The Soul of Medicine: Tales from the Bedside

Overview

“Like all doctors, I collect stories…”

From one of America’s most renowned and beloved doctors, and best-selling winner of the National Book Award, comes a remarkable book that brings together the stories of doctors collected over 30 years. Each of these tales, filled with grace and wisdom, explores the mysteries and conundrums of modern medicine. Enhanced by Sherwin Nuland’s keen insight into the special relationship between doctor and patient, these engrossing stories illustrate the judgment, wisdom, and ...

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Overview

“Like all doctors, I collect stories…”

From one of America’s most renowned and beloved doctors, and best-selling winner of the National Book Award, comes a remarkable book that brings together the stories of doctors collected over 30 years. Each of these tales, filled with grace and wisdom, explores the mysteries and conundrums of modern medicine. Enhanced by Sherwin Nuland’s keen insight into the special relationship between doctor and patient, these engrossing stories illustrate the judgment, wisdom, and character of veteran doctors who have mastered the art of care-giving. Taken together, the lessons learned from The Soul of Medicine are as moving and profound as they are timeless.

“A beautiful book.” —Oliver Sacks

“Nuland is a gifted storyteller, bringing his doctors…brilliantly to life.” —John Irving

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

National Book Award-winner Nuland (How We Die ) turns over his latest collection to the stories of more than a dozen specialists describing their most memorable patients. What is extraordinary about Nuland's compilation is not the medical heroics but the instances of fallibility and vulnerability that prove the doctor is not just human but caring. A bronchoscopist tells of a famed thoracic surgeon who botches a procedure to recover a small cap a child has swallowed "Well, chappies," he chirped, "here's my chance to demonstrate the procedure again. Rather like a double feature at the cinema, yes?" When that, too, fails, the frustrated surgeon must do major surgery to rectify what should have been a 10-minute fix. Even the scoundrel who gets a nurse fired rather than be caught in his own impropriety shows a recognizable humanity in his hilarious retelling of barging into a procedure unwashed and unwanted, and being chased from the premises by a mad-as-hell surgeon. Nuland adds his own commentary after many of the stories, but it's just window dressing. Here's medicine as it's actually practiced-by humans awed by the privilege of both their practice and patients. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Drawing on his long career in medicine and especially on the reminiscences colleagues have shared with him over the years, Nuland (How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter) offers a series of brief essays recounting some of those stories. He has chosen to call these essays tales and, to disguise the identities of the people telling them, places them all in the fictional Canterbury hospital and university. He writes the essays in the first-person voice of the doctor who is telling the tale and offers a chapter of commentary following some of the tales. The stories are from practitioners in a variety of specialties and deal with patients, colleagues, and mentors. Ranging from fascinating and illuminating to fairly mundane, they offer insights into how physicians think, how medicine has changed, and medical and ethical dilemmas. The result is not as engaging as most of Nuland's earlier work, but his popularity should create a demand. Recommended for all public libraries.
—Dick Maxwell

The Barnes & Noble Review
If you find yourself having more dealings with your insurance company than your doctor, you may grow wistful reading Sherwin Nuland's latest. In The Soul of Medicine, the How We Die author, a practicing surgeon for more than 30 years, collects stories from colleagues describing their most memorable patients. He alters identifying details and presents them in the style of The Canterbury Tales ("The Gastroenterologist's Tale," "The Nephrologist's Tale"), following many with his own commentary. Most of the episodes occurred decades ago, giving the book a distinctly nostalgic tone. Nuland recognizes this, writing of today's practitioners, "Though some appear to ignore or be unaware of it, all physicians have a pastoral role in the care of each patient entrusted to them. They should be guides, wise counselors, and medical advocates." Still, the book makes for fascinating reading: from the dramatic (the surgical resident who discovers a patient's chest is filled with fecal matter, the result of a perforated colon) to the mundane (the dermatologist who painstakingly determines that a patient's shampoo is the cause of an unsightly rash), each chapter illuminates the intricacies of diagnosis and treatment. And Nuland's writing, as ever, is thoughtful and elegant, as in his description of the work of geriatricians, who "treat their patient like a fine old engraving, a line of which may have significance that would be overlooked were it not observed so carefully." Newbies in the field would do well to read this book, full of the moments of grace that such scrupulous observation can yield. --Barbara Spindel
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607140559
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Sherwin B. Nuland is Clinical Professor of Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine and a Fellow at Yale's Institute for Social and Policy Studies. He is the author of over ten books, including the National Book Award-winning, HOW WE DIE: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, an inquiry into the causes and modes of death that spent 34 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. In addition he is a contributor to leading publications including the New Yorker, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great tales from the doctors

    One of the few very interesting books written by doctors. This one has several different points of view from different types of doctors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    Not bad

    I like How We Die by the same author. This book was a nice collection of readable stories. No need to read it in one sitting as it lends itself to being read a chapter at a time over the course of weeks. For medical professionals, this may shed some light on the ups and downs in the field and the various ways in which these are handled. I expected a bit more "soul" and instead found the ethical dilemas often faced by the storytellers lacking. I lent it to a friend who seems to be enjoying it. It's not bad, just didn't meet my expectations.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    eye opening

    great synopsis of diverse medical cases, gives a unique look inside the truth about the medical field, perfect for both medical professionals and patients alike

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

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    Posted March 28, 2010

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