Careers in Anesthesiology: The Joy of Volunteering, Volume XI. By Donald Caton, M.D., and Kathryn E. McGoldrick, M.D. (Editors). Park Ridge, Illinois, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, 2008. Pages: 99. Price: $50.00.
Careers in Anesthesiology, The Joy of Volunteering is an interesting and thought-provoking collection of personal stories, anecdotes, and memories from the authors' collective experience in volunteering. The stories included in the text are woven around the core concept of “Professionalism,” which the authors' state is grounded in excellence, altruism, respect, responsibility, integrity, collaboration, and celebration of diversity. A major aim of the text, as outlined in the introduction, is to “... stimulate medical students and young physicians to know the intense satisfaction that altruistic care for others brings.” This concept of “giving back” is not only applicable to medical students and young physicians but also to all physicians involved in the care of patients. Careers in Anesthesiology accomplishes more than its stated goal and is an easy, light-hearted read that will entertain, amaze, and ultimately inspire.
Each of the eight chapters is written by a separate author and is based on the respective author’s life experiences in volunteering both within the medical mission realm and broader professional community. Each chapter is replete with the authors' personal journeys and self-reflection during their experiences. The adventurous stories take the reader to various domestic cities, such as, Dallas, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; Boston, Massachusetts; and Baltimore, Maryland, and to far away exotic places, such as Tanzania, Africa; Kazakhstan, Asia; Newfoundland, Canada; and Peru, South America. The fascinating accounts are filled with successes and failures, and triumphs, and tribulations. Although the various narratives differ, the core themes of professionalism, altruism, and compassion are woven through each and every chapter.
The text is easy to read, lighthearted, and fun. Almost all the chapters are concise, organized, and linear, without being verbose. Several well-selected pictures are included that help define the experiences of the authors and vividly portray the nature of their work. The stories are entertaining and interesting, and those with volunteer experience will easily relate to the sacrifice and sense of accomplishment. Moreover, in addition to being engaging, the stories are inspiring.
Now, perhaps more than ever, the contemporary practice of medicine is in desperate need of reinvigoration. Medicare reimbursement, health maintenance organizations, pay-for-performance, quality metrics, evidence-based medicine, government relations, lobbying, and innumerable more issues bombard the practice of medicine daily. All these issues have conspired to depersonalize the practice of medicine and have subsequently led to various degrees of physician burnout. Careers in Anesthesiology is a timely reminder of why we have chosen medicine as a career and is a perfect vehicle with which to rekindle our enthusiasm for medicine.
I enthusiastically endorse this book as a valuable addition to the library not only to anesthesiologists but also to physicians in any specialty. Published by the Wood Library-Museum, this text continues the model of excellence, creativity, and accomplishment that are the hallmarks of that great institution. It is a fascinating and humbling collection of stories based on the concept of volunteerism that will, no doubt, inspire many to give back.
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. firstname.lastname@example.org