Coronavirus reading list for healthcare professionals
No matter what is going on in the world, a good book can provide insight, comfort, or a welcome escape. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and many of us are seeking entertainment at home or a way to unwind after a long day, reading can offer some respite.
If you’re looking for something new to read, below you’ll find some of our recommendations, specifically selected for healthcare professionals. Enjoy!
The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion, and kindness.
Moving through her twenty-year career, Christie recounts some of her most intense and deeply moving experiences; from nursing a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, to the pain and privilege of washing the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships… welcome to the life of a junior doctor. Hilarious, horrifying and heart-breaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know (and more than a few things you didn’t), about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.
Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd
As the country’s top forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd has spent a lifetime uncovering the secrets of the dead.
When death is sudden or unexplained, it falls to Shepherd to establish the cause. Each post-mortem is a detective story in its own right – and Shepherd has performed over 23,000 of them. Through his skill, dedication and insight, Dr Shepherd solves the puzzle to answer our most pressing question: how did this person die?
From serial killer to natural disaster, perfect murder to freak accident, Shepherd takes nothing for granted in pursuit of truth. And while he’s been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it’s often the less well-known encounters that prove the most perplexing, intriguing and even bizarre. In or out of the public eye, his evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads.
But a life in death, bearing witness to some of humanity’s darkest corners, exacts a price and Shepherd doesn’t flinch from counting the cost to him and his family.
The Key by Kathryn Hughes
1956 – It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day at work as a student nurse at Ambergate Asylum. When she meets a young girl committed by her father, and a pioneering physician keen to try out the various ‘cures’ available for mental illness. Little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is going to change their lives for ever…
2006 – Sarah is drawn to the abandoned Ambergate Asylum and whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase in an attic belonging to a female patient who was admitted fifty years earlier. The shocking contents of the suitcase lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only Sarah may have the power to put right.
Confessions of a Male Nurse by Michael Alexander
From stampeding nudes to inebriated teenagers, young nurse Michael Alexander never really knew what he was getting himself into. But now, sixteen years since he was first launched into his nursing career (as the only man in a gynaecology ward), he’s pretty much dealt with everything. Body parts that come off in his hands; teenagers with phantom pregnancies; doctors unable to tell the difference between their left and right; violent drunks; singing relatives; sexism… and a whole lot of nudity.
Tales of a Midwife by Maria Anderson
Maria Anderson trained as an NHS nurse and went on to become a midwife, a job she has adored for over twenty years.
After fainting whilst attending her first three births, Maria went from nervous trainee to assured midwife and in her brilliant memoir she recounts the highs and lows of life inside the maternity unit. From frantic fathers and breaking her hand during a traumatic home birth, to witnessing the delivery of quads and the ultimate devastation of assisting the delivery of a stillborn baby, Maria has had an extraordinary career.
Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by John Sackville
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.
Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life – eating, drinking, and reproducing – the purpose of sleep remained elusive.
Now, in this book, the first of its kind, explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
When a new born baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change their lives, in ways both expected and not. Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.
Being Mortal by Atrul Gawande
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.
Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.
Nurses Never Run: A Student Nurse in Cambridge 1967-1970 by Eileen Gershon
Sharing her letters written at the time, Nurse Walker invites us to experience her training as a student nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and the fun she had living in Cambridge. Meet her friends, face her fears and heartbreak, her joys and frustrations, and learn about the patients she will never forget.
This honest and candid autobiography brings the caring vocation of nursing in the 1960s vividly back to life.
In Shock by Randa Awdish
At seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish suffered a catastrophic medical event, haemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her unborn first child. She spent months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries.
Every step of the way, Awdish was faced with something even more unexpected and shocking than her battle to survive: her fellow doctors’ inability to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and human suffering, the result of a self-protective barrier hard-wired in medical training.
In Shock is Rana Awdish’s searing account of her extraordinary journey from doctor to patient, during which she sees for the first time the dysfunction of her profession’s disconnection from patients and the flaws in her own past practice as a doctor. Shatteringly personal yet wholly universal, it is both a brave roadmap for anyone navigating illness and a call to arms for doctors to see each patient not as a diagnosis, but as a human being
The Prison Doctor by Amanda Brown
Horrifying, heart-breaking and eye-opening, these are the stories, the patients and the cases that have characterised a career spent behind bars.
The no-holds-barred memoirs of a GP who went from working at a quiet suburban practice, to treating the country’s most dangerous criminals – first in young offenders’ institutions, then at the notorious Wormwood Scrubs and finally at Europe’s largest women-only prison in Europe, Bronzefield.
Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels
Benjamin Daniels is angry. He is frustrated, confused, baffled and, quite frequently, very funny. He is also a GP. These are his confessions.
A woman troubled by pornographic dreams about Tom Jones. An 80-year-old man who can’t remember why he’s come to see the doctor. A woman with a common cold demanding (but not receiving) antibiotics. A man with a sore knee. A young woman who has been trying to conceive for a while but now finds herself pregnant and isn’t sure she wants to go through with it. A 7-year-old boy with ‘tummy aches’ that don’t really exist.
These are his patients.
Confessions of a GP is a witty insight into the life of a family doctor. Funny and moving in equal measure it will change the way you look at your GP next time you pop in with the sniffles.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.
We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us sapiens?
In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here, and where we’re going.
Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind’s extraordinary history from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world.
Have you been reading during quarantine? We’d love to see your recommendations in the comments section below.
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