Books Every Aspiring Medical Student Should Read

Whenever you hear the words “Medical Student” and “Books” in one sentence, you immediately think of inches-thick textbooks with anatomical drawings and heavy cardboard covers. Well that is not always the case.

I am fond of books since I was a kid. When I realized I wanted to become a doctor, I began reading books about the lives of successful people in the field of medicine. I told myself that I wanted to become the kind of doctor that these books portray. And I dream of being able to publish such kind of book someday, on my own.

These books have given me inspiration and the extra push I needed whenever I’m having a hard time in medicine. So I’d like to share these titles so other aspiring doctors would know what to read when they needed motivation.


1. Some Days You Can’t Save Them All by Ronnie Baticulon

Dr. Baticulon is a pediatric neurosurgeon in PGH. This book is a compilation of stories and articles he wrote (and were published on several sites and papers) while he was training to become a surgeon. This has become an inspiration to many medical students in the Philippines as this tackles every aspect of what it is like to become a doctor in a third-world country.

“We all move forward through the kindness of others.”

“I wasn’t choosing between A, B, C and D on a test paper anymore. I had stood between life and death and I faltered.”

2. Surgeons Do Not Cry by Ting Tiongco

If I am not mistaken, this was the book that inspired Dr. Baticulon to publish his own. Dr. Tiongco is a neurosurgeon and a writer who used to write for a column in a local paper. This book is a compilation of his stories for forty long years of training and practice. Patriotism is a common theme throughout the book as the author loves to serve the country.

“Whereas the present dominant world looks at disease as a personal event, the Filipino looks at the disease as a personal event.”

“I believe that healing is a mutual process; that the healer is very often healed as he goes about caring for the ailing person.”

3. Gifted Hands by Benjamin Carson

The name probably rings a bell. Yes, Ben Carson ran for US Presidency way back 2016 but he eventually withdrew.

This book has been adopted to a movie with the same title because Carson’s story made history in medicine. Having been trained as a NeuroSurgeon at the Johns Hopkins University, Carson was the first ever surgeon to successfully perform the separation of a conjoined twins. His story has became even more inspiring with the dramatic background of his childhood. Carson is an epitome of how reading changes a person for good.

He also wrote other books such as Think Big and America the Beautiful.

4. Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker

I got this book by chance on Big Bad Wolf Sale two years ago. This books narrates how medicine evolved from the earliest Egytian practices to the Hippocratic era up to the present day. It’s fascinating to think how philosophers back then theorized the mechanisms of the human body and how these theories were proved or debunked by modern scientists.

If there’s anything that this book has taught me, it is that you’ll never truly love medicine unless you knew how and where it all began.

Here’s a similar book I got at BBW this year. This one is written in a more student-ish approach. More modern, more witty.

5. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is one of the most well-known physician writers in the US and internationally. In this book, he discusses the things that really matter. His perspective on medicine and patient-care is what every practicing physician should also have.

“A few conclusions become clear when we understand this: that our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer; that the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life; that we have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of everyone’s lives.”

Other books he wrote are: Better, Complications and The Checklist Manifesto.


The Anatomist by Bill Hayes

If you are wondering why every Anatomy book has Gray in it, this is the answer. This is a witty enjoyable novel which explores how Dr. Gray (yes he is a person) was able to put together the contents of the classic Gray’s Anatomy textbook. This is a refreshing read which will change your perspective on that dreaded medical school subkect. (Or am I the only one who dread that? Lol)

Snowball In A Blizzard by Steven Hatch

“There’s a running joke among radiologists: finding a tumor in a mammogram is akin to finding a snowball in a blizzard. A bit of medical gallows humor, this simile illustrates the difficulties of finding signals (the snowball) against a background of noise (the blizzard). Doctors are faced with similar difficulties every day when sifting through piles of data from blood tests to X-rays to endless lists of patient symptoms. Diagnoses are often just educated guesses, and prognoses less certain still. There is a significant amount of uncertainty in the daily practice of medicine, resulting in confusion and potentially deadly complications.”

Adventures in Human Being

People tend to think of brain surgeons as being very dextrous,” the neurosurgeon replied, “but it’s the plastic surgeons and microvascular surgeons who do that meticulous stuff.” He indicated the slide on the wall: a patient’s brain with an aerial array of steel rods, clamps and wires. “The rest of us just go gardening.”

In His Image by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand

Inspired by Psalm 139:14 this book discusses analogies between the human body and some basic Biblical principles and compelling spiritual truths. It portrays the human being as the most wonderful


Have you read any of these? Or do you have other book recommendations? Comment below! 😊

One thought on “Books Every Aspiring Medical Student Should Read

  1. Pingback: Things I Learned in Medical School So Far – In Perfect Acquiescence

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