Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jerome Groopman and "How Doctors Think"

I recently read How Doctors Think by Dr. Jerome Groopman. A NYTimes Bestseller, the book details common problems that doctors in different specialties encounter and how they think through those problems. Given my past exposure to psychology and behavioral economics, I found the book to be fascinating. Groopman shows how doctors in different fields must rely on different psychological paradigms to solve the problems they face. A radiologist and an emergency room physician almost by definition cannot think in the same manner because their information sets and time constraints differ so greatly. Utilizing various psychological theories, Groopman demonstrates how physicians adapt to their specialties, but also how these psychological heuristics can also blind the physician.

The book goes beyond merely being a descriptive exposition. Groopman is mainly writing with patients as his intended audience, and he offers some prescriptive advice at the end of the book that endeavours to help patients help their physicians overcome their internal biases.

I highly recommend this book to all medical students, especially those who are having a hard time choosing between different fields. Seeing how different specialists think is very helpful in trying to decide if that is the role one desires to inherit.

Updated 2015-12-13

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