April 20, 2020

Book Club, or Docs Read

One of the challenges of practicing medicine today is the relative isolation of doctors from other doctors, especially referral sources and recipients of those referrals.

In times past, a new doctor in town would join the local medical society to meet the other community docs, and express their desire to join into the medical community (primary care and specialists alike). The specialists would present their availability for consultations and referrals, while the primary care docs would pull shifts in the emergency room (now emergency department) to make their presence known and gather unassigned (those without a doctor of their own) to recruit to their new office.

And many of the doctors in the community would round on their inpatients and see each other in the physician lounge. Or take part in grand rounds (lectures, talks, medical education) to meet and greet.

And the third avenue for collegiality was the local medical society dinner meetings with one’s spouse. I assume many practices did business on the strength of the relationship of the spouses (most likely women suiting the era, who may or may not have had professional careers of their own).

But of course, times have changed. Many aspects of medicine have changed. Forever altered by hospitalists (relegating most docs to their office only and never coming to the hospital), emergency physicians (a specialty of their own), change of demographics with many more female physicians and of course doubly employed spousal partners (and the rise of the male medical spouse).

This leaves the local medical society to find relevance. Many have not and have folded. Some have embraced the need for docs to meet together and sponsor quality quarterly educational meetings.

Our local Wake County Medical Society has decided that one of its major missions is to create venues for conversation and collegiality and communication between docs, and their families. Hence the many social programs of exploring the many cultural opportunities Raleigh and Wake County afford.

And then there is the BOOK CLUB!!! Ta da!!! Trumpet call please!!!

We have a solid group of docs, around 10 or so, that faithfully read the offering and bring insight, opinion, personal experience, enlightenment to a quarterly meeting, with a humble meal, comfort food.

Fiction and nonfiction.

Medical and anything but medical.

Purview the list:

Dopesick, Beth Macy
Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Kids These Days, Malcolm Harris
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Things That Matter, Charles Krauthammer
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri
The Great Influenza, John Barry

A quarterly meeting with a simple dinner, breaking bread and discussing themes and motif. And trust me all have read the book, it is after all a type A kind of club.

I have been inspired after reading Tyson’s book to study astronomy further with an online course from UNC, astronomy 101 with lab. Got an A in both.

The flu pandemic of 1918 puts our current Coronavirus in perspective, and begs us to ponder what is next, even as we struggle with this virus.

Dopesick, about the opioid crisis, which has taken a back seat to the virus.

Henrietta Lacks, whose breast cancer cells have advanced all forms of medical research.

Underground Railroad, facing our ugly past, personalized it seems, like no other portrayal of the beast of slavery.

Reading together and coming together, supping, and dissecting a book TOGETHER.

Such power, such meaning, such connection.

I look forward to every book and can’t imagine missing these times.

One day I will leave the office practice and the OR, and I will retire and not actively practice medicine, but I so look forward to continuing the exploration of literature and writing with my physician colleagues.

Anyone up for poetry?