Thinking it rather important to get to know the new Dean at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) Off the Shelf posed a handful of questions to Dr. Sarita Verma.
What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I’m interested in books by dynamic women, written from their perspectives; specifically, those who are both visionary and poetic. Morrison won both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize in literature, contributing to an entire narrative of black women in America.
What is your favourite book and/or favourite type of book?
I gravitate toward sweeping historical novels like A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry or Ken Follett’s trilogies. I also enjoy anything about Winston Churchill. He was a very interesting leader during very tumultuous times.
What is the most influential reading you have done recently?
The Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada is the most influential reading. It urges all Canadians to work together to repair the intergenerational effects caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. It’s very timely and relevant as the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) addresses 19 of the 94 Calls to Action linked to health, education, language, culture, and youth.
As a teen who was your favourite author?
J. R. R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over and over. It was very magical. He coined the quote: “Not all those who wander are lost.” His creativity really captured my young imagination.
You now are in significant leadership role, what three books would you say are the must reads for NOSM students to make them better doctors, and more rounded, informed, individuals?
I think the three key books that I would recommend are: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Being Mortal is non-fiction and addresses end-of-life care, hospice and challenges in the profession. Gawande thinks medical professionals should “enable well-being,” not just improve it. When Breath Becomes Air is the memoir of a young neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. It’s written from the dual perspective of both provider and patient. Both
speak to empathy and humanity in medicine.
Dr. Verma has indicated she will post a few more of her book favourites on Twitter. You can find her at @ddsv3 and she will also be using the hashtag #WhereisDrVerma.