Hard truths about dying

Sherwin Nuland, author of the 1994 best-selling book How We Die, passed away on March 5, 2014 at age 83. Harvard School of Public Health Professor Atul Gawande, spoke with NPR about reading Nuland’s book as a medical student.

While Gawande’s teachers did not consider dying part of the job, Nuland’s book said that “the doctor has a special vantage point and witness to offer around this process and people need to know about what happens,” Gawande said. It “helps you understand this is a life we’re talking about. And that, I think, captures what it means to be a good doctor.”

Gawande has written about how health care providers can better help terminally ill patients and their families make the best of the time they have left.

Through Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, Gawande works to find solutions for improving care at critical moments including serious illnesses.

Read “Remembering The Doctor Who Spoke Hard Truths About Dying” (NPR)

Learn more

The Pen and the Scalpel: profile of Atul Gawande (Harvard Public Health)