Submitted by Julia Duarte, GHF ’20
On a Tuesday afternoon, after the Class of 2020 Fellows were introduced to basic Global Health terms and to their new senior mentors at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, we split up into different groups to discuss our summer reading book, Better, a surgeon’s notes on performance. Author Atul Gawande focused on three main themes: Diligence, Doing Right, and Ingenuity. By telling short stories that enlighten readers about health in a community and on a global scale, Gawande’s writing style intrigued and captivated all of the fellows. Some of the topics discussed included the importance of washing hands, the steps to eradicating polio, the complications of human birth, and many more. The seniors led the new fellows through a discussion about each of book’s themes, asking frequent thought-provoking discussion questions. Some of the questions being discussed included “Do you support or oppose the involvement of physicians in death penalty executions?” and “Do you feel that doctors should always follow the rule book or step away from it when coming across a problem they have never dealt with before?”. These two questions and many more helped steer discussions between the ‘17s and the ‘20s fellows. After reviewing and discussing each theme with different seniors, I came to the conclusion that Gawande had a deeper message behind his book. Not only do these series of stories teach us about medicine; but they also explain how to deal with failure and grow from it. That will determine your character, even if you are not a doctor. Every fellow should keep this lesson in mind as they begin a new year with new challenges.