Monday, April 20, 2015

Brief Review of books by Dr. Atul Gawande

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"

I read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and recommend the book to anyone who works in the medical profession as well as those who have older family members or are getting older themselves. That pretty much includes everyone. Dr. Gawande is an excellent writer and story teller. His books, while containing some technical information and scary stories if you are prone to hypochondria, connect on a human level and explore ideal doctor/patient relationships.

I downloaded all his books and just finished another one this weekend. In Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, he deals with three topics in relation to medical practice. 

Diligence- giving sufficient attention to detail 
Doing what is right (ethics) 
Ingenuity- thinking anew and reflecting on failure in an effort to find new solutions

In the afterword at end of the book he makes some recommendations which apply to people who want to improve performance in any area. He goes into more detail in each category but here is the summary in a nutshell. He calls his afterword: Suggestions for becoming a positive deviant.

Ask unscripted questions. When talking to strangers, learn something about them. Make a human connection. Listening is as important as talking (more so in my opinion).

Don’t complain. It is boring and doesn’t solve anything. Be prepared to discuss something interesting with your peers, friends and family.

Count something. If you count something you find interesting you will learn something interesting. Make observations and reflect on them.

Write something. Write about some small observation in your world. Writing lets you step back and think through a problem. Write a few paragraphs in a blog, write a journal or newsletter article, write a poem for a reading group. Offer your reflections to an audience.

Change. Don’t be a persistent skeptic who never stops resisting. Be an early adopter. Find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. Keep the conversation going.

Progress comes from new ideas birthed from observation, reflection and discussion. We are inundated with a constant flow of information, much of it useless and distorted, in our fast-paced world. It is easy to be sucked into a vortex of negativity, hopelessness and resistance to change. 

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