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review 2017-05-12 22:03
A must read for doctors, care professionals and health and social care institutions. And anybody else
Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity - Ronald Epstein

Thanks to Net Galley and to Scribner for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

If they asked me to provide a single word review of this book, I would write AMEN.

Ronald Epstein, the author and practising doctor with his own clinic, after years of studying a variety of disciplines (including music, meditation, Philosophy, Zen, Medicine…) and of trying to find the best way to maintain a practice sensitive to the needs of patients, compassionate, focused on well-being and avoiding suffering, rather than on billing, money and the business-side of things, published an article called ‘Mindful Practice’ in 1999. The article was very well received and resulted in the author becoming a speaker and offering training to other health professionals, emphasising the important of being mindful of one’s practice. In this book, the author shares his insight and knowledge to help other physicians avoid errors, burnout, and remember what Medicine should really be about. He offers plenty of background research and information (with abundant notes that take up more than a third of the book and a useful bibliography for those who want to check the original sources) interspersed with case stories that illustrate the topics. These include cases Dr Epstein had personal experience of (both as a physician and as a patient) and others that he’s accumulated over years of educating other professionals and talking to friends and colleagues. These cases not only reinforce the theoretical points but also add a practical and personal touch that can be lost in purely theoretical texts.

The book is written in a fluid and clear style, accessible and interesting also to those who might not work in healthcare, although it is particularly geared towards health professionals.  Due to the themes and subjects touched upon, this book would be useful to individuals and institutions heavily invested in helping people and dealing with the public, in particular, those offering care. Although many of the reflections are particularly pertinent to individuals, the emphasis on education and the fact that many of the qualities discussed, like compassion and resilience can be taught, are particularly important for organisations and institutions that manage human resources. As Dr Epstein explains, they would go a long way to help avoid professional burnout.

Although Attending mentions Zen, neurocognitive studies, philosophers’ books, mindfulness and meditation, the overall message does not require an in-depth knowledge of any of those subjects and I cannot imagine anybody who would not find something useful in this volume.

As a doctor and one who left the job a few years back less than enamoured with the way health care is organised, I kept nodding all the way through. I highlighted so many sentences and quotes that I cannot share them all, but I will choose a few ones that I felt were particularly pertinent:

Medicine is in crisis. Physicians and patients are disillusioned, frustrated by the fragmentation of the health care system. Patients cannot help but notice that I spend more and more time looking at computer screens and less time face-to-face. They experience the consequences of the commodification of medicine that has forced clinicians’ focus from the healing of patients to the mechanics of health care —productivity pressures, insurance regulations, actuarial tasks, and demoralizing metrics that measure what can be counted and not what really counts, sometimes ironically in the name of evidence-based and patient-centered care.

Maslach found that burnout consisted of three factors: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (treating people as objects), and a feeling of low personal accomplishment.

But now, in the age of the corporatization and widgetization of medicine, there is a new kind of burnout, a slow, relentless “deterioration of values, dignity, spirit and will” that comes from the structure of health care itself.

The problem is not only overwork; it’s a crisis of meaning, resilience, and community.

As I said, I think this book should be required reading for medical students, qualified doctors and also for other professionals working in healthcare and those who manage staff and organise the educational programmes of institutions, not only those providing healthcare but also any that deal with the public and its problems on a regular basis.

If I were to make a suggestion, it would be that the book could easily be made even more relevant to other disciplines by adding examples pertaining to other professions (not only nurses or paramedics but also social workers, counsellors, teachers…). It is clear from the content that although the principles can be applied individually, organisations would also do well adopting the ideals and attitudes highlighted by the research. Becoming attentive, compassionate, curious and mindful would help patients and staff increase their wellbeing and avoid burnout and complaints.

I recommend this book to all healthcare professionals, and those interested in how to improve healthcare and increase the resilience and wellbeing of staff. I think that anybody could potentially benefit from this book, and I’d recommend checking the sample if you think it might help you. I will definitely recommend it to some of my previous work colleagues.

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review 2017-04-28 00:04
Dr. Strange versus Wong
Doctor Strange (2015-) #19 - Jason Aaron,Chris Bachalo,Kevin Nowlan

Well, Misery has taken over Wong and is fighting Dr. Strange.   Still, it's hard when Wong knows all of Dr. Strange's secrets.   Also, the way that Strange beats Misery is heartbreaking, and his attempt to make things up to Wong are sweet, even if he doesn't get all the details right!

