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5 Books to Read This Year

Book Recommendations for Medical Professionals
Ying Feng Johansson/

Life in the trenches of medicine can be taxing and having a ready escape for the mind is essential. A good book can wash away stress and recalibrate energy and attitude. Here are a few excellent reads to check out.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Dr. Kalanithi, at the age of 36, was wrapping up a grueling neurosurgery residency when his life quickly unraveled. Listening to his own intuition, he pressed for answers and learned that he was dying. Shifting from doctor to patient and the mental and emotional hurdles draw the reader into this desperate struggle.

As physicians, we never completely get comfortable breaking the bad news to patients but rather accept it as part of the work we do. Depending on the specialty, we can become somewhat numb when dealing with death. This book awakens a deep sense of compassion in the reader. I discovered this book at a time when I faced my own life-threatening health problem and found solace in the author’s poetic tale that is more about being alive than dying.

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal

Physicians and scientists are tasked with reshaping the way healthcare is delivered and ever moving the needle of discovery forward. A blend of intellect, curiosity, and creativity are requisites for pushing the frontier of medical progress.

By shifting our state of mind and entering a flow state, we can unlock true potential, sharpen focus, fuel creativity, and tap into creative exploration, allowing the development of novel therapies that will impact countless lives. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described the mental state of flow, and the authors expand on that concept, revealing the keys to unlock the full potential of the human mind.

Shrinkage: Manhood, Marriage, and the Tumor That Tried to Kill Me by Bryan Bishop

Bryan’s life was rocketing forward until an inoperable brain tumor showed up. Rather than resigning to his fate, he shares a humorous approach to dealing with his diagnosis and treatment. He shares adventures such as getting chemotherapy in a strip club, getting another woman in the shower with his wife (for physical therapy) and other tales that generate laughs and smiles, despite the gravity of the topic.

Abundance and Bold — both by Dr. Peter Diamandis

While trained as a physician, Dr. Diamandis is best known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight and the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE for 100 mile-per-gallon equivalent cars.
The author shares his vision about what is possible and within our grasp. With the proper shift in mindset and a reframing of problems, he serves up optimistic solutions for worldly problems and points out that we are in a lot better shape than many believe. By capturing insights and strategies from exponential thinkers and billionaire entrepreneurs, Dr. Diamandis delivers a how-to guide on creating global wealth and solving problems that will impact billions. The reader comes away with a sense of wonder, optimism and possibly, the urge to do something more.

Perhaps you have read a few of these titles. If so what was your biggest take-away?

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About Mitchel Schwindt, MD

Dr. Mitchel Schwindt is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who practices in a variety of clinical settings. He completed his residency at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of Michigan State University, Butterworth was renamed Spectrum Health, and is one of the busiest level 1 emergency and trauma centers in the United States. He served as chief resident his final year. While there he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, a prestigious medical honor society. He also devoted a significant amount of time working as a flight physician (helicopter) for an aeromedical company.

Dr. Schwindt has served on many committees and steering groups related to health care, quality and process improvement and was a former trauma program medical director. He serves as a volunteer physician for local sporting and martial arts events. He is a consultant and medical advisor to several dental groups and has developed protocols and policies related to medical issues in the dental practice.

Wellness and nutrition are a passionate interest for Dr. Schwindt. He writes extensively on the subject and has published several related books. He is a member of the A4M – The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is currently pursing a functional and sports medicine fellowship.

In his free time, he enjoys competing in triathlons, skiing, water sports, time with family, foreign travel and pursuing entrepreneurial activities.