Reading Assignments for the Class of 2024

Each year, the incoming class at WVSOM reads a book together over the summer. The book always covers a medically-related topic, but written for a popular audience.

This year’s book is My Own Country by Abraham Verghese. You have until June 26 to read and respond to the questions listed below that are raised by the book – questions that were developed by WVSOM faculty members. Those same faculty members will be reading the essays for your class and giving you feedback.

Drawing upon what you’ve learned from Dr. Verghese’s book and incorporating your own personal experiences and reflections, please complete an essay response, 2-3 pages in length, double-spaced, that addresses all parts of the following three questions:

  1. Dr. Verghese shares examples of his wife and family not understanding his passion for his work. Cite one or two examples from the book that resonate with you. How do you plan to handle potential conflicts between your personal and professional life? How do you foresee balancing your own personal wellness with the wellness of your family?
  2. The book details multiple cultures, for example, Appalachian culture, Gay culture of the 80’s, Indian culture in America. Discuss one or more of the cultures presented in the book, and explain your identification with it or your concerns with it. Think about your own experiences, either living in an unfamiliar culture or a time when you witnessed an interaction of cultures that resonated with you. Compare your experiences with the experiences described in the book.

  3. On page 105, Verghese describes AIDS "as the litmus test for nurses and physicians, a means of identifying who would and who wouldn’t" provide treatment and, in doing so, risk their own health. Cite two examples from the book that demonstrate contrasting attitudes towards the care of patients infected with HIV. Should people who have committed themselves to careers as doctors or nurses be morally obligated to treat any and every patient? You chose medicine and were accepted to medical school before COVID19 became an issue – do you feel differently now about your future career? Explain both your feelings about the obligations of physicians and any changes in your feelings about becoming a physician.

This assignment is due June 26, and you will upload your essay on that date, directly into our learning management system, eMedley. Instructions for uploading will be sent via email on June 26. PLEASE NOTE: This is the first assignment in the portfolio in which you will be tracking your work during your four years at WVSOM.

Once you arrive on campus, you will have the opportunity to discuss the book during a lunch on the Thursday of Orientation. This discussion will be facilitated by members of the Class of 2023.

On behalf of the Book Reading Project Committee, we hope that you find Dr. Verghese’s memoir to be both thought-provoking and inspiring. Best wishes for your summer!