Understanding healthcare is no easy feat. With so many different policies and laws that vary by state, region, and country, getting clear answers when it comes to healthcare policy or how your plan works can be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are resources out there to help you improve your healthcare literacy. So in hopes of helping you demystify healthcare, we’ve compiled a variety of books below for you to check out.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Books for Patients to Better Understand Healthcare & Healthcare Policy
- Best Books for Healthcare Professionals
Each book covers a different corner of the healthcare world. A few authors recognize that bedside manner is failing as computers take greater control in hospitals. Some commend improving patient knowledge thanks to manuals and exhaustive text on granting us more control over medical choices. Still, other authors are not satisfied with the current healthcare system and wish to challenge professionals to improve healthcare, not just maintain it.
So, whether you are a patient or a caregiver, if you are looking for a book to enlighten you or enhance your knowledge, check out the options below.
Best Books for Patients to Better Understand Healthcare & Healthcare Policy
Healthcare doesn’t have to seem so unapproachable. Most nurses and doctors want you to have the best insights possible so you can live a healthy, productive lifestyle.
That said, healthcare policy is still policy and can change as new bills pass into law. Treat these books as a jumping-off point, and be sure to stay up to date on your local healthcare laws.
1. Your Patient Safety Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself and Others from Medical Errors by Gretchen Lefever Watson, PhD
Dr. Watson wants to help you assume control of your medical needs. That way, you’ll be better informed next time you have a doctor’s visit. In her book, Your Patient Safety Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself and Others from Medical Errors, Watson will teach you how to raise awareness, prevent the spread of infection, and avoid harmful medication interactions.
Understanding the right questions to ask the medical staff will better prepare you for medical visits and help keep you safe.
2. Finding the Right Treatment by Jacqueline Krohn and Francis A. Taylor
The comprehensive 700-page guide Finding the Right Treatment will help you analyze conventional and alternative healthcare methods. You can use the guide to look up your symptoms or disease and compare hundreds of treatments and therapies to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
The authors address hospitals, surgery, radiative treatment, and vaccinations. With this encyclopedia, you'll have more tools to make better decisions about your health and your healthcare.
3. Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir by Sonya Huber
Whether you are going without or struggling to pay for it, United States healthcare is a stressful subject, and healthcare reform is usually next-in-line for discussion. We all want reasonable coverage, no matter our income bracket.
In Cover Me, author Sonya Huber details the immense struggle she went through to get coverage—even when it meant working jobs she didn't like—or couldn't stand.
4. Rejuvenating: The Art and Science of Growing Older with Enthusiasm by Ron Kaiser
Age may impact how you feel, but it doesn't have to define how you live your life. There are many books from the MD perspective, but Dr. Kaiser's book takes on health from a psychological standpoint.
Staying mindful will keep you motivated about both your mental and physical health. In this book, healthcare is about your whole care.
5. The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin B. Nuland
No part of aging isn't part of the greater journey. In The Art of Aging, Dr. Nuland points out that the healthcare process involves taking care of your inner self as much as your outer self.
According to Nuland, if you pair complex psychological health with general healthcare, you'll age well. Likely, you'll be happier, too.
6. What Nurses Know and Doctors Don’t Have the Time to Tell You: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Home Healthcare by Pat Caroll
What Nurses Know is your home reference guide to getting the most out of your medical care. This guide will also teach you how to have a more productive relationship with your physician.
For those of you who have very little knowledge or education in healthcare or need some good advice, this is the book for you.
7. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid
In The Healing of America, T. R. Reid sets out to discover why and how other nations have healthcare under control. What she finds out is that they don’t.
In fact, most countries are experiencing their own set of healthcare problems. This book is an excellent survey of the problems plaguing healthcare systems at home and abroad.
8. A Clean Bill of Health: Restoring American Medical Exceptionalism by Myles Saunders, MD
A Clean Bill of Health is about the broken US healthcare system as a whole. This book is brimming with classic American can-do spirit.
And though it may sway at times towards one side of the political spectrum, after removing blame and politics, you'll find one person's pragmatic approach to fixing our healthcare system.
9. The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands by Eric Topol
Unless you can afford house calls from your physician, you're in the majority. Most of us are forced to wait months to see a doctor for 15 minutes. Then we spend endless money on inconclusive testing.
