spontaneously in hydrothermal vents?3 Lane gives a gripping, lucid account of nature’s ingenuity, and the result is a strong recommendation for all Biologists interested in learning about the true origin of life.
Do no harm - Henry Marsh
Despite the fact that this book is well known; it is a must read for anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the psychology of a neurosurgeon. Marsh's style is admirably clear, concise and precise, as you'd expect from someone accustomed to writing postoperative and clinic notes in a hurry. Nevertheless, Marsh still provides us with an emotional roller coaster about his career in a very honest manner. The text shows us the harsh realities of the life as a medical professional and both the mental and physical effect it can have. This book has done the rare feat of moving David Cameron to tears, enough said. From the problems facing the bureaucratic layers of the NHS; to a blunt, and morbidly truthful description of neurosurgery. Hence its inclusion on this list.
You may not discover these books in the front of a bookstore, rather kept in hiding, but they certainly are worth finding and the time you spend reading them will be invaluable. Which other books would you recommend?
Srooley Harp is a Sixth Form student and aspiring Surgeon. Vamsi Thammandra is a first year medical student at St George’s University London.
1 http://paulkalanithi.com/book/ accessed 13th September 2016
2 https://books.google.com.ph/books/about/The_Checklist_Manifesto.html?hl=tl&id=7GJi0fsSmUoC accessed 13th September 2016
3 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6429264-life-ascending accessed 13th September 2016
What about "Trust me I'm a (junior) doctor" ? The whole series is a favourite of mine and "Holiday SOS" about repatriation medicine.
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