As a premedical advisor and medical school admissions consultant, I encourage prospective medical students to read books that will expand their view of the medical profession. Reading literature allows us to better understand the human condition which, in turn, makes doctors better practitioners. In addition, during medical school interviews applicants are sometimes asked about books they have read about the medical profession; interviewers want to know whether the applicant has been curious enough to read about his or her chosen profession.
The books I have selected cover different aspects of the medical profession, from practicing medicine to understanding global health challenges to navigating the complexities of cultural competency. I have compiled a list of helpful books for premed and med students. Out of that list of 38 books, I have chosen 10 as essential reading material:
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
- How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
- Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande
- My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese
- Caring for Patients from Different Cultures by Geri-Ann Galanti
- Strong at the Broken Places by Richard Cohen
- On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
- The Citadel by A.J. Cronin
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
Take a look at the full list and let me know if there are others you would suggest including.
Goodreads also has a list of Best Books for Medical Students. In addition, the Daily Beast has an excellent article about books written by doctors. A medical student at Stanford has also recommended specific books for medical students. STAT has come out with a list of 39 health and science books. The Association of American Medical Colleges also came out with a book of summer reads for premed students and physicians. For an overview of the US health care system I suggest The Health Care Handbook.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant
Originally posted in 2018, updated in 2019 and 2021