Top 4 Books Every Medical Student Should Read

“Medicines cure diseases, but only doctors can cure patients. “– Carl Jung

A single thought can drastically alter someone’s life.

But what if it’s not just a concept or a film, but a whole book?

In this article, you will find 4 influential medical books that have inspired many people to pursue careers as doctors and save lives. The stories persuaded them how interesting medicine is, how important one’s life is, and that we all can change the world for the better.

1. The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D.T. Max

This book is a must-read. It balances medical theory, facts and case examples really well. By the title, you may think that the book is some kind of family drama, but in truth, the story is more about the history of prion diseases. 

There are three methods of prion diseases infection – genetic, direct contact, and spontaneous. If you choose to read The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, you will learn more about Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI). FFI is a disease that strikes its victims in middle age, causing complete insomnia, exhaustion, and slow, painful death. 

At the centre of the book is a Venetian family whose members are FFI victims. The book also covers the roots of the so-called “Mad Cow Disease”.Furthermore, it investigates whether or not a native Australian group known as The Fore were cannibals and how this relates to the kuru illness, which was subsequently identified as prion disease.

The Family That Couldn’t sleep is an inspiring book. It shows the determination and devotion of doctors who have sworn to protect and cure people. The book is exceptional for medical students because it takes the reader through all stages of a new disease, from discovery to the latest research and knowledge.

2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

This book has ignited a passion for neuroscience among many medical students. It was written by neurologist Oliver Sacks who has seen many strange cases during his career and wrote about them. One of his patients had visual agnosia, which made him unable to recognise faces. The title of the book, as you can guess, derives from there.

The book is filled with many intriguing essays. It’s divided into 4 sections “Losses”, “Excesses”, “Transports”, and “The World of the Simple”, which are dedicated to specific brain functions.

Oliver Sacks is a true scientist that explores human nature but is also an artist in some sense. When you read this book, you don’t feel like reading a book filled with scientific facts but a novel. He truly has a unique view of the world, and his quotes reflect precisely that:

“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy, physiology, and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.” – Oliver Sacks

3. The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death, by Susan Pories, M.D., Sachin H. Jain, and Gordon Harper, M.D.

Between the pages of this book, you will find the emotional side of medicine. The Soul of a Doctor is a collection of essays written by medical students. By reading the book, you will learn what it is like to be a medical student facing actual patients on rotations. 

In this book, you will get a glimpse of how physicians developed to get where they are right now. In advance, you will get answers to the question about why some might seem emotionless and rigid. Have they always been this way? And how do others manage to preserve their warmth? 

Overall The Soul of a Doctor covers the complexity of many ethical dilemmas. The essays are brilliant and insightful and can be very beneficial for every medical student.

4. The Premed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Interview: Be Prepared, Perform Well, Get Accepted. By Ryan Gray, MD

This is the only book you will need to prepare for a med school interview. It gives you clear insights into the admission process. Although the book was published in 2016, it is constructive and can provide a lot of knowledge to pre-medical students. 

Additionally, M.D. Gray has gathered more than 160 real questions you can hear in an interview and crucial insights into answering them. 

You will understand why the student admissions team asks you some particular questions and how you can articulate that you have the specific qualities they want to see in you.

The Premed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Interview can be a page-turner for international students who study medicine abroad in English. As a medical student in Europe, you can prepare for the most asked questions and let go of the stress caused by entry requirements.

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