 

Love, love, love this series.   I'm crushed that Jason Aaron is leaving after next issue, and I may or may not get the post-Aaron run.   So many people get him wrong, and while I like what the new writer has done - I'm not 100% sure he'll nail Doctor Strange!

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review 2017-04-27 00:25
Oh, yes, please!
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015-) #18 - Amy Reeder,Brandon Montclare,Amy Reeder,Natacha Bustos

I'm still loving Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.   Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is stumped when it comes to fighting off an invasion of Doombots, especially since she's used to fighting on her own - and more recently depending only on Devil Dinosaur.   Devil might be unintelligent enough to be a pain in the ass, but at the same time, Lunella knows he's well meaning and loyal enough to be considered a tried and true friend.   She might yell at him, or even tell him he's a big dum-dum, but underneath it all, they have a friendship that's based on mutual respect.   (Lunella yells at him and calls him a dum-dum for a couple reasons, ranging from the fact that he often times can get in the way to the fact that she's the smartest person on the planet and until very recently, no one would acknowledge this, or would help her find a way out of the boring hell hole of her school life.   She'd get frustrated, and take it out on him, but... she also praises him, and very obviously cares a great deal about him and his well being.  Honestly, her yelling at him bothers me, even though I realize that it's frustration from her home life, and that Devil doesn't seem to mind, or really even be aware of how wrong what she's saying is.)

 

Still, despite this minor complaint, I love both how Moon Girl figured out how to defeat the Doombots and the epiphany she had about what it said about her and how she interacts with the world around her.   It also makes me think that with this knowledge, and with her friends supporting her, she may stop treating Devil Dinosaur the way she does.   Maybe not, because learned habits can be hard to kick - but one can hope, especially since superheroes are supposed to be the best of us.   Which means, in this case, that I'm hoping she does better sooner rather than later.

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review 2017-04-20 23:38
Review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

It had been a while since I had read a Stephen King novel.  As always, I enjoyed the story a great deal.  King has a way of writing and building characters that is second to none, and I can't recall ever reading his work and not coming away entertained.  This novel is a sequel of sorts to his famous book The Shining, but it certainly stands along as its own story.  I cannot say much that has not already been said about this book, but I would recommend it and I think that it shows King has not lost a step.

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review 2017-04-07 22:04
Good Story and Characters
The Dare and the Doctor (Winner Takes All) - Kate Noble

Dr. Rhys Gray and Miss Margaret Babcock have met. Margaret's  father is a local squire. Rhys and Margaret have been corresponding , discussing their various academic interests and scientific type pursuits.  Margaret is a talented horticulturist spending most of her time in the greenhouse . There she activated and studied a variety of plants and flowers adhering to scientific methods of study, experimentation, and recording.  Margaret is happiest when working with her roses. Margaret is seeking to grow a new variety of hardy China Rose that her late mother had loved. Margaret is shy and wary of people and places she doesn’t know. Then Rhys let's Margaret know that he has spoken to one of the most influential members of the Horticultural Society about her rose and the member has asked Margaret to come to London to present it to him. Rhys finally talks Margaret into coming to London. She is to stay with the Turnes who will be staying with The Earl and Countess OF Ashby. Once there Margaret discovers the conservatory is not suitable and she sets to putting it right. Yet her work is constantly being disrupted. Rhys and Margaret have something going on even if they don’t admit it. Rhys struggles with his feelings for Margaret. Rhys had been engaged to another woman kind of. But the woman is a social climber -Sylvia whose family was a former enemy Rhys was to marry Sylvia to make up for what his father had done to Sylvia’s father . Rhys father and older brother had ran away to Italy after his father killed Sylvia’s father.  But Rhys is the only one who truly understands Margaret and encourages her. Then Rhys is threatened to be dragged into court for breach of contract because he wants to be with Margaret and she with him.

I liked this story a lot. I liked how Margaret and Rhys went slowly from friends to so much more even with Sylvia in the way. This is a little slow paced. This did however make me choke up at times is always good for a story to reach me and make me react with my feelings. I liked the plot a lot. But there was a bit too much drama from Rhys’s  family. I liked the twists and turns of this story a lot and loved the characters and I recommend.

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