Sir William Osler said that books are the tools of the mind. To master the science of medicine, doctors must read textbooks and journals that constitute “the literature” of medicine. Reading history, politics, and economics can make doctors better citizens and help them become leaders. Reading about sports and popular culture can help practitioners relate to patients. But can reading fiction improve evidence-based, data-driven medical practice? I think it can, and so did Osler, who cautioned that by the neglect of the humanities, which is far too general, the profession loses a very precious quality.</P>Physicians have every right to feel adrift in a sea of facts. Reading fiction can never take the place of mastering these facts, but it can enrich practitioners' personal lives and enhance important clinical skills. Here are some ways reading fiction can help:</P>Reading provides pleasure and relaxation. It's the most immediate reward of reading, but it also can have long-term benefits. Medicine is a challenging career and professional burnout is common. 1 It's important for every clinician to balance work and play, stimulation and relaxation, engagement and repose. Reading is a good way to achieve balance. Osler tells us that there is no such
The American Journal of Medicine – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2014
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