Best Books For Prospective Medical Students

Earlier this week I asked people for book recommendations that you should read before applying for medical school and I got some great responses so I thought I’d share them here. You can obviously just read these for fun but they should at least be kind of helpful for medical hopefuls.

  • Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
    I actually bought this book because I was looking for a ~lighter~ introduction that was still informative. The book focuses on exposing scandals and data but it does it in a way that is funny and easy to read. It’s not strictly scientific but it is good to get a look at the problems within science/medicine right now. He also has a Guardian column if you’re not feeling like investing a whole book about it.
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
    In this book Gawande explains how checklists can improve care and save lives, as well as benefit many other areas of society, including investing and restaurants. It includes examples of how he’s seen it work and it’s also reader-friendly if you aren’t prepared for lots of medical jargon.
  • Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by Tony Hope
    Medical ethics is something you should definitely know before going to any medical school interview. Sometimes it can be daunting to search through online content so hopefully this book will give you a head start and some basic ideas about medical ethics so you have the knowledge to go on and research more on your own.
  • Confessions of a GP (and Further Confessions of a GP) by Dr Benjamin Daniels
    A great inside look at what it’s like to be a GP and it’s combined with humour and short chapters so it’s and easy book to dip in and out of whenever you have time, probably one of the better books to read if you’re busy with exams.
  • Trust Me, I’m a (Junior) Doctor – by Max Pemberton
    Similar to the previous book, it might help you to get a better idea of what it’s actually like to be a doctor. It’s once again funny whilst also including some serious points such as problems with the NHS at the minute and how to cope with mistakes. Could also be good for those that are coming to the end of medical school as a form of preparation, I suppose.
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
    This book also takes a look at a more psychological side of medicine and it’s a classic that appears on many medical pre-reading lists. It talks you through some of his most interesting case studies and acts as a great introduction to subjects like neuroscience.
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    This is a unique look from the perspective of a neurosurgeon that becomes a patient after being diagnosed with lung cancer. It deals with the sensitive issue of death and shows his journey from a medical student to a fully trained neurosurgeon. I’d definitely suggest reading it for a new perspective on being a doctor.
  • Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
    This book offers insight on what it’s like to be a neurosurgeon and have the responsibility of cutting into someone’s brain. Unlike other books it does contain a little more technical vocab so if you’re really new to the subject then you might need to have a dictionary handy. Regardless, I’d still suggest it and I have got it on my to read list.
  • Better by Atul Gawande
    If we’re honest then any of Gawande’s books are a great read for someone hoping to study medicine. The book covers a whole range of topics from polio outbreaks to handwashing and shows how even the simplest of changes can drastically improve the survival rates of patient.
  • When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank Jr Vertosick
    Another book by a neurosurgeon (clearly they are just the types of doctors that are most likely to write a book). The book follows his journey from being a medical student to being fully qualified and looks at several case studies. According to Amazon reviews it’s sometimes emotionally difficult to read but it’s still a great book to read if you want a look at the harsh realities of brain surgery. If read alongside Do No Harm then it can provide an interesting comparison between the British and American healthcare systems.

These were the best books I was recommended but please tell me if you know of any more and I’ll add them to the list. Also, please bear in mind that I haven’t read any of these (yet) and my descriptions are based of off things that people told me and what I could gather from the Amazon description/reviews. If I’m totally wrong about any of them, then don’t be afraid to tell me and I’ll update the post.

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  1. Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby is a good one too. It just got releases in March; very fascinating how he deals with the rules and regulations that come with being a doctor. And When Breath Becomes Air is my favourite book of all time!!! Great recommendations xx

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