25 Books Healthcare Professional Should Add to Their Reading Lists

Young female student study with her laptop under light bulbsEducation is a journey without a destination. Regardless of where you are in your healthcare career, personal and professional growth is vital to your continued success. Even a hospital CEO may gain a new perspective or delve deeper into an industry subset.

Walk in someone else's shoes or brush up on the latest innovations when you pick up any of these 25 books.

1. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Many professionals believe they must power through adversity before they can succeed. When a skill or situation seems difficult, professional norms dictate that you should simply work harder. This book suggests the opposite. Instead of advising readers on how to correct their deficiencies, the author focuses on how readers can develop their natural strengths. StrengthsFinder 2.0 directs readers to an online quiz aimed at helping them understand personal strengths so that they can better manage and work with others. The book and online materials can help healthcare professionals better understand and utilize their strengths.

2. Medicaid Politics and Policy by Judith D. Moore and David G. Smith

This book understands Medicaid as a "weak entitlement" that is less established than Medicare or Social Security, but more secure than welfare and food stamps. The authors emphasize both politics and policy in an accessible way, while aiming to help readers distinguish policy grounded in analysis from partisan ideology. This updated version accounts for changes in the Affordable Care Act and includes a current glossary. If you’re at all involved in Medicaid policy, you’ll benefit from reading this book.

3. The Creative Destruction of Medicine by Eric Topol, M.D.

Although the phrase "creative destruction" carries a negative connotation, this book outlines the positive impact of individualized medicine on the healthcare industry. The author suggests using genome and digital technologies to understand individuals at the biologic level to determine appropriate medical intervention. Although this book was published in 2012, its ideas continue to be relevant today. The book contains a new postscript to address the current healthcare revolution and how mobile technology has transformed our lives.

4. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

The combination of life and healthcare has produced many productive multitaskers, but this book suggests that we may have lost the ability to organize and deliver a consistent experience. The author argues that we can produce and specialize more, and make better use of technology, by using simple checklists in surgery and in daily life.

5. Leadership is an Art by Max Depree

This revised edition addresses leadership as a type of stewardship by stressing the importance of cultivating relationships, initiating ideas and creating an overall value system within an organization. According to the author, an artful leader must:

  • Enable others to achieve personal and institutional potential
  • Develop, express and defend values
  • Nurture future leaders to strengthen and solidify corporate culture

6. Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership by Harry M. Kraemer

The author believes that one can become a better leader after achieving one’s best self. This straightforward and practical guide applies value-based principles to help the reader create a personalized framework for leadership success. Using case studies and personal experience, Kraemer prescribes four principles to improve five areas of the reader's career and life.

7. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande

Through firsthand accounts of his own surgical experience, the author offers an unabridged take on what happens during surgical complications. This book can enlighten anyone in medicine and healthcare, whether behind the scalpel or the computer. Gawande's stories are personal and heartfelt reminders that doctors are people too.

8. The Comfort Garden: Tales from the Trauma Unit by Laurie Barkin

Told from the perspective of a trauma nurse, this book is about the plight of people who have survived massive trauma before being admitted to the hospital. These real-life stories highlight the impact of such trauma on the patients and everyone in their lives, including their caregivers.

9. How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

Groopman set out to shatter myths by examining the relationship between doctors and their patients. By exploring thought processes behind doctors' decisions, the author pinpoints why doctors succeed and why they err. This is a must-read for anyone wants to understand how doctors can deploy skills to profoundly impact our health.

10. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

This parable that takes place in a maze. Two mice and two people navigate the maze, and each group has an entirely different relationship with the cheese they seek. For the humans Hem and Haw, cheese is more than sustenance; it is their life and livelihood. Readers are likely to relate the cheese as something in their own lives, be it a job, money or career path. Who Moved My Cheese? is recommended for those who may fear or resist change.

11. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

After Pausch learned he had terminal pancreatic cancer, he delivered an hour-long video presentation that summarized his philosophy on the importance of hard work and perseverance. This book expands upon the themes presented in his lecture and may be valuable to any professional attempting to balance work and life.

12. Too Busy for Your Own Good: Get More Done in Less Time with Even More Energy by Connie Merritt

Although this book is targeted towards women, both men and women can benefit from its tips on how to prioritize, when to say no and how to get more done in less time. In our fast-paced world, these are skills all professionals need.

