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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande

  1. How does Atul Gawande redefine what it means to "be mortal" in the context of his book? How does this definition challenge traditional notions of aging and mortality?
  2. Gawande discusses the medicalization of aging and dying in modern society. What are some examples of this medicalization, and what are its implications for the quality of life of elderly individuals?
  3. One of the key themes in the book is the importance of autonomy and dignity in end-of-life care. How does Gawande illustrate the significance of these principles through personal stories and examples?
  4. Gawande introduces the concept of the "end of life conversation" and emphasizes its importance in ensuring that patients' values and preferences are respected. Why are these conversations often difficult, and what strategies does Gawande propose for initiating them effectively?
  5. The book explores various models of care for elderly and terminally ill individuals, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice care. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each model, and how do they impact patients' quality of life?
  6. Gawande discusses the role of technology and medical interventions in end-of-life care. How do advances in medicine sometimes conflict with patients' desires for autonomy and dignity, and how can these conflicts be addressed?
  7. Throughout the book, Gawande shares personal anecdotes and experiences from his own medical practice. How do these stories contribute to the larger themes and arguments presented in "Being Mortal"?
  8. Gawande examines the concept of "good death" and challenges traditional notions of what constitutes a "good death." How does he redefine this concept, and what factors does he argue are most important in achieving a good death?
  9. The book raises questions about the role of family members and caregivers in end-of-life decision-making. How can family dynamics and relationships influence these decisions, and what support systems are necessary to ensure that patients' wishes are respected?
  10. Gawande advocates for a shift in cultural attitudes toward aging and dying. What changes does he propose at the societal level to improve end-of-life care and support for elderly individuals?

Atul Gawande, born on November 5, 1965, in Brooklyn, New York, is an American surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He is best known for his contributions to the fields of medicine, healthcare policy, and medical journalism.

Gawande graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and political science. He then attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master of Arts degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. He continued his education at Harvard Medical School, where he received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree in 1995.

Following medical school, Gawande completed his surgical residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He also earned a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Throughout his career, Gawande has held various roles in both clinical medicine and academia. He is a practicing general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He has also served as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998, where he writes about healthcare, medicine, and public health issues.

Gawande is the author of several bestselling books, including "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" (2002), "Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance" (2007), "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right" (2009), and "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" (2014). His books have received critical acclaim for their insightful exploration of the complexities of modern medicine and healthcare delivery.

In addition to his writing and clinical work, Gawande has been actively involved in healthcare policy and research. He has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and he was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Gawande's contributions to medicine and public health have been widely recognized. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the "Genius Grant") in 2006 and the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science in 2011.


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