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5 Books All Aspiring Medical Students Should Read

Medical students are the unsung heroes of many healthcare industries around the world. They are fresh eyes and new ideas in an ever-challenging world of medicine. Whether in developing countries or developed, the experiences of these inspirational individuals make for some incredible reading. You may laugh, cry or some combination of the two. But if you want to become a medical professional, here are five top picks to keep you entertained on the journey.

Your Life In My Hands – Rachel Clarke

Formerly a television journalist, Briton Rachel Clarke decided to switch careers aged 29. For many doctors, medicine has been their only career. But for Clarke, she had thought that the experiences she had on the ground as a journalist would make another role pale in comparison. Hours “under fire in Congo’s killing fields”? They’d make medicine seem a walk in the park, right? Wrong. From the start of her engaging and charming book she makes it clear that the real challenges she has faced began in the wards of her training hospital.

Written with inimitable candidness, her honesty jumps off the page. You can’t help but like the narrator, and get drawn in to the story of her journey. From conversations with Prime Ministers about ‘water closets’ to letters to the national press decrying the state of affairs in the NHS that prompted national protests, the links between her current and past careers is undeniable. Perhaps because of this her voice is strong, her passion infectious and her perspective refreshing.

A must-read memoir for those wanting to switch up the monotony of the day job for the challenge of a lifetime: working in medicine.

The Real Doctor Will See You Now – Matt McCarthy

Skipping across the pond, Matt McCarthy‘s first year of med school is underlined with humour from the outset. His first line: “It started with a banana peel.” shows his bemusement at some of the experiences he had when starting out at Columbia University Medical Centre, New York.

He details his supportive relationships with his second-year adviser Baio, the trials and tribulations of night shifts and the fear associated with being ‘on call’. More importantly, though, he talks about what he has learned. Not from his university studies or even his supervisors…from the patients he cares for. Of course, like all of the books recommended here, there is a disclaimer at the start. It’s along the lines that whilst the stories are based upon clinical experience, in order to maintain the integrity of the Hippocratic oath sworn by doctors around the world, details have been changed to anonymise patients’ information. However, there is a reality to the words McCarthy writes, and a tenderness without saccharine sweetness in the manner in which he reveres his charges. In particular, the relationship with Benny who had taken up residence in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant is a pull on the heart-strings.

Definitely worth a read, and good for raising aspirations too – with his humble beginnings Matt is now an associate professor in medicine as well as serving on the Ethics Committee at a top NY hospital.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

The topic of this tome – death – is one that makes many uncomfortable. It is, however, a daily colleague of medical staff. As someone with a conflicted relationship with medicine – a tone of disappointment in an absent father who was brilliant as a physician and lacking in consistency as a parent runs throughout this book – Kalanithi introduces himself as someone who wanted to be a writer rather than a doctor from an early age. This would clearly have been a great career path, evidenced by his careful craftsmanship as his challenging yet compassionate tale unfolds.

Paul, it turns out, has passed away and this book is his last foray into the world: an examination of his experiences from both sides of the table as a neurosurgeon and a cancer patient. In his own words, “Life isn’t about avoiding suffering.” By turns delighting and devastating, this tale speaks of humanity and the search for knowledge and joy regardless of an insurmountable illness.

Harsh but true, doctors must grow used to death. What better way to learn than through the words of one who’s experienced both?

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor – Adam Kay

Adam Kay is no longer a doctor. After many expensive years of training, and eye-watering experiences to last a lifetime, he hung up his stethoscope in 2010. What remains of his medical career are an assortment of tidbits and anecdotes hastily scribbled down during his time as a Junior Doctor working for the NHS.

A rallying cry for his comrades who were still under the cosh from political attacks, Kay sees himself as a counterbalance to the negativity published about the health service. From the absurd to the sublime, this book beggars belief and will leave you with no questions where the phrase, “It takes all sorts to make the world go round.” comes from.

