Being Mortal 
by Atul Gawande

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For years when looking for a book to read (or now to listen to) it has always been the epic fantasy and sci-fi novels that I have reached for.  This book had been recommended to me so many times however, including by leaders and colleagues in our Next Gen GP programme, that I thought I would give it a try.

In this book Atul Gawande, a world-renowned American author and surgeon, explores what it means to be mortal in the 21st century.  We are taken on his journey of facing our mortality, from the difficulties of aging to what it means to care, and finally to facing our ends. Challenging the beliefs we have as professionals and patients about the aims of healthcare.

This book is a sensitive and enlightening exploration of the trials that we face in healthcare in looking after an aging population, challenging many of the thoughts and practices that are commonplace.  The reminder that in our attempt to do good and extend life, we can in fact cause harm and distress is a humbling one. Even when we feel that we are aware of these difficulties it is still a fascinatingly complex situation to navigate.  Atul Gawande’s touching stories of his own experiences with his father’s illness and end of life expose and explore many of the anxieties and struggles that clinicians go through.  The theme of personal experience and narrative runs through every part of this book. There is humour and inspiration from his encounters with the pioneers of elderly community care, and their paradigm breaking approaches to what people want vs what we think that they need - including the surprising success of filling a care home with hundreds of live animals! This humour is contrasted with the sensitive and heartfelt exploration of what the true consequences are of when we get it wrong, and the peace and life (and for that matter death) changing impact that can be had when we get it right.

Reading this book has already changed my practice, encouraging me to have the difficult conversations with families and relatives earlier, so that in their life they can be brought into the discussion of their wishes and their mortality. Moreover, it has changed the way that I have these conversations, considering what really is important to people is a very personal thing. As Gawande puts it “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”

Finally, it has also changed my outlook on relationships with my family and loved ones. It has helped me realise that whilst care for others is at the heart of what we do we need to attend to ourselves and families as well, as – at some point – we all have to confront what it means to be mortal.

James Waldron, GP and Nottingham Next Gen GP Leader

 

Sprint
by Jake Knapp

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 A friend and colleague recently asked a group for ideas and advice on how she could support her practice in their ambitions to improve patient access as they were planning to hire in an external organisation to help. Lots of ideas were suggested and, in the middle of the discussion, this book popped back into my mind. Written by 3 designers from Google Ventures, the venture capital branch of the company, it documents an intensive 5 day 'sprint' process to develop and test new ideas in an organisation.

Now, I know most general practices and healthcare organisations don't have that a whole week to spend on developing and testing ideas for improvement... but what stuck with me was the realisation that - unlike most of my prior experiences trying to change things in my workplace -  quality improvement doesn't have to take a long time. Although the time frames suggested in this book are a thing of fantasy for most teams there are still loads of ideas that can be taken and used individually as part of a (slower) QI process. Suggestions for rapidly understanding processes and problems, for developing creative ideas and consensus in decision making, and for quickly prototyping changes to get rapid evidence of impact (or lack thereof). This book won't be for everyone, but for those interested in refining Quality Improvement processes it might be worth a look.

Will Owen, Next Gen GP

 

 

The Power of Habit 
by By Charles Duhigg

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I've read this book twice in recent years, and both times have found ways to break some bad habits and start some good ones! Duhigg is responsible for me being able to drag myself out of bed at 5am in winter for a run- something I spent years trying to get into the habit of doing!

He presents the science behind habit formation in an easy-to-read way, and is optimistic about our ability to break them: “Once you understand that habits can change,” he concludes, “you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them.” 

He makes his case by presenting fascinating stories and case histories. You'll learn how and why Target can tell which of its female customers are pregnant before they tell anyone; how Rick Warren went from a depressed minister of a small congregation to the leader of one of the biggest megachurches in the world; and why Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat started a movement when similar refusals by others had not.

I won't spoil it for you....needless to say the "Power of Habit" is a fascinating read, and a permanent fixture on my bookshelf  to return to when I find those bad habits creeping back in. 

Nish Manek, Next Gen GP

 

Radical Help 
by Hilary Cottam

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This inspiring book is based on a social activist’s series of experiments giving people the control to improve their own lives. At the heart of this way of working is human connection. Upending the current crisis of managing scarcity, we see instead that our capacity for building relationships to make sustainable, holistic change are abundant. Her research is painstaking and her practical examples are inspiring, casting a compelling vision for doing things differently. Definitely worth a read!

Nish Manek, Next Gen GP

 

Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential 
by Carol Dweck

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A thought-provoking journey through a lifetime of work into this fascinating subject. A greater understanding of  the fixed and the growth mindsets is definitely going to help me both in my consultations and within my leadership roles. 

Oblige your growth mindset for a few hundred pages and read this excellent book.

Ed Klaber, Next Gen GP Jersey

 

New Power: Why outsiders are winning, institutions are failing, and how the rest of us can keep up in the age of mass participation
by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms 

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Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

This is a great book that not only explains how the dynamics of power are changing, but also provides the tools - and, importantly, the confidence - to harness those changes to spread our ideas.  Drawing on examples from business, politics, popular culture and social justice, as well as case studies of organisations like LEGO and TED, New Power is a fascinating, easy-to-read book that really captures the essence of Next Gen GP! 

Nish Manek, Next Gen GP Cambridge 

 

 Pig Wrestling: The Brilliantly Simple Way to Solve Any Problem… and Create the Change You Need
by Pete Lindsay

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Pig wrestling is another book written as a simple narrative but with some really key points underlying.

From a personal experience it helped me look at problems in different ways, particularly reframing how I “see” the problem. It also helps you to understand how to find the strengths in the challenge you face from the resources present - something that I’ve not done before.

It’s helped me develop trust and bottom out some of the challenges I’ve faced in my developing primary care network (particularly around people and patterns of behaviour).

Frames, sponges, bungee cords, gold in the mud and crystal balls - have a read and you’ll see what I mean!

Tim Cooper Next Gen GP Wessex

 

My Job Isn't Working!
by Michael Brown

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Very light read but interesting take on what can go wrong in your career and how to start to fix it...

Ben Morris, Next Gen GP Devon

 

The Health Gap

by Michael Marmot

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Written from a public health and health economics point of view, this raised an interesting perspective of the effects of not only absolute but relative deprivation on health outcomes, something I think we all have a vague idea of but I was surprised by the degree of gradient seen in the different populations discussed and the author's take on improving population health.

It has definitely made me more aware of the issues affecting my patient population and potential differences I can expect on moving to a city practice from my current relatively rural setting.

Jennie Cox, Next Gen GP Bristol

 

 

This is Going to Hurt 

by Adam Kay

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‘This is Going to Hurt’ is a truly hilarious read that I would recommend to all.

For non medics, it gives a glimpse into the true reality of our profession and, for us medics, it gives a realistic narrative of the highs and lows of our profession.

Adam Kay takes the reader on an insightful journey of what our profession entails; he eloquently describes the rollercoaster of emotions we can encounter on a day to day if not minute to minute basis; the complexity of the decisions we make and the true joy that being a doctor can bring. Kay also maturely describes the pain and vulnerability that we doctors can feel when clinical situations go badly.

This book is relatable to all medics on so many levels as we can all align our own experiences with those that Kay so hilariously describes.

An excellent read and hard to put down.

Ami Mukherjee, Next Gen GP London