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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for The Good Doctor
Book cover for The Good DoctorBook cover for The Good Doctor

What makes a good doctor? It's not what you think. A doctor willing to face their own uncertainty in the face of illness and treatment might just be the best medicine.

Too often we choose the wrong doctor for the wrong reasons. It doesn't have to be that way. In The Good Doctor, Ken Brigham, MD, and Michael M.E. Johns, MD, argue that we need to change the way we think about health care if we want to be the healthiest we can be. Counterintuitive as it may seem, uncertainty is integral to medicine, and you want a doctor who knows that: someone who sees you as the unique case you are, someone who knows that data isn't everything, someone who is able to change her mind as the information changes. For too long we've clung to the myth of the infallible doctor--one who assuredly tells us this is what's wrong and here is how I will cure you--and our health has suffered for it. Brigham and Johns propose a new model of medicine, one that is comfortable with ambiguity and that centers on an equal partnership between patient and doctor. Uncertainty, properly embraced, opens a new universe of possibilities.

Book cover for The Good Doctor
Book cover for The Good DoctorBook cover for The Good Doctor

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“A wonderful exploration into the nature of uncertainty in medicine and diagnosis. Medical care is at its best when the interaction between doctor and patient is collaborative; this book written by two preeminent physicians with deep insights into the profession gives us as patients great tools to be empowered.”

“In my fifty years as a doctor, I’ve not read as engrossing, wise, and important a nonfiction book about the practice of medicine. These two experienced and sage clinicians, in a vibrant partnership, have cut to the core of what makes a good doctor, which is 'Not Who You Think.' The key is to hold and use uncertainty, which leads to the healer’s goal: to be human in medicine. Bravo.”

“The Good Doctor should be required reading for anyone going into medicine.”

“As recent world events have shown, even the most experienced doctors are constantly being confronted with daunting new challenges. This field guide to modern medicine explores how uncertainty can fuel innovation—and reminds us why we’re better off choosing a physician who asks the right questions than one who has all the answers.”

“Every American could benefit from this roadmap to navigate health care for themselves and their loved ones. Drs. Brigham and Johns, two highly respected giants in medicine, present an honest analysis of health care today.”

“When it comes to health, making the right choices are important. So too, when choosing a doctor. In The Good Doctor Drs. Brigham and Johns share their insights regarding what are the characteristics to seek and to avoid when choosing a physician. Replete with illustrative stories, they share their perspectives gained through decades as practicing physicians at leading major medical institutions and their personal experiences as patients. They have combined their deep understanding of the current realities of medicine with the timeless truth that medicine is a person-to-person interaction to author this balanced and timely guide for all interested in choosing the 'right' physician.”

MICHAEL M. E. JOHNS is currently professor of medicine and public health at Emory University, where he served as chancellor from 2007 until 2012. His career at Emory began in 1996 when he was appointed executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of the Board of Emory Healthcare. He previously served as dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and vice president for medicine at Johns Hopkins University from 1990 to 1996. Dr. Johns received his bachelor's degree from Wayne State University and his medical degree with distinction at the University of Michigan Medical School. From 1977 to 1984 he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, he is the co-author of The Good Doctor: Why Medical Uncertainty Matters, a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and has served in leadership positions in many organizations.

Kenneth Brigham

KEN BRIGHAM is Emory University emeritus professor of medicine. His medical education was at Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins and the University of California San Francisco. He has served in numerous leadership roles at the National Institutes of Health, has served as editor for several scientific publications, has edited three science books, published over four hundred original works in the scientific literature, and authored The Good Doctor: Why Medical Uncertainty Matters. He also served as president of the American Thoracic Society, the principal professional organization in his area of specialty. He served on the medical faculty at Vanderbilt for thirty-nine years before joining the Emory faculty in 2002. Most recently he was associate vice president for health affairs at Emory, a position from which he retired in 2012.