Book Review: Physician, How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine

In his book, Physician, How Science Transformed the Art of Medicine, Dr. Rajeev Kurapati, MD, MBA, a hospitalist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Northern Kentucky (a member of the Mayo Clinic Center) examines the history and evolution of medicine from mystics trying to heal the ills caused by angry gods to today’s evidence based holistic care. The book is forthcoming from River Grove Press.

Sandwiched between historical aspects of medicine, Dr. Kurapati shares stories of some of his own patients and how his philosophy of care has evolved over the span of his career. As he has spent years treating patients and dealing with family members who wanted only to keep their loved one hanging on until a miracle could be found, Dr. Kurapati has found the art of medicine to be beneficial and evidence-based. He resolves that even with the continuing scientific findings and inventions, treating the whole patient is at the center of quality patient care.

As a priest once told him, healing without cure can be the best possible outcome. And listening to his patients can be the most important tool he can provide. In a lesson learned on board an airplane at 30,000 feet with only a broken stethoscope and sphygmomanometer, Dr. Kurapati had to rely on listening to his patient’s wife’s accounting and history of symptoms to determine that perhaps his patient was experiencing low blood sugar. To treat those symptoms was his best option. Fortunately, the patient recovered.

“Sometimes patients may be seeking something more than tests, procedures, medications, or referrals to another specialist. Perhaps, in conjunction with these things, they want the opportunity to be heard by a professional. But as physicians who have invested in years of highly specialized training, we’re brainwashed into thinking that something tangible—to order a test, perform a surgery, or prescribe a drug—is what we always ought to be doing. For certain patients, simply listening can be a treatment—or at least a key part of it. To go beyond the provision of “standard” medical care to become a patient’s trusted advocate provides an immeasurable service.”

I found this book to be fascinating and heartwarming all at the same time. Nursing has always been about combining the science of medicine with the art of caring. This is what has always made nursing such an essential part of patient care and the successful outcomes. If Dr. Kurapati can influence physicians to see the benefit of providing a more holistic approach to providing medical care, we can all benefit greatly from the results. This should be required reading for all first-year medical students.

It should also be a must-read for nurses and nursing students to learn how we can all work together to improved the art of medicine and improve our patient outcomes. A video pitch by Dr. Kurapati is available on You Tube. 

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