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From The CriticsReviewer: Suzanne M Shultz, MA (York Hospital)
Description: This compilation of personal histories of physicians who received the American Medical Association's Pride in the Profession Award attempts to discover what beliefs and qualities may distinguish these honorees from their colleagues.
Purpose: The author's purpose is to discover, if possible, the "true spirit of being a medical professional - caring for people." To accomplish this, she conducts a series of structured interviews with the award winners to determine the philosophy, creed, and convictions that make these physicians representatives of their profession. At a time when medicine is more focused on technology than compassionate care, the author strives to define the medical soul by examining the lives of selected physicians.
Audience: The author intends this book to inspire practicing physicians, noting "I hope the good doctors' words of wisdom and discernment will make a real difference to working physicians and to the next generation to come." Although aimed primarily at a physician audience, it is of much broader significance and allure. Not only medical personnel, but also the lay public will find this book revealing, inspiring, and even heart-warming. The author's psychology education makes her especially able to assemble, evaluate, and draw insight from her investigation.
Features: Fourteen of the 16 chapters are life stories taken from the physician interviews, delivered in a structured but not quite autobiographical style. The first chapter is an introduction and overview that explains the methodology and organization of the interviews that underlie each biography, i.e. those questions asked with an ear toward values that set each of these individuals apart. The last chapter is a summary of the influences, experiences, models, mentors, and qualities that the author believes make these physicians the admired leaders of their profession. The well thought-out design of the book is one that can apply to any study that uses an oral history or stories-based approach to produce in-depth biographies. It is perhaps an unrealized strength that adds great value to the book.
Assessment: The author asserts in the preface that this book is a pioneer; there are no others like it. She concludes, "It is my hope that by spending time appreciating the distinguishing traits that the honorees embody, both new and experienced healthcare providers will feel motivated to reflect on their own evolving personal and professional stories." It is well worth reading.