#ABookAWeek: The Making Of A Surgeon by William Nolen M.D.


Reading is a key component of learning. I do my best to read a book each week. And I'm always looking for new titles! To share your own book suggestions, use #ABookAWeek on Twitter or Instagram and tag me @NicolasCole77. If I choose your book, I'll tag you in the blog post!

Phew!  After the launch of my first book of poetry, a snowmobiling adventure up to the "middle of nowhere" in Wisconsin, reflecting on 2015 and celebrating the New Year, I'm finally back to #ABookAWeek.

This past week I read The Making of a Surgeon by William Nolen, M.D.  

Background Story

My father is a spine surgeon.  My entire life I have heard stories about his experiences in the operating room, his working on people's spines, his travels to different hospitals and of course, his humble beginnings as a medical student in residency.  However, not once have I ever watched him perform a surgery.  My knowledge of his field is, in all honesty, quite limited.

While I was home during Christmas break, I saw a very old and tattered copy of this book, The Making of a Surgeon, sitting on our bookshelf in the family room.  The book's pages were worn and torn, and when I asked my dad about it, he said, "This is the book that made me realize I wanted to be a doctor."  An intriguing introduction to the story, to say the least.

The Making of a Surgeon is a memoir written by a doctor who wanted to bring people into the complicated world of medicine.  It's all true, and his retellings of his early days at Bellevue hospital made me realize just how much goes into being a surgeon (and it is far from glamorous).

What astounded me about this book was its ability to tell a story while at the same time educating the reader and making it easy to feel compassionate for the narrator.  As the son of a surgeon, I have seen every angle: the lawsuits from patients looking to make a quick buck, the public criticism of how much money some doctors make, the long hours and many weekends I rarely got to see my dad.  But what this book made me realize (and ultimately respect) was the selflessness of the profession.  How much goes into caring for others, and how much stress a surgeon has to endure in order to do their job well.  It gave me a whole new perspective that anyone outside of medicine would be able to appreciate—and surely remember the next time they step into a hospital.

...and I should add, the writing was pretty good.  This can make or break a book, and for the most part, I found myself pleasure reading and not being overly critical of the prose.

So, if you are looking for a good memoir, I suggest The Making of a Surgeon.  It was a fun read more than anything.  But even more so, I walked away with a feeling of understanding that I appreciate, and I see tremendous value in that.

Want to join the #ABookAWeek club?  Submit below!  Every Sunday I give you a new book to read.

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