Books and videos for Pre-Meds

Hello All!

I wanted to provide some resources that I believe are essential to anyone considering medicine. These resources should inspire and reaffirm your pursuit of the medical profession.

1. The Pact - written by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt

These three African-American boys who grew up in New Jersey dream of becoming doctors. Through there long journey together, they achieve this dream. Excellent read!

2. Complications: A surgeon’s notes on an imperfect science - written by Atul Gawande

Gawande speaks about his travels through surgical residency and how these experiences have interwoven in his personal life.

3. Doctor’s Diaries - produced by PBS Home Video and NOVA

This video chronicles the lives of 7 doctors from Harvard Medical School as they go through school, residency training, and personal struggles. I frequently watch this video (at least once a month) to remind me how REAL medical school can be!

I was able to find all of these on Amazon for cheap!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

PBS has some videos from the Doctor Diaries on their website as well. I’m not sure if it is the same as the series that can be purchased.

It does not glamorize a life in medicine.

“Doctor’s Diaries” is available on streaming Netflix for those of you who have it. I enjoyed it.

I also read “Complications.” Great book.

Here are a few more I can recommend.

“Something for the Pain.” Paul Austin M.D.

Firefighter becomes E.R. physician, non traditional med student. I want to say he started med school around 27…I think. Great read.

“Intern” by Sandeep Jauhar. Another good book about the trials and tribulations of what may be the toughest year of your life. Interestingly enough, he was also somewhat non traditional. I seem to recall he was either working on, or had just finished a Ph.D. in physics prior to becoming a physician.

“The House of God”, if only for the novelty of reading about doctors walking around a hospital smoking (and the fact that it is generally considered the first book that told the ‘true story’ of what internship is like).

I enjoyed “Hot Lights, Cold Steel”, though it was a bit fluffy.

“On Call” was personally completely displeasing-the only upside to my reading it is that I can hopefully dissuade others from doing the same.

“The Scalpel’s Edge: The Culture of Surgeons” is a very different kind of book than the rest I’ve listed. It’s basically a sociologist’s study of the surgical culture and is more like a long research paper than a novel. Highly recommended if you plan on cutting people open for a living, only slightly less recommended for other specialties.

“Hopkins” and “Boston Med” are both good series. They are done in a documentary style by CBS News and follow a few doctors at Johns Hopkins and the three major Boston hospitals, respectively. Incidentally, “Hopkins” is the show that solidified my desire to do CVT-the scene in there where they show the transplanted lung being re-inflated ranks behind only my children being born and their first steps for amazing moments in my life.

“Surgical School” if you can find it, is interesting. It’s a BBC show from 2010 in the vein of “Hopkins” or “Boston Med”. I found it fascinating to get a glimpse of what life for a resident in England is like and compare it to accounts I’ve seen and heard about the US system. Though if you’re like me, it will drive you insane when they scrub in sans surgical brushes (they just use big handfuls of soap!!!). It also only runs 6 episodes, like most British series.

With Atul Gawande being mentioned, I’d be remiss in not pointing out “Better” if you find you like his writing voice. This is the first medical novel in this vein that I read and one that helped re-assure me that I was making the right choice.

Night God:

Boston Med was a GREAT show! I was on the edge of my seat each night…

I am having a hard time finding Hopkins; I guess I have to keep searching.

I have the torrent if you give up finding it through more traditional avenues. Let me know if you’re interested in it.

I also liked:

Strength in what remains- a true story about a medical student who fled the genocide in reawanda and came to US with nothing, finished undergrad and med school here.

Mountains beyond mountains- also by tracy kidder about Paul farmer a really inspirational man, physician and anthropologist.

For fiction I enjoyed cutting for stone.

  • NightGod Said:
"On Call" was personally completely displeasing-the only upside to my reading it is that I can hopefully dissuade others from doing the same...

NightGod - what did you find displeasing about that book? Just curious.

The central character was not strong at all, in my view. Not in the traditional literary sense, nor in the emotional sense. I found myself actually rooting for her to fail throughout most of the book. I’ve read much better free blogs than what that waste of pulp contained.

I would add to that list “This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes.” This is a biography about Dr. Rick Hodes and his work as a doctor in Ethiopia. It was a great book and definitely inspiring to me.

If I remember correctly Dr. David Friedman from Doctor Diaries was also featured on Hopkins; however, I can’t seem to find Hopkins anywhere either ?ie=UTF…

Amazon instant video has the entire series (7 episodes) for $6.93. If you’re looking for free, I found it as a torrent a year ago, should still be available.

Awesome. Thank you! I also saw Boston Med on there too; never saw it and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Has anyone read this one? “Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab” by Christine Montross… it was just highly recommended to me by a 2nd year med student. Supposedly, it chronicles the author’s gross anatomy experience and delves into the balance between clinical detachment that’s necessary to get through some days as a doctor and the emotional engagement needed to truly care for people. She said it was really well done… I’m curious if anyone’s read it?

Oh, and Night God–I also just had 3 doctors tell me NOT to read “The House of God” until AFTER I survived my Intern year.

heheh…I think they were afraid that if I read that one, I’d have some sense knocked into me and stop before I started. =) Too late!!!

I know a lot of people might find it scary, but I honestly found it encouraging. I have a very weird view of the world at times, however


What is a torrent and how would I find it?

Torrents are the file format used for peer-to-peer file sharing (a bit like the old program Napster). It’s pretty easy to setup and use these day, shouldn’t need hours of tweaking config files or the like, as it used to be. Look up information about a program called uTorrent, it’s one of the most user friendly, as well as very configurable if you want to do that at some later point (though, honestly, the base config is more than sufficient). As for the files for these specific shows, I could send them to you, I know they were a bit of a pain to find last year and seem even harder to hunt down now.


That would be great if you could send them to me. Is it possible to send it through the Private Message function?

No, I’d need an e-mail address. They’re tiny files, only a couple of KB each. Send me an e-mail a jsull473 at sbcglobal dot net and I’ll get them to ya.