Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Medicine Men

I'm very excited because my two favorite medical writers have books coming out! What does that say about me, that I even have two favorite medical writers? My husband, who used to write for the TV drama ER, would say that Americans are endlessly fascinated with medicine--that show, for example, has been on the air since 1994. And we are all patients at some time in our lives. As my husband says, nowadays in America, most people have a hospital bracelet put on them when they're coming into the world and when they're going out of it.

I'm not sure if that's it, but I'm always interested in what doctors have to say about the world of medicine, it's strengths and its failures.

Dr. Jerome Groopman, a Harvard professor and physician whose essays I always enjoy in the New Yorker, has written a new book, How Doctors Think. His book was reviewed Sunday in the New York Times Book Review (by doctor-turned-writer Michael Crichton). Groopman's book is mostly about the doctor-patient relationship, and how it affects the doctor's diagnosis. According to the review, Groopman talks about how communication between doctor and patient is key to making a good diagnosis, yet doctors don't always receive training to help them communicate with patients.

Today's New York Times has an article about my other favorite doctor and New Yorker essayist, Dr. Atul Gawande, a Rhodes scholar and surgeon whose new book Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, comes out this week. This book is mostly made up of Gawande's essays from the New Yorker, and the review says it's theme is the "imperfection of modern medicine and the need for doctors to strive to do better." Hmmm...seems to have something in common with Dr. Groopman's book.

It's a bonanza of medical writing by the smart guys. Looks like I'm going to have to read both.

4 comments:

Jen said...

how about the groopman book for book club???

Gentle Reader said...

well, I'm into it, but not sure the group will be...

J.S. Peyton said...

I'm also a fan of Groopman. I've always enjoyed his articles in the New Yorker. But, since I've never read a book on medicine or on doctors for that matter, I'm rather hesitant to buy it. I'm unsure whether six magazine pages on medicine is all I can handle...

Gentle Reader said...

J.S.--I hear you. Groopman and Gawande are great at magazine length, but I'm not so sure about a whole book. But since my husband wants to buy them, I figure I'll give them a try, and see just how much medical writing I can take...

I'll let you know what I think! Thanks for the comment.