White Coat, Black Art

Read two chapters and call me in the morning: The White Coat, Black Art book club

We asked Dr. Brian Goldman and each of our guests to share their thoughts on a book that touched them personally and says something about health care in Canada. Here are their picks.

3 guests bring a book that touched them personally, and says something important about health care

This week, we're bringing you our first-ever White Coat, Black Art book club. 

The premise is simple: we asked Dr. Brian Goldman and each of our guests to share their thoughts on a book. No textbooks allowed. It had to be a book that touched them personally and says something about health care in Canada.

Here are their picks.

Dr. Nadine Caron on The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King

Dr. Nadine Caron's book choice: The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King.

Dr. Nadine Caron is a surgical oncologist with the UBC Northern Medical Program. She is the co-director of the UBC Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health.

"First of all, I love the author, Thomas King. He's a renowned Indigenous author who has lived both in Canada and the
United States. As an Indigenous citizen of Canada, he resonates with me in multiple different ways. Even though I read this book years ago, I can still vividly recall the spectrum of emotions: from sadness, anger, frustration, surprise, to humour and laughing out loud. I can't recall how many times I've actually bought this book for the pure purpose of giving it away. This book looks at the power of stories: their role in shaping who we are, how we learn about others and ourselves, and what we learn when we listen. There's a quote in this book that I have used over and over again: 'The truth about stories is that that's all we are.' I think this is the very foundation of the practice of medicine, my career as a researcher and my whole life. Thomas King makes it clear that stories can be a cure, but they can also injure. We cannot escape them either way, and we shouldn't try to."


Dr. Naheed Dosani on A Healthy Society by Dr. Ryan Meili

Dr. Naheed Dosani chose A Healthy Society by Dr. Ryan Meili as a White Coat, Black Art must-read book.

Dr. Naheed Dosani is the lead palliative care physician for Palliative Education And Care for the Homeless (PEACH) run by Inner City Health Associates. It provides mobile palliative care for some of Toronto's most disadvantaged residents. 

"Imagine this: you're standing at the side of a river, and you see a child float by in distress. You jump into the river and
save the child. You get back to the riverbank and see another child flailing in the river. You save that child as well. You get back to the river bank, and another child comes down, and another and another. Eventually someone says, 'Hey, we should go upstream to see what's causing this situation.' That's what A Healthy Society is about. It's a look at the upstream factors that impact health and health-care outcomes. It's a deep dive into what is actually causing us to be sick in Canada: the social factors surrounding income, housing, education, our justice system and social assistance. Dr. Ryan Meili not only examines these issues, but he introduces us to his patients. You meet Maxine, a young woman with HIV who is homeless, and has HIV. She falls into a substance use disorder, and eventually has to come to terms with her end-of-life journey on the streets. Through these narratives, A Healthy Society is an uplifting argument about how we might be able to make society better by investing in the social factors that are making us sick."


Julie Drury on Jesse Thistle's From the Ashes

Julie Drury chose From The Ashes by Jessie Thistle as her contribution to the White Coat, Black art book club.

Julie Drury is a patient advocate and the strategic lead for patient partnerships at Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.

"I met Jesse Thistle at a Canadian Medical Association conference this past summer where we were both panelists. I was
struck by his presence: so soft, so unassuming, but there is also something within him that is gently fierce. In his book, Jesse talks about his life as a young, Indigenous Métis child. His heritage and culture was stripped away from him, as it has been for many Indigenous people in our country. He writes about losing his identity, his sense of personhood and his connection to the world. We read about his journey as a child, young man and as a young adult in the space of addiction and homelessness. Then, like a phoenix from the ashes, Jesse finds a way out and finds a path back to himself, to the world and to society. It's absolutely inspirational. Through this book, we see the structures in our health-care systems that are not effective, and are not supporting patients, families and caregivers." 


Dr. Brian Goldman on Brene Brown's Dare to Lead


Dr. Brian Goldman says that Brene Brown's Dare to Lead has many lessons for doctors and health-care providers. (Kaille Goldman)

Dr. Brian Goldman is an emergency physician and host of White Coat, Black Art. 

"In Dare to Lead, Brene Brown talks about the role of shame in corporate culture and leadership. As I read the
book, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between what Brown was talking about and shame in health care. You have rising rates of burnout and depression among health-care providers. I think we can make the argument that some of them have unresolved shame over their fallibility and the mistakes that they make. They need a safe space to talk about feeling vulnerable because it's very difficult to be vulnerable in a health-care environment, to talk about your fears, to talk about the mistake you might have made. It's hard to tell those stories because of this fear that you're soon going to be the only one talking about your own mistakes. Brown's message is to be vulnerable. To risk being vulnerable is to establish a connection with your peers and colleagues. That's what I swear by. That's what I live by. That's what I practise medicine by these days."

Written and produced by Jeff Goodes.


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