Home » Uncategorized » Book Reviews for anyone interested in Medicine, compassion, positivity or Poetry?

Book Reviews for anyone interested in Medicine, compassion, positivity or Poetry?

I was recently given the opportunity to write recommendations of up to 5 books that I could recommend for a book review section in a popular emergency medicine website that I occasionally write for (Life in the fast lane). 

Recommend up to 5 books, that for whatever reason, you think people interested in emergency medicine and critical care MUST READ. Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poetry, whatever… The world’s your oyster! Submissions will close on March 12 2012. I’ll pull them all together into a blogpost (or series depending on how many there are…)

As usually I left the writing of these recommendations until the last minute (as entries were due in yesterday), however, I did start drafting my responses as soon as I read about this wonderful project. 

Straight away I thought “wow – this is a great opportunity to write about that book that I has really inspired me in recent times” Medicine and Compassion, and a book that shares my favourite prose, “Poetry”, with the medical community. I also thought that perhaps I could recommend a book that will help with a subspecialty I’m passionate about – International Emergency Medicine, after all I slaved away writing a chapter in this book with my supervisor and after recently seeing the book in print I think it could be of benefit to the specialty, and finally I wanted to recommend a book that is all about what I believe is most important in life – positivity and motivation, and “healthy thinking”. As for the 5th book – well I guess there has always got to be room for new opportunities so i’m always on the look out – What would your recommendation be?

1) Medicine and Compassion: A Tibetan Lama’s Guidance for Caregivers
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche (Author), M.D. David R. Shlim (Contributor)

This is a great book gives practical methods of how to cultivate “compassion” and find our inner beauty so that we can deliver better care to our patients and each other. Compassion is a quality that is easily lost under the stresses and time limitations of modern medicine, but with the logical strategies given in this book perhaps we can all improve this situation? The co-author Dr David R Shlim, is an ex-emergency doctor who gave up the pressures of emergency medicine in the US to work in Nepal in travel medicine. He set up a travel medicine clinic in Kathmandu and there started treating the Tibetan Buddhist monks who ‘taught’ him how to be a more compassionate doctor, something that he previously thought that maybe was something you either were or weren’t born with. One such learned monk was Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama, who was encouraged by Shlim to share his wisdom and insight with a greater audience through this book. 

The preface goes spells out “The book is timely, as it presents an antidote to the current climate in medicine that is dominated by high technology, and an increased intrusion in medical care by financial considerations.”

The book starts with a line that perhaps many of us can relate to, “medicine and compassion – I don’t think I ever heard those words spoken together in medical school” and goes on to be a simply written, enjoyable and inspiring read!

(I believe this is a “must read” for all doctors!!)

2) Playing God – Poems about medicine,  
Glenn Colquhoun (Author) 2007
Glenn nicely describes some every day events from the world of medicine, and highlights their humanity through the wonderful medium of poetry with this collection of poems. 

As one reader said who gave this book 5 stars;- “It was a long time between poetry reading when I read this book. This made me remember why poetry is so wonderful, good for the soul. This is my favourite NZ poet and anybody who has ever had a loved one fall ill, who has been ill themselves or just who feels compassion will enjoy these poems.”

I remember meeting Glenn back in 2002 when I was about to embark on my first registrar term, which happened to be a rigorous 6 month rotation in Intensive Care medicine at Waikato Hospital, New Zealand, and at that time Glenn was a GP from a remote area had just finished the same 6 months. On that day I remember seeing Glenn at the ward round table and after handing over his overnight patients after completing his last night shift for the term he gave us, a group of scared newbies registrars about to embark on one of the most challenging (but rewarding) ICU terms in the country, some useful encouragement which I remember to this day. 

He told us that no matter how scary the situation there was always guidance in this job, which turned out to be true, and when ever you felt most alone and out of your depth he always heard a voice, almost like the voice of God telling him what to do (only to realise later that this voice was none other than the deep South African accent of John Torrance, or perhaps one of the other Intensivist bosses, telling you to what to do through the department mobile phone!). There was so much humility, humor and wisdom in what he said I really wanted to check out his writings later on when I heard that there was a poetry book published by him, and certainly his writing conveys the same grace that he had in person!

(This is a good book for doctor poets!)

3) Textbook of Emergency Medicine – Vol. 1 & 2 , 
David, Brown, Nelson, Banerjee, Anantharaman, et al., (Authors)
Wolters Kluwer Health (Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins),Delhi, India 2012

This is an Emergency Medicine compendium and the first desk reference reference of it’s kind that was developed and published in Asia. 
Word from the Chief Editor, Dr Suresh David, “Most of our emergency medicine textbooks come from the USA. From an EM academic standpoint the world is divided into the West and the East. We are currently modifying and adapting from the West. So we created a book predominantly for the Eastern hemisphere. This book is a One-Stop-Shop for EM students, EMS personnel, EM postgraduates and ED administrators. He also said that the literature came from authors who were experts in their field. For example, the chapter on Diving Medicine was written by David Greene who is an Ex-Navy SEAL. The chapters on Frostbite and High Altitude Illness were written by Ken Zafren who has experience from Alaska and Himalayas. 

Dr. Judith Tintinalli, in the foreword, mentioned that this textbook matches practices to the resources and cultures of the region, and makes clear that EM is a tangible specialty in India and South-East Asia”

I think this book is would be a useful desk reference for anyone wanting to practice International Emergency Medicine in Asia, and in particular work or teach in the Indian subcontinent!

(By the way I wrote the chapter on treatment of anti cholinesterase poisoning with my supervisor, who is actually world expert on the topic, which is how I know about this book – so I just thought I’d declare that conflict of interest with this recommendation!) 

4) Healthy Thinking: How to Turn Life’s Lemons into Lemonade
Dr Tom Mulholland  
Dr Tom is an irrepressable enthusiast. His career has included being a Doctor, Pilot and Entrepreneur. He has been been a NZ Forest Service Forester, won a First Class Honours degree in Molecular biology and Graduated as a Medical Doctor from the University of Otago. Inspite of his impressive CV Dr Tom learned through personal experience that life sometimes serves us lemons when he lost control of his internet business and his marriage faltered.He writes about how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade as he has. His book has become a bestseller and his and personal speaking engagements for individuals and businesses make him one of the most in-demand motivators in Australasia. He now now also has his own television show Dr Tom – The Attitude Doctor.” – take from an internet book review (link above)

(I have only read sections of this book, but what I read was fantastic! Also my mum is a great fan of his books and her recommendations are worth their weight in gold, which why i included it in the list. I’m definitely going to get my own copy after writing this review and read the book fully mysefl!) 

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