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My name is Argha and I recently began my journey to delve into books as a means of broadening my horizons and facilitating my knowledge and understanding of the world we live in. I have my own personal blog – The Dattabase – where I talk about the concepts and ideas I’ve assimilated, but would like to share some further thoughts here on Remarxs.
Medicine is an all-encompassing profession and life as a medical student can take its toll. However, the sheer workload means that it can often be difficult to read our fair share of extra-curricular books. Despite this, there are compelling reasons why we, as future doctors, should continue to read – here are my top 5.
Reading has the potential to spark novel ideas we may never have previously thought about, particularly if reading a book with specialist knowledge or introspective hypotheses we have not encountered before. Doing so can broaden our way of thinking and instil a greater willingness to embrace new concepts and see the world in a different light. This diffuse mode of learning is what inspires change and may be greatly beneficial to the future health leaders of tomorrow.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has been one of the most innovative and influential figures of the 21st century, claiming that reading books has played a pivotal role in his success.
It should come as no surprise that reading adds to our ever expanding cognitive dictionary. Not only does this teach us how to use new words in context and aid synthesis of information, but it can also help us become a better writer and public speaker – traits that are quintessential in the field of medicine. This allows us to convey thoughts and ideas more effectively and become more intelligent communicators with a greater array of tools to get our point across.
We will spend much of our careers having to influence those around us, convincing them of the decisions we make and reading provides us the tools to do this. In fact, reading non-fiction (especially first person) is thought to help develop skills in empathy by putting us into the shoes of people, or in places, we could never imagine otherwise. Patients rank empathy as the most important skill amongst doctors and this should not be taken for granted.
Reading on a regular basis requires the formation of a habit, and this is arguably a product of discipline. Such composure is a trait that can be applicable to any facet of life. Being able to manage our time in this manner helps us prioritise the tasks we wish to do in order of importance and improves our concentration and focus as a result. American actor Will Smith talks about this often, quoting in a speech that at the centre of bringing any dream into fruition is self-discipline. He goes on to say that it is about the mind – getting command of your mind to be able to choose actions that are in your own best interest. This is key if we are to excel in our endeavours.
Stress and anxiety is common amongst medical students, and at epidemic proportions amongst doctors given current healthcare pressures. The stress reducing benefit of reading is often overlooked by many people. Reading can allow one to temporarily detach themselves from the corporate world and enter a speculative realm of self-discovery and learning. It is a pastime where you can let your imagination run wild and can be a great way to kickstart your morning or perhaps unwind after a long day. This can be very therapeutic for some people. Being able to relax and switch off now and again is fundamental in enhancing our productivity on a daily basis, and so it helps to take time out from our busy lives to embrace that which soothes our mind.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of reading is the knowledge one can gain from books. American business magnate and investor Warren Buffett is widely known to spend 80% of his day reading, claiming that reading 500 pages a day allows knowledge to build up over time, like compound interest. Whatever subject, craft or speciality you are interested in, there will almost certainly be a book about it. Equally, there will also be books on millions of topics you may have never even heard of. Such is the breadth of knowledge available through this form of media. The more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know.
Medicine is about working and communicating in teams, building friendships and rapport and networking with other doctors and professionals. At the end of the day more rounded individuals are more interesting, and everyone likes interesting people.
Increasing amounts of information are becoming readily available at our fingertips in this day and age as our knowledge base continues to expand, and so we ought to make the most out of the endless opportunities for learning if we are to live a more fulfilling life.
So what did you think? I would love to hear any comments or feedback you may have! If you want to read more about my reading journey and recommended books, do visit my blogs on 'The Dattabase'
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