Witty footnotes and translations of jargon mean that Kay’s book is informative as well as compelling. Contrasts of days filled with filing and night shifts that would make your hair curl (or straight-up fall out) are intertwined. His conclusion? A very heavily worded letter to the Secretary of State for Health that, if you’ve made it thus far, you’ll be vehemently agreeing with and echoing with your own shortly after. See him read from his book here.

Life as a Medical Student: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A dose of reality from 30 medical students – Sihame Benmira

Catchy title, but it does exactly what it says on the tin. This book is aimed at the multitude of young people who know they want to become medical doctors but have little understanding of what the training entails. The provenance of many medical tomes is clear through the authors’ prominence – and yet, who better to hear from than those who have walked the path before you?

Benmira successfully tracks the changing emotions and experiences of those pursuing long years of study to achieve that coveted title: Doctor ____. The chapters are organised for first to fifth years, and one for those who are intercalating in a specified area. Sleepless nights and high workloads are common themes, but this is a gem for people requiring a dose of reality…or reassurance that it’s not just you going through it!

Books for Finance Students and Investors Alike

Finance is a constantly developing industry, and one it is ever more crucial to understand thoroughly in this technological age of enlightenment. There are endless fresh approaches to business and fresh opportunities, too. So it is little wonder that degrees in finance-related subjects are some of the most sought after in the world. An attractive proposition, here are some books that illuminate the diverse world of finance – from insurance to banking, real estate to investment. Here are our top books for finance students and investors alike.

The Finance Book: Understand the numbers even if you’re not a finance professional. Si Hussain and Stuart Warner

First, an introductory text designed for people without an in-depth understanding of the industry. This book is written in easily accessible language by a successful CEO (Hussain) and a Chartered Accountant (Warner). The Finance Book encourages you to think like a financier. Of particular interest may be the sections on interpretation of documents and dossiers or strategic theories for robust decisions in business. Other topics covered include pricing and costing, ratios, and debts and profit. Great for new managers, budding entrepreneurs and future finance students, this book is digestible and direct in its content. A must-read, full of insight and time-saving ideas.

Uncommon Sense: The popular misconceptions of business, investing and finance and how to profit by going against the tide. Mark Homer

Entrepreneur and investor, from the early age of 15 Mark Homer has dedicated his career to the pursuit of a financial career. He began by investing and reinvesting in several businesses. Now he’s known for writing a plethora of essential reads for those wishing to invest in the property markets.

This guide, released in 2017, is for all those wanting to know some hard and fast rules for success. A self-confessed ‘spreadsheet geek’, in his wittily titled ‘Uncommon Sense’ Homer outlines some lesser-known ways he has learned to enjoy success. How? By deconstructing the myths of the industry such as ‘Most assets make no money’ or ‘gut feelings’ which should be ignored!

Who is Homer to dictate the rules? A man whose portfolio of the property now ranges into hundreds of assets, and whose ‘algorithm’ when applied accurately can open up opportunities in commercial and residential property alike. He has now reached an audience of tens of thousands. Homer also enjoys the accolade of having written the top 4 books in the UK on property development. It’s a good starting point for those desirous of avoiding pitfalls that have befallen many in recent years hoping to ‘break’ the markets.

Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginner’s Guide to Levelling-Up Your Money. Erin Lowry

This book does what it says on the tin! It gathers together advice for the current generation of would-be investors to ensure that they make astute decisions when choosing where to place their money. Many questions rest on the lips of young people wanting to access the burgeoning market of finance: when, where and how to invest being just the tip of the iceberg.

From the basics of understanding the lingo to more hands-on guides written in a tongue-in-cheek tone. Opening with an ‘infomercial’ style intro, signed off by Lowry simply as ‘Erin’, there’s no doubt as to why it shot to the top of the bestsellers’ list in the US…the ‘221 pages of fun’ that detail how to avoid being risk-averse in a game that encourages (a certain amount of) risky business. Chapters that are titled as the questions framed by Millenials wanting to invest, Lowry’s answers are drawn from personal experience and hard-learned lessons.

