Book Review – How We Do Harm

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America by Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., with Paul Goldberg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it illustrates some sinister complications with the US healthcare system. The author provides some fascinating statistical information regarding a variety of medical subject matter. His illustration of life-altering treatments evokes thought-provoking skepticism from the reader. Simultaneously, physicians who read this book should be encouraged to develop honest relationships with their patients. To be a good doctor, you must put the patient first, before prosperity and/or prestige.

There are few things that detract from my giving it a 5/5 rating, however. Unfortunately, the author expresses a fixation on racial stereotyping throughout the book. Being an African-American, the author probably has had numerous racially provoked experiences, but incessantly discussing racial profiling seems beyond the scope of this book.

Although I do agree there is unnecessary spending in medicine, frivolous expenditures occur in low, middle and high income classes. The author expresses obvious bias when he repeatedly states abuse of the system by private insurance patients, but gives little acknowledgement to the other end of the spectrum.

The author’s ultimate goal is to illustrate a broken healthcare system in the United States, and I must say that he does so successfully. I highly recommend this book to any premed or medical student, as well as to all physicians. There is a lot of information that can undoubtedly lead to better physicians throughout the country. Overall, this was a fantastic read.

Description in one word: Eye-opening

Rating: 4/5

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6 responses

  1. I will have to read this book

    1. It’s a great choice. Let me know what you think if you read it!

      1. I will, whenever i get the extra time to. I have been focusing on my personal statements and the MCAT exam. In which I am terrified to death.

      2. I forgot to mention if you ever need advice just let me know! I love helping people out with the application process whether it’s testing, personal statements, or whatever. Good luck!

      3. Well that is great because I will most definitely need it. Any advice you want to give now? 🙂

      4. As far as personal statements, I always have 2 major suggestions. I’ll post those here and will try to make a more detailed blog post about personal statements sometime in the next few days!

        1) Try to stand out with your opening sentence. You need to catch the reader’s attention immediately. It doesn’t have to be the first sentence but that’s what I recommend if you’re able to do it. The reader is already going through a meticulous and often monotonous process of reading pages and pages of essays. If you’re able to catch their attention, you’ll be much closer to getting an interview.

        2) Be real. Think about the number of applications that schools receive each year. Now, think about how many people are same the same thing over and over about how great that school is or how it’s a lifelong dream. A lot of people spend too much of their personal statement talking about stuff that isn’t even personal. Be genuine. Don’t just talk about things you think they’d like to hear. In other words, don’t spend your personal statement sucking up to the school!

        Hope that helps!

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