Non-Fiction Books as a Learning Tool in Training

The early days of cardiology fellowship are mentally draining. You flip from being an experienced medicine resident to a newly minted cardiologist-to-be, and it feels like you know nothing. Your brain is fried at the end of each day, but there’s always that nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to read more and tackle all of that new material.

At those times, I found non-fiction books by physician-writers to be a fantastic resource. These incredible authors have an uncanny ability to walk the line between medical experts providing state-of-the-art care and storytellers able to convey a message that anyone can understand.

These books gave me a way to put my clinical experiences into context, to learn the history of cardiology, and to develop a vocabulary I could use when discussing heart disease with patients. They were also a pleasure to read.

Here are a few of the books I loved, recommended to me by mentors/experts in our field:

  1. Heart: A History, by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar

In this book, Dr. Jauhar takes us through the story of cardiology as a medical discipline by putting advances in the field into the context of individual patients, discussing his own personal encounter with cardiovascular disease and how it has led to tragedy in his own family.

  1. The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives, by Dr. James S. Forrester

It turns out cardiac surgeons and cardiologists are quite the characters! Here, Dr. Forrester highlights the effervescent personalities in the field while walking us through his professional goal of stomping out coronary artery disease and its downstream consequences.

  1. Deep Medicine, by Dr. Eric Topol

The AI revolution is touching every aspect of our lives, and here Dr. Topol lays out a plethora of examples of its impact in medicine while offering insights on how things will look in the future.

  1. Digital Doctor, by Dr. Robert M. Wachter

The implementation of the EHR and its unintended consequence, medical errors, virtual patient encounters, Silicon Valley’s impact on healthcare, and diagnostics through smartphone algorithms are all discussed in Dr. Wachter’s work on the digital transformation of American medicine.

  1. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

This is a bonus, as Dr. Duckworth is the only non-physician doctor on this list, but she is a brilliant researcher who lays out her evidence for grit, passion, and persistence being key factors in individuals achieving remarkable accomplishments. Excellent motivation for trainee spending hours in the hospital!

There are many, many more books that fall into this category. Happy reading!

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