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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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text 2017-05-03 16:08
Heart of the Hunted (Brace for Humanity Book 2) by Viola Grace Review
Heart of the Hunted (Brace for Humanity Book 2) - Viola Grace

Bree has worked for the agricultural department on Imrahl until this week. She has been identified as a late-blooming breeder and is now shopping for knickknacks to fill her new apartment.

When her escort turns kidnapper and she is dropped on an alien world, running is her only option.

Arix is a master tracker as well as a hunter. When one of the precious breeders is taken, he is assigned to bring her home.

He will hunt her, he will find her, and he will bring her home.

 

Review

There are a lot of fun tidbits in this quick science fiction romance. I like the hero and heroine very much but don't feel we get as much falling in love as we did last book. The action is well paced but would like more on the type of alien the hero is and more on the heroine. Some fun with alien animals and the series arc moves forward nicely. 

 

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review 2017-04-15 01:32
A different kind of robopocalypse
Waking Gods: Book 2 of The Themis Files - Sylvain Neuvel

By chance, I saw that the second book in The Themis Files series by Sylvain Neuvel had hit the shelves. You may recall that I posted a review of the first book, Sleeping Giants, not quite a year ago and I really enjoyed it. It's a unique story that blends aliens and robots *shudder* with a heaping dose of science-y adventure and intrigue. In the sequel, Waking Gods, we're reunited with our mysterious narrator who continues to record his interactions with the team tasked with uncovering the mysteries surrounding Themis, the robot pieced together and purportedly left on earth by an alien race in the distant past. In the first book, the lid was blown off the super secret agency housing the alien creation. This book starts 10 years later where Themis and the EDC (Earth Defense Corps) are now household names. However, years of study haven't revealed all of the answers about this alien race or why they left pieces of a scattered robot across the globe. In fact, Dr. Rose Franklin is starting to wonder if maybe they were never supposed to find the robot at all... It becomes an even more pressing issue when another giant robot (larger than Themis) materializes in the middle of London. Is it a sign that they want to make contact? Is it a threat? How will the human race react? All of this and much more is explored in this book and if you thought the first was fast-paced and action packed then this one is sure to knock your socks off. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-03-30 23:56
Open Road Edition Review via Netgalley
The Oldest Enigma of Humanity: The Key to the Mystery of the Paleolithic Cave Paintings - David Bertrand,Jean-Jacques Lefrère

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

 

                I have never seen the Lascaux Cave paintings, at least not the real ones.  I did see the traveling reconstruction exhibit, which was very cool.  But truth be told, I have never really thought about cave paintings very much, outside of abstract desire to see them.

                David and Lefrere, however, seem to have spent a significant about of time thinking about cave paintings.  This is a good thing. 

                In this short book, it is possible to read this in an hour or so, David and Lefrere make a pretty good case for the cave paintings’ creation – both the how and the why.

                The theory about the why is one of those moments that at first seems so out there but makes such prefect sense when they lay out the details and take the reader along with them on the journey of discovery. 

                I am not entirely sure if I fully believe all the why part of the theory.  While the authors make a very good case, there are too many variables that can be called into account.  The process of how the art made it on to the wall – the “technology”/technique – of the animals on the walls of the cave.

                The book is very readable because the structure is done in steps.  The reader goes on the journey of discovery with the authors.

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review 2017-03-11 16:13
Untrained Fascination (Brace for Humanity, #1) by Viola Grace Review
Untrained Fascination (Brace for Humanity Book 1) - Viola Grace

Like thousands of humans, Lianne works for the Rrassic on a world she didn’t know existed. A friend stuck her neck out during registration and hid Lianne’s compatibility with the Rrassic under the guise of an existing allergy to cats.

An accident at a public event made Lianne run into the action, and a few small cuts left enough of her at the scene to give the hunters a trail to follow.

Sorrok selected Lianne as a possible mate back on Earth, but he wasn’t the one to collect her during the final extraction, so he was sure that someone else would have found their way into her bed.

His delight meets feral possessiveness, and while he changes her life, he makes sure that there is a place for him in it.

 

 

Review

 

I found this world an interesting one if highly unethical. The imbalance of power made for a lot of discomfort but at the same time it felt more realistic as to what it might be like if such abductions were to occur.

 

A like the different kinds of the "races" in the aliens. I like that the heroine has a working class job she is very good at and is in this kind of zoned out space in her head in this new reality.

 

The hero is very steeped in his own culture. He is kind over all.

 

There are some plot turns that are unexpected and interesting and the romance is much more developed, longer, and more layered than Grace's books usually are.

 

I liked it.

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