I have a secret to share with you. Shhhhhh. The most important books for your successful career in healthcare are NOT about healthcare. They’re not about medicine. They’re not about diagnostic techniques, disease states or devices. They’re not about health plans or PBM’s. They’re not about science, biology, chemistry, physiology, immunology or even pharmacology.
You see, by this point in your career (or if you are a student of medicine, nursing, pharmacy or any other healthcare field) you have had enough of these classes and topics already. Your library is probably loaded with such books. Your “in box” is stuffed full of journals that will tell you all about the cutting edge discoveries in these areas. Maybe you will read them, maybe you won’t. But more likely than not, none of them are going to be real “game changers” for your healthcare career.
The following books have literally been game changers in my life. They have taught me skills that have been used, in one way or another, virtually every week since I’ve read them. I have read, and re-read them all. They are go-to resources when things seem to be getting a little off-course. But the sad thing is that I wasn’t introduced to some of them until maybe 5-10 years ago. I wish they had been required reading much earlier in my life.
NOTE: For your convenience, I have put a link from each book to a GREAT DEAL on Amazon if you need to add one or more of them to your library.
BOOK #1: HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by DALE CARNEGIE
This book, in spite of its title, is NOT about how to take advantage of people. Don’t be put off. Dale Carnegie wrote this classic, first published in 1936, and it has sold over 13 million copies. It is simply a “how to” manual – written in the most winsome and engaging format – on communicating with people and being friendly. It’s brilliant. From cover to cover it is packed with story after story of how the simple principles he recommends have turned people’s lives around. As healthcare professionals we are not dealing primarily with diseases – we are dealing with people. And far too often we graduate with all the “head knowledge” about illness, but very little practical knowledge about interacting with people. Does your bedside manner need help? Your patient interactions need improvement? This is the book for you. If you haven’t read it…get it…read it…and reap the benefits.
BOOK #2: HOW TO READ A BOOK by MORTIMER ADLER
You have books. You use books. You may even enjoy books. But do you READ them? I mean REALLY read them? Reading a book is MUCH more than simply processing the words on the page. Have you ever read an article, only to arrive at the end wondering “what did I just read?” Sure you have. We all have. But a big part of the reason we fail to retain and really interact with and understand the point the author is making in a book is that we simply have never really learned to read right. This book will help you get more out of ANY book you read from fantasy to physiology, from philosophy to pharmacology. There are simple techniques, disciplines and habits that need to be developed if you want to get more from your reading. And Mortimer Adler, in this classic written in 1940, shows you how.
BOOK #3: THE MEMORY BOOK by HARRY LORAYNE
I was first introduced to this book the summer before I started my first semester of pharmacy school. It was, without doubt, the most important book I read to prepare me for my training. To this day, when would-be pharmacy students ask me what they should read to prepare them for their studies in pharmacy – I recommend this book without hesitation. Let’s face it – much of what we need to be effective in healthcare involves our memories. Facts need to stick. But memorization is a lost art. They don’t teach it in grade school or high school or college. In my opinion, it should be taught EVERY year throughout a child’s education. We tell children TO memorize things. We don’t teach them HOW. It’s not about mere repetition. If you haven’t read this book, or something similar, you will simply be amazed what it will do for you. It is worth every penny!
BOOK #4: THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by STEPHEN COVEY
You have goals. Personal goals. Professional goals. Relationship goals. Financial goals. What are you doing about them? How is your big plan for what you want to achieve with your life coming together? As a healthcare practitioner it is so easy to get overwhelmed with the “urgent” things that seeming come at you every moment of life, that you constantly feel on the edge of professional burnout. You aren’t alone. But why is it that some people are able to manage so many responsibilities with seeming ease and grace? It isn’t magic. It isn’t just personality. Go on believing that if you never want things to change. But if you DO want to gain some control over your life and schedule and goals…by all means…read this book. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, published first in 1989, has absolutely transformed many people’s way of managing their schedules and priorities. I keep this book very close to my desk at all times.
BOOK #5: SPEED READING by TONY BUZAN
Tony Buzan, born in 1942, was an English author and educational consultant. He has written several books on the mind, all of which are worth your time. But this one was without doubt the most helpful to me. Your ideas about speed reading are probably wrong. Mine were. It is not about skimming. It is not about just getting a few points and missing 99% of the book. It is not about losing the enjoyment of reading either. Speed reading is an exercise program that will massively increase BOTH your reading speed and comprehension. Got a stack of journals to go through? Of course you do. Imagine if you could get through them 10 times faster. If you have never really explored the discipline of speed reading, then you are about to be blown away by what Tony will teach you in this book. In fact, for any healthcare professional who wants to stay on the top of her/his game – this book should be an absolutely essential part of your library.
Those are my top 5. I have more. Maybe I’ll share them in time. But I think I’ve given you enough homework for now!
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