discoveries magazine

Mastering the Art of Patient Care Provides Readers With a How-to-Guide for Practicing Medicine

Cedars-Sinai director of Post-Graduate Medical Education in Heart Failure and Transplantation, and author of Mastering the Art of Patient Care Michelle Kittleson, MD, PhD.

With Mastering the Art of Patient Care, Michelle Kittleson, MD, PhD, wrote the book she wished she’d had when she embarked on her medical career. The director of Postgraduate Medical Education in Heart Failure and Transplantation at the Smidt Heart Institute, Dr. Kittleson starts by tackling the most difficult questions in the field. 

Mastering the Art of Patient Care, by Michelle Kittleson, MD, PhD

How do we help trainees develop the competency to make decisions under duress and act as compassionate caregivers? How can we mentor young physicians on processing grief, overcoming the sting of mistakes and setting boundaries to preserve their wellbeing? How do we make space for family life and a medical career?

"None of my academic accomplishments prepared me for mastering the art of patient care," Dr. Kittleson writes. With this book, she provides a road map for physicians at every stage of their career—from surviving medical school to mentoring the generation of physicians that come after them. And by recounting her trials and triumphs, she gives readers an unexpected gift: an in-depth view of the human side of a career in medicine. 

"Medical training is all-consuming and at times demoralizing," she writes. "This handbook is my contribution toward making it better … my system of surviving and thriving in medicine."

The book evolved from the pearls of wisdom Dr. Kittleson amassed during her years in medicine and dispensed to students and colleagues alike. In April 2019, Dr. Kittleson took to Twitter with #kittlesonrules, a compendium of her thoughts on how to improve patient care, such as the nuts-and-bolts of heart failure management, optimizing communication with patients and colleagues, and learning from mistakes.

Mastering the Art of Patient Care reminds readers that while diseases may become routine with experience, patients must not. The book pushes physicians to look beyond blood levels, test results and vital signs, to know the person behind the numbers so they can provide the best care. 

Ultimately, Dr. Kittleson’s book makes the case that practicing medicine is about relationship building. "Trust and confidence are the cornerstones of the patient-physician relationship," she writes. "This relationship is not science; it is an art." 

Mastering the Art of Patient Care is available at most booksellers and online.