Dave Golombek's Reviews > Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

Better by Atul Gawande
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Jul 16, 09

Read in July, 2009

After reading Atul Gawande's excellent piece on healthcare in the New Yorker a few months ago, I knew I had to go pick up his most recent book, Better. I was not disappointed. The book talks extensively about what it means to try and be a better doctor. There are many aspects to being a doctor and the book discusses what it means to excel or improve in many of them. The book is broken into three large sections; Diligence, Doing Right, and Ingenuity. Each section is organized around a story from which he draws examples (or counter-examples) to further his point. The stories are entertaining and enlightening, but the broader points are even more important.

Health care is the subject of much discussion right now, and this book is interesting as it pertains to how doctors do their work. Although I'm not a doctor, learning more about their jobs beyond the caricatures of ER (and to an apparently much lesser extent, Scrubs) was interesting. But even beyond the curiosity, this book has important lessons for people in all careers. Although the life-and-death aspects of medicine don't exist in most other fields, the ethical implications, opportunities to make a difference, and personal goals that this book covers are crucial in all careers.

Better is a short book at ~250 pages, and I was wishing it was twice as long by the time I was done. I'd highly recommend this book to everyone, no matter their career.
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