Physician, help thyself: 5 terrific advice books doctors recommend

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

As guardians of the nation’s health and well-being, physicians must broaden their horizons beyond medical textbooks and recognize the value of insights from outside medicine to better serve their patients and navigate the complex health care landscape.

This interest in advice, or self-help, books can help transform individual physician practices and support in innovative health care leadership.

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As the stethoscope meets the bookshelf, physicians are finding that absorbing penetrating insights in the best advice books can give them a deeper understanding of their roles as decision-makers and influencers in society.

Whether doctors or medical students are in search of books to read for relaxation or to learn more about a particular topic, the AMA “Shadow Me” Specialty Series—which offers advice directly from physicians about life in their specialties—provides some outstanding recommendations.

Here, in alphabetical order by author, are five advice books that AMA members who have participated in the “Shadow Me” Specialty Series recommend reading.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

“I read this book before ever considering medical school and I continue to draw from its principles daily,” said Joanne Loethen, MD, an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist. “Though many perceive it as a book geared toward sales and business, its content applies to any profession that relies on person-to-person interactions.

“Medical school teaches us the facts and science of medicine, but without also learning to be an effective communicator, leader, and the ability to gain the trust of others, we are limited in what we can accomplish,” Dr. Loethen added.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

By Stephen R. Covey, DRE

Diana Ramos, MD, an ob-gyn, said this book “reminds us about relationships and how to deal with ourselves, family and patients.”

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

By Carol S. Dweck, PhD

“The gaps in your knowledge do not define who you are—instead, they are the start of your new knowledge,” said Louito Edje, MD, MHPE, a family physician. “This book encourages you to embrace challenge, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from useful feedback and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.”

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

By Amy C. Edmonson, PhD

Dr. Edje also recommends this book because “if you lead, you should be leading an organization in which there is psychological safety.”

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg

This is “a great book for women. It helps us realize the limitations we set for ourselves and, more importantly, suggests some solutions,” said Dr. Ramos.

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For nonfiction recommendations, here are eight great books hand-picked by physicians for your reading list. And for medical students and physicians who are more interested in reading fiction, here are five fantastic novels doctors recommend.

In addition, these 10 wonderful physician memoirs offer inspiring accounts of life in medicine.

The AMA Specialty Guide simplifies medical students’ specialty selection process, highlights major specialties, details training information, and provides access to related association information. It is produced by FREIDA™, the AMA Residency & Fellowship Database®.