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Choose a Common Read Experience this Summer

Whitney Walker • 6/18/18

Choose a Common Read Experience this Summer

This summer, incoming and current medical students as well as IU School of Medicine faculty, staff and alumni are invited to be a part of Common Read. Common Read brings participants together to discuss medical themes in select books, plays and videos. The program ends with a discussion during first-year orientation from 4 – 5 pm on August 1 in Hine Hall, but the lessons and stories linger, reminding participants of the importance of humanity within medicine.

Check out one of this year’s selections online, from a retailer or library or by borrowing a free copy in the Medical Sciences Building room 164.

  1. Body of WorkA book about a first-year medical student’s experiences in anatomy lab.
  2. When Breath Becomes AirAn autobiographical book about a resident who discovers he has stage IV cancer.
  3. “Wit”: A one-act play that takes place during the final hours of a university professor dying of ovarian cancer
  4. TED Talk and case study with a global health/AMPATH focus

Not sure which Common Read experience to take part in?

The Orientation Committee, a team of second-year medical students, shared why they chose their Common Read experience.

Common Read Selection: Body of Work

Orientation committee member: Rebekah Roll 
Why I chose this book: For me, anatomy lab will always be one of the most potent memories of first year. Your cadaver is your first patient – the platform through which you will learn your most intimate anatomy. This book focuses not only on the anatomical lessons you will learn, but also on the bigger questions relating to medicine and life. These lessons resonated with me and will stay close to my heart as I continue my pursuit towards being a physician.

Common Read Selection: When Breath Becomes Air

Orientation committee member: Jarrett Campbell
Why I chose this book: When I first read the synopsis to When Breath Becomes Air, I felt a very real pang of unease.  This book tells the story of a neurosurgery resident and his recent diagnosis of Stage IV Lung cancer, a truly ironic fate for someone how essentially gives life, to have theirs stolen so early.  I have always believed we can learn powerful lessons from experiences of others, and I am so interested to read this book and discover the ways by which the author continued his life though the future plans he worked so hard towards were ruined.  Though likely to be sad, I know beauty will also be found within this novel and lessons about cherishing life and our past experiences are sure to be taught.  I look forward to getting started on this and will of course give you an update in the next couple of weeks!

Orientation committee member: Emily Cage
Why I chose this book: Several people have recommended this book to me over the past year, so I jumped at the chance to read it this summer. Although it concerns the tough topics of death and mortality (made even more difficult by the fact that the author himself experiences these first-hand after being diagnosed with lung cancer), it also reflects on life and celebrates the things that make life worth living. I have heard that this is an excellent and captivating book, and I am excited to finally start reading it!

Common Read Selection: “Wit”

Orientation committee member: Eric Galante
Why I chose this book: You may have been able to gather that it’s a book about a play. I thought this was a very fun and different idea which is why this book originally caught my eye. After reading more about it, I became very excited to start it. The play is about a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the story follows her as she navigates her way through living what she determines is a happy and fulfilling life while raising questions about life and death. As you all gear up for these next 7+ years of school and training, I think that reading books like this are important to reflect on what we all truly deem as meaningful and important in our lives. When we can focus on those ideals, they make our goals and aspirations much clearer while allowing us to find time to do other meaningful things outside of studying. These are thoughts I try to be conscious of every day in order to live the best life I believe I can. I hope you choose this book to discuss it with me! If not, I hope that whichever book you do choose this summer offers great lessons as you enter this new journey, and I can’t wait to help you start that journey in August!

Common Read Selection: Global Health TED Talk/Case Study

Orientation committee member: Gabe Gerena
Why I chose this book: I chose the AMPATH/TEDTALK as my summer reading option because it highlights one of the major international initiatives our school has taken. AMPATH, which stands for Academic Modeling Providing Access to Healthcare, started as a partnership to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya and has grown into something much bigger over the years. This TEDTALK highlights some of the steps required to foster growth and sustainability when working in an underserved community. I truly believe these steps can be used universally, both domestically and internationally, as I utilized similar steps when working for non-profits in both Lima, Peru and Tallahassee, Florida. Most importantly, AMPATH illustrates the humanism and interconnectedness of medicine. As future physicians, this TEDTALK reminded me that when able to, we should network and spread our knowledge with others in order to ensure that all citizens of this world are receiving the best medical care while also reducing health disparities and reaching health equity.

Author

Whitney Walker

A self-described (but confirmed by everyone who knows her) nerd, Whitney coordinates communications for faculty, staff and medical student education. When Whitney's not searching for great IU School of Medicine stories or wrangling the MD student newsletter, she's likely out searching for a cool new coffee shop or doting over her 25 (and counting) houseplants. Contact Whitney at wmwalker@iu.edu.