I read all the time in medical school — but it’s rare that I am reading something other than a textbook, research study, or study guide. I used to be a voracious reader; I’m still bitter about a summer reading contest I lost when I was in elementary school. Now my only consistent non-school reading is the Sunday Routine feature each Sunday in the New York Times.
I miss the days I would take the train from Philly to NYC and sit in Central Park with a book and a chocolate chip brioche from Levain Bakery before going to see a Broadway show (#dreams). Now, my nightstand is stacked with books I’d like to read, but many nights I find it too mentally draining to read and put on Netflix instead. Medical school is exhausting and overwhelming, and the amount of facts I need to read and remember makes little room for anything else. At night, there’s just nothing like watching an episode of The Office for the 100th time to lull you to sleep.
Last week, I finally did something about my lack of reading and attended a book club put on by our medical humanities interest group. Over wine and cheese, we chatted about a some short stories focused on the interactions between physicians and pediatric patients. Some aspects of the stories felt dated (#Chekhov) but a lot of the themes are still incredibly relevant. We discussed empathy, patient perception of physician actions, compassion, and got a little introspective about our own hopes for the relationships we will build with future patients.
Discussing these short stories with my classmates reminded me how much more there is to medicine than prescribing the right medication and making a diagnosis.
I’d highly recommend checking out at least one of these short stories!
- A Doctor’s Visit — Anton Chekhov
- William Carlos Williams — The Use of Force
- Raymond Carver — A Small Good Thing
- People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babblings in Peed Onk — Lorrie Moore
- Apollo — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
And if you’re looking for a longer read, here’s what currently on my nightstand. I’ve really been slacking on reading fiction but I’d love to read some over my spring break, so send me all the recommendations!
- In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Dr. Rana Awdish, MD
- What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Dr. Danielle Ofri, MD
- The Swamp by Michael Grunwald
- The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
My goal is to finish all four of these books — plus Becoming by Michelle Obama, which I somehow haven’t even started!! — by the end of the school year. I’m hoping spring break will help me reach my goal!
What have you read lately? Do you find reading an important part of your life?