That's all changing. In The Patient Will See You Now, Eric Topol explores how computers are giving people back the control they need and deserve to make educated healthcare choices.
10. The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm, at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter
Medical advancements in technology have saved countless lives. But as medicine improves, new dangers arise. Bugs and miscalculations happen on your PC.
Imagine, then, how problematic this is for a hospital. Despite this, computers have given doctors access to a breadth of new information. Today, practicing medicine with diligence, compassion, and insight takes on a whole new meaning. Let The Digital Doctor inform you on this quickly evolving field.
Best Books for Healthcare Professionals
Small advancements have led to monumental changes in healthcare. Even so, some battles for improvement are self-inflicted. Here are a few books we’ve picked out for healthcare professionals that peek behind the curtain of the medical world.
11. Letters to a Young Doctor by Richard Seltzer
Regarded as one of the best medical essayists, Dr. Seltzer is the sensei of medical prose. Those who appreciate well-written but sentimental philosophy will find great pleasure in this read.
In Letters to a Young Doctor, Seltzer instructs on how to avoid immediate judgments so you can react with kindness.
12. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Though they may not know it, almost everyone on the planet has benefitted from Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer. Her stolen cells have led to the development of vaccinations, fertilization, and even cloning.
And although billions of dollars have exchanged hands thanks to Henrietta’s DNA, her family is tragically too poor to buy health insurance.
13. Physician Wellness: The Rockstar Doctor’s Guide, Change Your Thinking, Improve Your Life by Rebeka Bernard, MD and Steven Cohen, PsyD
Physician Wellness was written for doctors who need to discover techniques to improve their mindset. Doctors Bernard and Cohen encourage you to set boundaries for a better work-life balance.
They even have suggestions on how to increase personal motivation, so you can find joy in your work again.
14. The Doctors’ Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignác Semmelweis by Sherwin B. Nuland
It's now common knowledge that washing one's hands will help prevent the spread of infection and disease. At one point, no one had a clue.
Dr. Ignác Semmelweis, a Hungarian-born physician, developed this revolutionary idea. As a result, mothers have been spared postpartum infections and, in particular, puerperal fever. Read about it in The Doctors' Plague.
15. I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse by Lee Gutkind
Burnout and bureaucracy, extenuating circumstances, growing pains. These are all trials that can affect a career in healthcare. If you find yourself questioning your path, you're not alone. You may find some solace in the stories of those who have come before in I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out.
After all, there are others out there who have been through it. This book shares just a few of their stories.
16. Forensic Nurse: The New Role of the Nurse in Law Enforcement by Serita Stevens, RN
Nurses now play pivotal roles in preserving evidence to solve crimes. If you are considering a well-paid position in forensic nursing, you'll need to know about maintaining evidence and dealing with trauma.
That said, Forensic Nurse doesn't go too far into details, but it does provide some interesting commentary.
17. Emergency 24/7: Nurses of the Emergency Room by Echo Heron
In Emergency 24/7, Echo Heron chronicles the stories of nurses who work in emergency rooms. Inside, interviews and stories will make you laugh and break your heart.
There’s a particularly compelling, if not heart-wrenching, series of interviews about 9/11, too. If you want to know what being a nurse in the emergency room is really like, this book doesn’t sugarcoat it.
18. When Nurses Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming the Cycle of Nurse Bullying by Cheryl Dellasega
Even in nursing, bullying happens. Dellasega details how it can come at you from your coworkers and your superiors in When Nurses Hurt Nurses. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is growing, too.
If you’ve been a victim of bullying, the author lists some resources to help. She also gives you a few worksheets to help either diffuse or work through any volatile experiences.
19. And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II by Evelyn M. Monahan
We’ve heard so little about the heroic deeds of US Army nurses in World War II. They may not have been at the front line, but they experienced bombings, sinking ships, and repeated terror.
If you love history, And If I Perish is a book for you. You’ll travel from Normandy to Italy and on to Africa, gathering the experience of war from a nurse’s perspective.
Improvements and Enlightenments on Healthcare
Both caregivers and patients have a personal responsibility to be informed. When it comes to the health of ourselves and others, information is power. Hopefully, some of the books on this list have piqued your interest and will help you to be a well-read patient, caregiver, or professional in the medical setting.