Non-Clinical Career Profile

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To better your understanding of non-clinical career options and/or facilitate your physician career change, today we introduce you to Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, a physician who is still a busy clinician but is involved in numerous non-clinical activities as well. We recently came across a great article on Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, in Harvard Magazine. The article by Elizabeth Gudrais was titled “The Unlikely Writer: Atul Gawande, ‘slightly bewildered’ surgeon and health-policy scholar—and a literary voice of medicine.”


What caught our attention was the fact that Dr. Gawande epitmoizes the essence of the multifaceted career depicted in Physician Renaissance Network. Ms. Gudrais writes: “The medical writing for which Gawande is best known represents only a small fraction of his professional output. He is a surgeon, and a busy one at that, performing 250-plus operations a year. He is a professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). He heads a World Health Organization initiative on making surgery safer. And he is a husband and a father of three.”


Review of Dr. Gawande’s biography from his website reveals an impressive background:


“A surgeon and a writer, Atul Gawande is a staff member of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the New Yorker magazine. He received his B.A.S. from Stanford University, M.A. (in politics, philosophy, and economics) from Oxford University, M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as a senior health policy advisor in the Clinton presidential campaign and White House from 1992 to 1993. Since 1998, he has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine. In 2003, he completed his surgical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and joined the faculty as a general and endocrine surgeon.


He is also Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Research Director for the BWH Center for Surgery and Public Health. He has published research studies in areas ranging from surgical technique, to US military care for the wounded, to error and performance in medicine. He is the director of the World Health Organization’s Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care.


In 2006, he received the MacArthur Award for his research and writing. His book COMPLICATIONS: A SURGEON’S NOTES ON AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and is published in more than a hundred countries. He was editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2006. His most recent book, BETTER: A SURGEON’S NOTES ON PERFORMANCE is a New York Times bestseller and one of’s ten best books of 2007. He and his wife, Kathleen Hobson, live outside Boston and have three children: Walker, Hattie, and Hunter.”


To read the full article, please visit the Harvard Magazine website.


Additional interesting links about Dr. Gawande:


  • Read about Gawande in his own words (interview with the Atlantic)
  • Read “Atul Gawande Rocks in the OR” (New York Times)
  • Read Gawande’s original “diary entries” from Slate
  • Visit the official website of the WHO safe surgery initiative
  • View a map of hospitals using the checklist
  • See Gawande discuss the checklist with Charlie Rose
  • Read along as Gawande, other doctors, and hospital administrators debate the checklist
  • Listen to “The Itch,” a song inspired by Gawande’s article of the same name
  • See the mention of Gawande in the 1993 Time article “Intermarried…with Children”


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