Entertaining and enlightening – read ‘Broke Millenial Takes On Investing’ and if you enjoy it, look up Lowry’s other titles too.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street – The Time Tested Strategy for Successful Investing. Burton G. Malkiel

An oldie but a goodie, you can’t argue with over 1.5 million copies sold. This is no ‘easy reader’, however. Now in its 12th Edition, you may wonder how relevant a text ‘A Random Walk’ could be. Well, the publishers have acknowledged this in the new preface and they suggest the reason for another update is the ever-growing spectrum of tools available to the public and the industry to manage their finances.

Unpicking the financial crises of recent years, and analysing the impacts and uses of developed technologies, this is surprisingly enjoyable to dip into and well-written to ensure secure understanding can be gained. With a title derived from an insult on Wall Street, this text explores intricacies of the financial markets often deemed unfathomable by most aspiring investors. Best enjoyed in stages rather than settling in on a cold winters’ night, Malkiel’s book is essential reading nonetheless.

So those are your starters-for-ten. Enjoy! They’ll become your new best friend, whether you are hoping for a career in finance, studying for a degree or considering an investment of your own.

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Is a Career in Higher Education Right For You?

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If you’re currently doing some soul searching to figure out what career might be a good fit for you, a career in higher education may be the answer.

Working in higher education is rewarding because you would be part of an institution that has a higher mission to educate and empower others who are hoping to make a better future for themselves and the world at large. You may think that becoming a professor is the only option in higher education, but there are many job roles at an institute of higher learning.

Universities, although many are non-profit, function very much like businesses. They need people with varying experience and backgrounds to fill different job positions. Here are a few jobs to consider.

Admissions Representative

Every college will have a department focused on outreach and admissions. Without admissions, it’d be hard to recruit new students. Being an admissions representative means having the ability to connect with people, speaking eloquently about the benefits of attending your college, and promoting the school overall.

In these roles, you will get to meet and talk with a wide variety of people. You’d serve as a link to college for potential students and families. This would be a great job to get at your college alma mater since you chose to attend that school yourself and would be a great ambassador for its good qualities.

Student Advisor/Counsellor

There are many opportunities to serve as a resource for the most important people on campus – the students. Students usually don’t realize they need support. Many are away from home for the first time or they are the first in their family to attend college. They go through a transition period and some can benefit from the support of counsellors and advisors.

Consider roles such as residential advisers, academic student advisers, career counsellors, and personal counsellors. Some jobs may require advanced degrees and some may only require a bachelor’s degree. Be assured that these roles are vital for the student body’s health and wellness.

Teacher/Professor

If you love to teach and instruct others, consider becoming a professor on campus. Professors will usually have both teaching and research roles. Academia can be very rewarding as you can lead groundbreaking research.

It is also rewarding to pass on your knowledge to students. You may think that you require years of study to get an advanced degree, but today there are options of getting an online degree in teaching. Some online universities offer doctoral degrees as well, which you can complete remotely, conveniently, and in a timely manner.

Athletics

If sports are something you are passionate about, consider working for a school with an athletic department and programs. Those with large athletic departments have a full array of staffing needs, from marketing to support staff, to coaching. With a background in playing or coaching, consider getting a job as a coach.

It can be very rewarding to serve as both a coach and mentor to college students. If you like to write and liaison with media, consider working in the media relations department where you can report on game outcomes and athletes, and attend games.

Alumni Relations

Consider working in alumni relations, the department that plans and implements alumni and donor events. They ensure that alumni remain connected to the college and focus on fundraising events. Alumni relations specialists help to create networking opportunities for students and alumni. They help to create a tight-knit community of past, current, and even future university members.

Whether in an administrative or academic role, working in higher education offers numerous benefits. You would be part of something bigger and have the opportunity to truly believe in what you are doing. Consider working in higher education, as it may be the path to a fulfilling life and career.

Special thanks to Eileen O’Shanassy for providing us with this article. Eileen is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking, and you can find her on Twitter @eileenoshanassy.

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