What to Read, Watch, and Listen to This Summer: Our Top Picks for Future Physicians

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Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your favorite books, podcasts, and TV series. We’ve compiled a list of our medically related picks below. Have a favorite that’s not on the list? Let us know via Twitter @AAMCPreMed.


  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.
  • When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank Vertosick Jr., MD
    With poignant insight and humor, Frank Vertosick Jr., MD, describes some of the greatest challenges of his career, including a six-week-old infant with a tumor in her brain, a young man struck down in his prime by paraplegia, and a minister with a .22-caliber bullet lodged in his skull. Told through intimate portraits of Vertosick’s patients and unsparing yet fascinatingly detailed descriptions of surgical procedures, When the Air Hits Your Brain ― the culmination of decades spent struggling to learn an unforgiving craft ― illuminates both the mysteries of the mind and the realities of the operating room.
  • What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD 
    How do the stresses of medical life — from paperwork to grueling hours to lawsuits to facing death — affect the medical care that doctors can offer their patients? Digging deep into the lives of doctors, Ofri examines the daunting range of emotions — shame, anger, empathy, frustration, hope, pride, occasionally despair, and sometimes even love — that permeate the contemporary doctor-patient connection.


  • All Access: Med School Admissions” 
    “All Access: Med School Admissions” by Christian Essman, senior director of admissions and financial aid at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, brings listeners into informative and entertaining conversations between admissions colleagues from medical schools across the United States. Check out recent episodes 34 and 35 for information on how the AAMC has been working to adapt to the changes and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • “Sawbones
    Interested in history and medicine? Then “Sawbones” is the show for you. Sawbones — hosted by Sydnee McElroy, MD, and her husband Justin — reviews a topic from the history of medicine each week and how it relates to us today. Recent topics include a history of diseases like cholera or yellow fever, as well as alternative medicine like color therapy and crystals. “Sawbones” even introduces its listeners to compelling historical figures like Typhoid Mary and Phineas Gage. 
  • Beyond the White Coat” 
    At the heart of academic medicine are the individuals — medical students, residents, faculty, practicing physicians, and leaders — who provide unparalleled care to patients and communities across the country and are at the cutting edge of medical research advances. “Beyond the White Coat” shares these unique individuals’ stories while diving into issues affecting the academic medicine community at-large. 

TV Series: 

  • New Amsterdam” 
    “New Amsterdam” follows Dr. Max Goodwin, the new medical director at America’s oldest public hospital. Max disrupts the status quo and proves he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded, and underappreciated hospital. The series is inspired by the memoir of Eric Manheimer, MD, Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital
  • The Resident” 
    “The Resident” centers on an idealistic young doctor who begins working at a hospital under the training of a more pragmatic mentor who believes it’s important to shatter the romantic illusions of the first-year residents to help them survive on the job. This series focuses on the behind-the-scenes politics going on at a major hospital.
  • Code Black” 
    “Code Black” is a heart-pounding medical drama that takes place in an extremely busy emergency room, where the staggering amount of patients outweighs the limited resources available to the extraordinary doctors and nurses whose job is to treat them all — creating a condition known as Code Black.

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