Common Reading Requirement

This Common Reading Assignment requirement applies only to the following programs:

  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Master of Science in Nursing
  • Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies
  • Master of Science in Genetic Counseling
  • Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology 

The Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation welcomes you to the MGH Institute. One of our goals is that students learn to be not only evidence-based clinicians, but also high-performing members of health care teams. To that end, your program of study will include learning activities, under the umbrella of IMPACT Practice, through which you develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for interprofessional collaborative practice in the delivery of safe effective patient-centered care.

As a kick-off to the theme of patient-centered care, we are asking incoming students to read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi in advance of your arrival so that you can participate in a group discussion of its themes during orientation. The story will also help form the foundation for interprofessional team-based learning you will engage in during future semesters, as you grow into your own interprofessional collaborative practice.

This first-person narrative centers on Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon resident in his mid-thirties who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer during his last year of training. The story highlights his experience as a patient and the impact on his family as they grapple with the illness and his subsequent decline.

About a month before orientation, you will receive a direct link through your school e-mail address that will allow you to access an electronic version of When Breath Becomes Air.  If you do not receive an email with the link, please contact Yolanda Mendez Rainey.

No matter what your eventual practice setting, you will be called on to work in teams with other health professionals. By introducing you to a patient’s story through Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, we intend for you to reflect on how in your future role you can see beyond the individual patient to produce optimal health outcomes.

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