Next Medicine: The Science and Civics of Health
Walter Bortz, MD
Even though the health care systems of the USA and UK differ markedly the book caught my interest on several levels:
First the title: the next & civics aspects stand out. As for next something has to give in health care systems, not just in the USA but globally. Civics to me suggests a public and collective responsibility and level of engagement. The book's description also highlighted issues that I can relate to here in the UK nursing community. In the first chapter Bortz considers medicine's mission:
As I search for the first principle(s) from which to all else derives, I offer as a terse definition: "Medicine's mission is to assert and assure human potential." In a parallel vein, Norman Cousins ventured that "the physician's role is to help mankind make of itself the most of which it is capable (4)". Put yet another way, the physician's job is not only to cure illness or to fix broken bones, but to serve first as a mirror into which the patient peers to see the reflection of the problem, and secondly as a prism showing not just what is, but what might be. The physician's role transcends that of simple mechanical repair. The human body is infinitely more than than a deterministic machine. p.6.
I was delighted to enjoy a vacation in Kos this past week. Early on Walter Bortz refers inevitably to Hippocrates who was born and lived on Kos. By quite a coincidence the BBC Radio 4's In Our Time featured Hippocrates last week. Already, as the quote above shows (and Bortz stressing the need to attend to the big picture!) I'm really pleased to have this copy and look forward to a fascinating read and reflecting more here.