Tornado of Life: A Doctor’s Journey through Constraints and Creativity in the ER

MIT. Aug. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780262046978. $27.95. MED
Baruch (Fourteen Stories: Doctors, Patients, and Other Strangers), an emergency room physician and author of two award-winning short story collections, writes a book of essays about his experiences in the ER and his philosophy of patient care. The book showcases his belief that the power of story is just as important to doctors as it is to patients. However, Baruch writes, chronic underfunding and understaffing make it difficult for doctors to make the time to hear patients’ stories, to read between the lines. Written during the pandemic, the book includes a couple of essays about working with COVID patients, but COVID is not the full focus. This is not an overtly political book about the state of the health system; it is an homage to the people Baruch has treated, failed, and helped. His ability to tell a story is what makes it so compelling. Tender, thoughtful and, at times, hard to read, it focuses on a doctor doing his best to truly hear patients, while constantly questioning whether his efforts are enough.
VERDICT Beautifully written with a different take on life, this is recommended for any collection.
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