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MCW Common Read

The purpose of the MCW Common Read Program is to unite students, trainees, faculty, staff, and community members alike in thought-provoking discussions about timely topics.

Each year a book will be selected that exemplifies the integration of innovation, reflection, academic discourse and critical thinking. Selected books will be framed by formal and informal events allowing for engagement with the subject matter in meaningful ways that enrich the reader's experience.

The MCW Common Read Program strives to provide a foundation for conversations around change, compassion, caring, and character - we strive to make the un-common, COMMON.

2019 Common Read Book Selection

Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist

by Dr. Martina Scholtens

Your Heart is the Size of Your FistDr. Martina Scholtens spent a decade in a Vancouver, British Columbia clinic for newly-arrived refugees, providing health care for families from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. But her real mission – the challenge that shines through her fascinating book – was to accompany them on their journeys in ways that went far beyond what she learned in medical school or during her family medicine residency.

I met Dr. Scholtens in 2017 and was stirred by her book, Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist: A Doctor Reflects on Ten Years at a Refugee Clinic. She has created a heartfelt, well-written volume that describes triumphs and challenges at work. More than that though, the book chronicles how she dealt with the stress of a growing family (a husband and four kids), limited resources (government cuts to refugee health funding), patient challenges (travel, poverty, communication, and cultural barriers), professional ambiguity (when is it appropriate to go to a patient’s birthday party???), and the risks of burnout. She shares her approaches to wellness, balance, providing great clinical care, and becoming an advocate. She even writes about knowing when it was time to move on. The book brims with her caring, character, and competence. 

Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist is full of wisdom, warmth, and insight. I look forward to sharing what is found within its pages with the MCW Common Read community.”

- Written by Dr. Bruce Campbell, MD FACS, suggester of this year’s MCW Common Read, Member of the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences and the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities

2018 Common Read Book Selection

In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope

by Dr. Rana Awdish

In Shock"In Shock is a riveting first-hand account from a young critical care physician, who in the passage of a moment is transfigured into a dying patient. This transposition, coincidentally timed at the end of her medical training, instantly lays bare the vast chasm between the conventional practice of medicine and the stark reality of the prostrate patient.

Hauntingly perceptive and beautifully written, it allows the reader to transform alongside her, and watch what she discovers in our carefully cultivated, yet often misguided standard of care. The author demonstrates through engaging narrative and laser-sharp wit how the unbearable is borne. She comes to understand the fatal flaws in her profession and in her own past actions as a physician. She also achieves, through unflinching presence, a crystalline vision of a new and better possibility.

Using her exceptional recall, Awdish fashions an elegant, yet urgent call to action. As she finds herself up against the same self-protective partitions she was trained to construct as a medical student and physician, she artfully illuminates the dysfunction of disconnection. Shatteringly personal, and yet wholly universal, she offers a brave roadmap for anyone navigating illness. At the same time, she presents physicians with a new paradigm and rationale for embracing the emotional bond between doctor and patient. All told, she cogently outlines the redemptive possibilities of dismantling the barriers to connection in all relationships."

Learn more about In Shock, about Dr. Rana Awdish and register to attend a Grand Rounds presentation by Dr. Awdish on April 18, 2019.

Book Discussion Toolkit

Program Goals

Program Goals

The 2019 MCW Common Read book selection is sponsored by the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education

The MCW Common Read shared reading experience is designed to:

  • Engage the campus community and beyond in an academically focused reading experience
  • Generate robust discussions and exchanges of diverse ideas
  • Promote connections among members of the campus community and beyond
  • Provide a common starting point for building relationships
  • Equip readers with the skills necessary to approach the world with cultural humility and curiosity

Goals adapted with permission from UW Madison’s Go Big Read Program

Book Discussion Guidelines For Participants

Book Discussion Guidelines For Participants

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Book Discussion Guidelines For Facilitators

Book Discussion Guidelines For Facilitators

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Discussion Guide for In Shock

Discussion Guide for In Shock

Download the free discussion guide for In Shock, intended for use with medical school coursework, residency programs and book clubs.
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Ways to Engage

Kern Institute Grand Rounds: Rana Awdish, MD

Kern Institute Grand Rounds: Rana Awdish, MD

Join us on Thursday, April 18 from 9:00-10:00 am in the MCW HRC Auditorium for a Grand Rounds presentation by Rana Awdish, MD, best-selling author of In Shock. 

Learn more
Locate a Copy of In Shock

Locate a Copy of In Shock

Borrow a Copy

Borrow a copy of the 2019 Book Selection In Shock from the MCW Libraries. Books are available on the New Book Display at the entrance of the library. 

Find at Your Local Public Library

  • Milwaukee County: In Shock is available in print and as an ebook using OverDrive. Check with local library to learn more.
  • Green Bay, Brown County Library: In Shock is available for the Kindle
  • Wausau, Marathon County Library: In Shock is available in print. Find electronic copies using OverDrive.
Suggest a Book

Suggest a Book

Have a book in mind for the 2019-2020 Common Read? Email us!

Submit book suggestion
Writing Submissions

Writing Submissions

Submit a book review, creative writing piece, poem or drawing about the book to be posted on the Common Read Blog
Are you doing an event related to Common Read?

Are you doing an event related to Common Read?

Let us know!

Upcoming Events

  • November 21, 2019

    9:00 am–10:00 am

    Kern Institute Grand Rounds Presentation

    Medical College of Wisconsin

    Rana Awdish, MD

Contact Us

MCW Common Read Steering Committee

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MCW Common Read imagery created by MCW medical student Rushi Patel