On Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

I’ve started reading this really great book - Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. It’s very relevant to my future dreams of working with older adults.

So, a little about Dr. Gawande: he’s a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital (which is very close by), a wonderful writer of several noteworthy books, and a researcher. He is an expert in health care and very passionate about the work that he does. Moreover, I personally greatly admire his ability to take technical terms and stories to make them accessible to all. It showcases not only medicine in a new light, but also the realities of it all. For me, he’s a great role model, for I hope to be able to combine my own passions in medicine and writing as skillfully as he does. After finishing his books, I am even more excited to enter the medical field. Check out his website here!

I have read a couple of his other novels. However, Being Mortal really stands out to me because it’s very directly relevant to the work I do in HCAB and the future career path I hope to embark on. It talks skillfully about end-of-life care, the difficulties in our medical system, and what it really means to be a physician.

Mortality is a hard thing. One that I have witnessed personally with family members and Pearl. It’s a thing that demands patience, tries one’s heart, and impacts us in ways unfathomable. What does all of that mean when you are working with the elderly population? A population which continues to grow. How do we balance the preservation of life and quality of life? These are all thoughts and questions that I grabbled with as I read the book. One thing it does do in relationship with HCAB is highlight that the work we do is important. Our program is touching the lives of our buddies while our volunteers are growing in a way that comes with this unique experience. HCAB does a wonderful job of doing what Dr. Gawande says is important: it aims to improve the quality of life for the elderly while engaging youth to become more aware of issues that impact this population. 

It's hard to summarize such a long book that has so many facets. Thus, I urge you to read it for yourself. I doubt that any review does it justice since Dr. Gawande is a skilled writer and storyteller. He is able to take apart concepts and put them together seamlessly. Read the book,  and you won't be disappointed. 

I’m not quite done with the book yet, but I will be soon. I’m excited to finish the book and reflect more on it. However, I can say with certainty that this is one book I will be reading again. Dr. Gawande writes skillfully about questions that I had previously thought about and ones that I haven’t - but are just as important. I would suggest this book to anyone, especially my fellow volutneers in HCAB. Beyond the work that we do in HCAB, mortality is a concept we will all be faced with and aging is a process we all undergo.