Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

What novel have you recommended to a patient, or had a patient recommend to you?


Physicians share a few great books that you might want to add to your book list!

Lifelong Learning in Clinical Excellence | June 15, 2018 | <1 min read


Gordon Caldwell, MD

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese


I’m a consultant physician in Oban on the west coast of Scotland. Cutting for Stone is a great novel exploring the themes of life, suffering, death, compassion, family, war, race, addiction, and surgery. It gives the reader deep insights into the minds, strengths, and weaknesses of doctors and nurses. For clinicians, it reminds us that first we are human, and second we are clinicians. It’s so beautifully written, I’ve read it three times. I felt deeply honoured to give a lecture in a session chaired by Abraham Verghese, who by writing this book has reminded us that Medicine is a human endeavor.

Michael Crocetti, MD, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians

A parent recommended Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, during the stage craze and I read and enjoyed it!

What do you think?

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Panagis Galiatsatos, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

One of my patients gave me Not Without Laughter, by Langston Hughes. He heard of my community engagement initiatives, and felt this book captured a part of America that many don’t feel a connection with. It was beautiful and insightful, and remains the only book I have on my office desk that isn’t an academic textbook. This passage captures exactly what my patient intended for me to understand—the reality of life’s disparities:


“The glasses good people wore wouldn’t have fitted their eyes, for they hung no curtain of words between themselves and reality. To them [the children living on the other side of the railroad], things were—what they were.​”

Michael Fingerhood, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

On a daily basis, patients come back to see me holding a book or a Kindle, and I always ask them what they’re reading. I think it helps me know my patients as well.  I recently read “Orphan Train,” by Christina Baker Kline, on the recommendation of a patient, and recommended Kurt Vonnegut novels to a patient of mine who is an attorney and was reading a biography of Eugene Debs.

Colleen Christmas, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

I have a wonderful patient who is a voracious reader and always has a book in hand when I walk into the office to see him. I always ask what he is reading, and largely they are books on subjects he is passionate about but I have little personal interest in, but invariably I learn a bit more about him each time we talk about his current reading quests.

Recently he was reading a book called, “The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend.” He was particularly animated in describing this book to me to the point where I thought to myself that I might need to read that book someday.

To my surprise, it arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks later, with a note from my kind patient. Though it would never have been a book I’d have selected for myself, I did indeed enjoy it immensely and learned a ton about the Sioux Indians and a part of our American history I had no idea about before. I can’t wait to see my patient again and tell him how much I loved his book!