Physician authors share the heart of health

Physicians often do other things besides practice medicine. Many have hobbies and travel extensively. Many do spiritual ministry and other volunteer community activity.

I know doctors who dance, sing, play instruments, act, and do comedy. Others own and manage side businesses.

But probably the most common non-practice activity that doctors do is write-like me, and other physician bloggers.

When I started blogging 4 years ago, I knew few other physician bloggers, but the number has grown so large I know few of them now.

Doctors write health and medical books and blogs of course, but they cover other topics too-finances, travel, food, family, parenting, spirituality, fashion. They’ll usually throw in their unique perspective as a physician in approaching these non-medical topics.

And they don’t all write non-fiction; doctors write novels too, some of which get made into movies.

Books reviewed here- a list

I’ve reviewed or referenced several books written by physicians. In this post, I’m listing links to those reviews. along with a brief excerpt. I hope you’ll bookmark this page so you can come back and read all of them if you don’t get to them all now.

Enjoy exploring the HEART of health with these physician writers.

(This post contains affiliate links which, by paying a commission if used for a purchase, help fund this blog. )

The Point of it All

If you wondered why Pulitzer prize winning journalist Charles Krauthammer quit his medical career to write a political column for the Washington Post newspaper, you’ll learn the answer in his newest and sadly last book. He explained

“I left psychiatry to start writing…because I felt history happening outside the examining room door. I wanted to…because some things matter, some things need to be said, some things need to be defended.”

Being Mortal

Dr. Gawande poignantly describes this process by sharing in detail his  father’s cancer diagnosis, treatment, progression, hospice care and death. He shows how difficult a process this can be, given that even he and his parents, all of whom are physicians, struggled to come to terms with the reality of terminal illness and the dying process. Though they were all familiar with and experienced in dealing with the medical system, they still felt unprepared to face the decisions required at the end of life. But in the end, both he and his father felt at peace with the outcome and Dr. Gawande senior did experience “a good life-all the way to the very end.”

What Patients Say , What Doctors Hear

As a physician, this was not an easy book to read; Dr. Ofri does not hesitate to tell us physicians what we need to do better in our communication with our patients.

But she also makes it plain to patients that you have a role and a vested stake in communicating your concerns, questions, and even grievances to the physicians who care for you; that without such information, your physicians cannot provide optimal diagnosis and treatment for you.

When Breath Becomes Air

This memoir is not so much a diary of what happened to Dr. Kalanithi as what happened within him as he confronted his own mortality and chose not to let it define the remainder of his life.

On the copyright page, “Death and Dying” is included in the list of categories for this book. However, you will not find “how to die” instructions here. Instead, you will learn how one man and his family chose to live despite knowing that he would  soon die.

Working Stiff

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

Healing People, Not Patients

Health care professionals will find Dr. Weinkle’s concepts an attractive alternative to “burnout”, an encouragement to remember why we entered the profession in the first place, and a challenge to restore the personal touch that makes medicine truly an art. 

Patients will find explanations about why medical care is at times fragmented, uncoordinated, and unproductive, will understand the challenge that their own physicians face in providing effective care, and understand how they can be part of the solution. 

sharing the HEART of health

I thank my colleagues for sharing the HEART of health, both in the exam room, the operating room, the emergency room, the clinic, and at their own computer.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. And check out my resources page where you’ll find links that will help you and help support this blog. Thanks so much.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me.

                              Dr. Aletha 

I would be grateful for your support of these affiliate links and advertisements, they help me share the heart of health through this blog.

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The Point of It All, by Charles Krauthammer-a review

If you wondered why Pulitzer prize winning journalist Charles Krauthammer quit his medical career to write a political column for the Washington Post newspaper, you’ll learn the answer in his newest and sadly last book. He explained

“I left psychiatry to start writing…because I felt history happening outside the examining room door. I wanted to…because some things matter, some things need to be said, some things need to be defended.”

THE POINT OF IT ALL :
A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors

Dr. Charles Krauthammer died in 2018. In 2016 he started a new book but in 2017 was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment was initially successful, but multiple serious complications kept him hospitalized for many months during which he continued writing with his son Daniel’s and his wife Robyn’s help.