13. How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier by Jan Garavaglia

Using anecdotes from her cases, medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia gives readers advice on how to live healthier, longer lives. The author also shares insight on what she believes to be the most easily preventable deaths. The book covers accident prevention, medical hygiene and everyday dangers.

14. Helping Children Overcome Fear in a Medical Setting by Rob Luka

This easy-to-read guide empowers both children and adults to transform fear into cooperation. The book is a helpful tool for anyone in the medical industry, regardless of rank. Administrators and executives may not work directly with children, but they should understand the unique challenges of those who do.

15. A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen

Bowen's message is simple: stop complaining. He proposes that life gets better when you stop focusing on the negative. The book issues a challenge: stop complaining for 21 days. When the complaints stop, the mind focuses less on negativity, allowing room for more positive changes.

16. Conspiracies of Kindness: The Craft of Compassion at the Bedside of the Ill by Michael Ortiz

Ortiz proposes that compassion is a craft that can be learned, practiced and refined. Building on his nursing experience, the author provides educational tales about interactions with patients that demonstrate compassion and kindness. Healthcare professionals at any level can benefit from reading this inspirational and educational book.

17. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer and treated at Johns Hopkins University. During her treatment, Dr. George Gey took a sample of Henrietta's cells without her knowledge; these cells have been cultured and used in experiments for the last 60 years. Lacks' family did not know about the cells or their profits until 20 years after her death. This well-written non-fiction book explores the contribution of these cells to science and how the ordeal has impacted her family.

18. The Soul of a Doctor by Susan Pories, M.D., Sachin H. Jain and Gordon Harper, M.D.

This book offers a glimpse into the emotional journey third-year medical students face when they begin adopting clinical responsibilities. For most, these students are facing real crises with real people for the first time, and they must put aside their emotions to make potentially life-saving decisions. Every doctor takes this personally, and this book provides a raw and emotional perspective of doctors that the general population often doesn’t see.

19. In Stitches by Anthony Youn, M.D.

Youn writes about growing up as one of two Asian-American kids in a small Midwestern town, and how he chose the journey to become a doctor. Readers will relate to this humorous coming-of-age story.

20. The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands by Eric Topol

Eric Topol shows an alternative view of medicine that puts more power and control into the hands of patients. Topol shares innovative ideas such as using a smartphone to obtain rapid blood test results or monitor vital signs. These ideas could empower a patient to obtain a diagnosis without seeing a doctor, and the process could result in substantial financial savings. This may well be the future of healthcare.

21. In Search of Good Medicine: Hospital Marketing Strategies to Engage Healthcare Consumers by Mark D. Shipley

As American healthcare reforms, patients have a stronger role in the healthcare decision-making process. In this book, Shipley proposes new ways to attract and engage these empowered patients. In Search of Good Medicine provides an executive overview of the current state of healthcare and extends a protocol to help organizations become competitive in this marketplace. This book is especially beneficial for those in the healthcare marketing field.

22. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D.

Siddhartha Mukherjee won the Pulitzer Prize for this account of the history and biology of cancer. Cancer is a disease that humans have lived with and perished from for over five thousand years. This biography of cancer includes discoveries, victories, seatbacks and deaths. The Emperor of All Maladies is an enlightening book that provides clarity and demystifies cancer.

23. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, K.A. Yoshida (translator), David Mitchell (translator)

The Reason I Jump is as a collection of short stories that illustrate life with autism. It offers a unique perspective: the author is a 13-year-old boy with autism. Reading these stories offers an instrumental understanding in autism for healthcare professionals.

24. The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth by Matthew Algeo

This is the story of President Stephen Grover Cleveland and the massive cancerous lesion he had removed from his hard palate during his presidency. The President is a Sick Man tells of the surgery and the physicians involved. This book provides the history, conspiracy and surgical technique surrounding the incident.

25. The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery by Wendy Moore

John Hunter was one of the most distinguished surgeons of his day. Many argue that his eccentricity pushed him to uncover secrets of the human body that define modern surgery. Hunter’s efforts to advance his medical knowledge included stealing bodies and infecting himself with venereal diseases.

This recommended reading list is meant to supplement your continued education and provide varied perspectives. The chosen books offer a well-rounded view of the healthcare industry, which would be especially helpful for anyone interested in healthcare administration.

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