Attending isn’t necessarily a book for everyone, but I appreciated many of the ideas Dr. Epstein puts forth. I think the primary audience is anyone in a health care provider, student, or administration role. However, as a massage therapist and chronic illness patient I still found the ideas relevant and eye-opening.
First, I’ll say that Attending rotates between being interesting and being a bit dull. It’s certainly well researched, with about 35% of the book being footnotes and references.
Dr. Epstein clearly describes the components of being a mindful physician, as well as having a mindful medical practice. Those components are qualities that anyone in the health care field can incorporate into their interactions with both patients and colleagues.
This was a point in the book where I wished I knew doctors who practiced this way. And then I considered buying copies of the book for all of the physicians I see regularly. And reading it out loud to each of them!
After describing the ideals of Attending, Dr. Epstein explains the reality physicians face every day. With electronic health records and productivity quotas, the structure of health care today doesn’t automatically encourage a mindful approach. But that’s why mindful, compassionate, and curious practices matter more than ever. Epstein makes a strong case for this approach as a method to help prevent and / or fix physician burnout.
After reading about the realities of a doctor’s life, I expect to be a more compassionate and understanding patient as well. Plus, I think the Attending approach should be taught at all medical schools and conferences. It sounds like it can save the lives of patients and physicians!
Thanks to NetGalley, Scribner, and the author for a digital review copy in exchange for this honest review.