But the cancer recurred and this time further treatment would not be successful. We can thank Daniel for honoring his father’s dying wishes and finishing the book and facilitating the publication of The Point of It All.

Daniel wrote a helpful introduction to the book, explaining how it was put together. He also offered some personal reflections about his relationship with his father, and some insight into Dr. Krauthammer’s character and personality that he tended to keep private.

“My father’s writing…is not just thought-provoking but also feeling-provoking. His writing opens the mind, combining passion with intelligence, beauty with concreteness. “

(This post contains affiliate links which, by paying a commission if used for a purchase, help fund this blog. )

Book outline

The book collects some of Dr. Krauthammer’s Washington Post columns, transcripts of speeches he gave, and text of a book on foreign policy that he was writing but had not published.

Most casual readers of Krauthammer will want to read Part I-People, where he discusses such diverse topics as

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Australia
  • Memorials
  • Chess and Sports
  • The space program
  • Medicine
  • Part II -Man and Society
  • Part III-Politics, Foreign and Domestic
  • Part IV-Competing Visions-America’s Role and the Course of World History
  • Part V-Speaking in the First Person


You can read the book straight through, or skip around, reading whatever chapter titles catch your attention. It was hard for me to pass up titles like

  • Why I love Australia
  • Man vs. Computer:Still a Match
  • Pluto and Us
  • They Die with Their Right On
  • Thought Police on Patrol
  • Just Leave Christmas Alone
  • The Climate Pact Swindle
  • Beauty and Soul

My favorite part of this book was the shortest-Part V, the few essays he wrote about himself, something Daniel said he didn’t like to do and would not have included.

“I’ve never wanted to make myself the focus of my career.”

And so in Beauty and Soul, he credits his wife of over 40 years with his success.

Her (Robyn’s) beauty and soul have sustained me these many years. I was merely the scribe.

Dr. Krauthammer, upon accepting a writing award

THE POINT OF IT ALL-A BOOK REVIEW

As a physician, I am intrigued and inspired knowing  Dr. Krauthammer completed medical school and residency after and despite sustaining a spinal cord injury which caused quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down, preventing use of his arms and legs).   (This no doubt made his treatment and recovery from cancer surgery all the more difficult.) 

According to his son Daniel, his father also did not like to publicize or dwell on his or anyone else’s disability. He preferred to focus on what he could do, not on what he couldn’t do.

This excerpt is from a Washington Post column that is included in this book.

After watching videos in which  The price of fetal parts was discussed over lunch, Dr. Krauthammer wrote

“Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us.

It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

ultrasound image of a 4 month old fetus
a prenatal ultrasonographic image of fetus at the four-month point in its gestation; public domain image used courtesy of the CDC/ Jim Gathany

There is more division about the first trimester because one’s views of the early embryo are largely a matter of belief, often religious belief.

One’s view of the later-term fetus, however, is more a matter of what might be called sympathetic identification — seeing the image of a recognizable human infant and, now, hearing from the experts exactly what it takes to “terminate” its existence.

The role of democratic politics is to turn such moral sensibilities into law. This is a moment to press relentlessly for a national ban on late-term abortions.”

THINGS THAT MATTER: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics

My review of his memoir THINGS THAT MATTER has been one of my most viewed posts. If you haven’t read it I recommend it also.

Charles Krauthammer-THINGS THAT MATTER

I enjoyed listening to  Dr. Krauthammer’s memoir THINGS THAT MATTER: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics  

This book is a collection of  his more memorable opinion pieces as well as a memoir of his life, including medical school, his life-changing injury, psychiatric medical practice, his  journalism career, hobbies (chess and baseball) and life with his family.

A life with no regrets

Dr. Krauthammer wrote his last piece for The Washington Post barely two weeks before his death and that post concludes his final book. Dr. Krauthammer wrote,

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

Thanks for reviewing the thoughts and feelings of the late Charles Krauthammer with me. Please share your reactions to Dr. Krauthammer’s work and share this post with your friends.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. And check out my resources page where you’ll find links that will help you and help support this blog. Thanks so much.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

                              Dr. Aletha