Essential Books

Must-Reads for Pre-Med & Medical Students

At Med School Insiders, it’s no secret that we love reading. We’ll spare you the love letter to books and just say this: to be an effective student, doctor, and individual, regular reading is a must. Of course, the quality and content of the books is just as important as the habit. Here are our top picks. 

The White Coat Investor

Medical students and doctors are some of the worst offenders when it comes to financial literacy. This book is the single best resource for pre-med, medical students, residents, and even attending physicians to acquaint themselves with the financial nuances (including student loans, investments, and much more) specific to a profession in medicine.

When Breath Becomes Air

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgery resident at Stanford that succumbed to metastatic lung cancer. This is a short, challenging, and profound read that provides an immensely powerful perspective – one of a physician facing his own mortality. As a medical student and physician, you will face death. This book will help you keep things in perspective and understand the complex issues that arise.

Atomic Habits

James Clear wrote arguably the best book on habit change. We enjoyed it so much, we even made a book summary on our YouTube channel. You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. This book helps you understand and implement the systems necessary to bring about desirable changes, ultimately empowering you to live a life on your own terms.

Being Mortal

In writing about the health struggles of his late father, Atul walks the reader through several issues in modern medicine, specifically as it relates to aging. We often sacrifice quality of life for quantity, and in the process, undermine autonomy, dignity, and peace in the natural process of death. All medical students and physicians should be required to read this book. It masterfully addresses a disturbing problem we don't talk about.

Deep Work

Deep Work is a classic in productivity circles, and for good reason. Cal Newport addresses the issues with increasing distractibility from technology, and how it impacts our ability to focus. Pre-meds, medical students, and residents are not immune to this phenomenon. It is more necessary now than ever to deliberately cultivate focus, and Cal walks us through a practical process to improve our meaningful productivity.

Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance

What do you think is the key to success – intelligence, a rich family, something else? Angela Duckworth does a great job arguing that it comes down to one factor: grit. To be successful as a doctor, you need to be gritty, there's no way around that. Pre-meds, medical students, and residents need to read this book to understand the importance of grit, why it matters, and how to cultivate it.

What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Dr. Jubbal read this book at 26, soon after earning his M.D. His only regret was not reading it sooner. Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford, provides profoundly practical, sound, and actionable advice for students and young professionals. Even if you're well past the age of 20, you'll certainly find something useful in this highly underrated book.

Stick With It

Stick With It is another book focusing on habit and behavior change that focuses on the scientific principles demonstrated in the literature that are proven to help. This is one of our favorite books, as it has helped us be more consistent in the gym, sleep more effectively, and cultivate and implement other helpful habits. Students and medical trainees of all types will find this book useful.

The Power of Habit

Another classic in productivity circles, Charles Duhigg highlights the fundamental importance of habits in shaping us as humans, and explains that habit change doesn't have to be as complex as we make it out to be. Carefully focusing on implementing a deliberate keystone habit may be all you need to set the snowball effect of habit change and life improvement into action.

Tribe of Mentors

It's no secret - I'm a big fan of Tim Ferriss's work. In his latest book, Tribe of Mentors, Ferriss culminates the most applicable and high yield information from the word-class talent he interviews and has in his network. You will learn commonalities amongst top performers, and variations in how people choose to live life differently, yet highly deliberately. This book is a monster, but well worth the read.

Extreme Ownership

Jocko Willink, former Navy SEAL and all around badass (described by Tim Ferriss as the scariest human he's ever met), breaks down the tremendously powerful lessons in leadership. I enjoyed the book for the way he organizes each chapter - first telling a story from the battlefield, then breaking down the principles, and finally applying it to business. Students of all types will learn important life lessons.

Eyes Wide Open

Isaac Lidsky is an inspirational character. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. he gradually lost his vision as a young adult. Not to be limited by anything, he shows how self-imposed constraints and limiting beliefs are insidious and more widespread than we know. The mindsets and principles contained in this book are fundamental to living life effectively, with purpose, and in a way that minimizes regret.

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