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ALiEM Bookclub: Beyond the ED – Recommendations by Dr. Felix Ankel

Taku Taira, MD |

ALiEM Bookclub: Beyond the EDMost people bring value to a community through their work and their ideas. It is the rare person who brings value by giving us a new perspective. This post is from such a person. Dr. Felix Ankel is Vice President, Health Professions Education at HealthPartners Institute and Assistant Dean at University of Minnesota Medical School. He has been a leader within the EM Education community through his national involvement and leadership in FOAMed. More than his accomplishments, he is best known for contributing to the EM education community as the resident philosopher and for his ability to bring a different perspective to any conversation. Hopefully this post will give you a taste of what we have all gained from him over the years.

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Dr. Felix Ankel (@felixankel)

It is an honor to discuss some of the books that have inspired me. I have been an avid reader since childhood when I grew up in a house without a television, a deliberate act by my parents to encourage reading and connecting with others. I learn the most from the people I interact with and the books I read, and I feel blessed by both [Link]. On a professional level, we have embedded books into the fabric of the Regions Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program (@regionsem), with residency book clubs, and books as gifts for orientation, residency six-month evaluations and holidays. Many of those books are discussed at graduation [Regions EM graduation comments]. On a personal level, three books have changed how I think about meaning, context, and process.

1. Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, 1959.61633LFpDXL

Throughout my emergency medicine career, I occasionally have felt un-centered after a particularly stressful shift or week. Viktor Frankl’s book and his experiences have influenced my search for meaning in the face of suffering and have guided my reflective practice. They have also introduced me to the concept of the “wounded healer” and Chiron as the archetype of our profession. [Amazon link]

2. Context

The Health of Nations: Why Inequality is Harmful to your Health by Bruce Kennedy, Ichiro Kawachi, 2002.


I started my career focused on my practice and individual exceptionalism rather than team based care and the health and well-being of patients outside of the emergency department. I believed that healthcare was a line with “rescue care” on one end and population health on the other.  This book inspired me to think of health care as a circle where rescue care and population health meet and where the emergency department is the canary in the coal mine for our health care system. [Amazon link]

3. Process

One from Many: Visa and the Rise of the Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock, 2005.


I have always been fascinated with the behaviors produced by hierarchical structures such as health care and education. This book is the remarkable story of Dee Hock and the origins of Visa International. Way before social networks, communities of practice, and the Internet, Dee Hock was able to transform a group of hierarchical competitors into a network of cooperating partners. This book is prescient on how this may happen in health care and #meded. [Amazon link]

Additional Reading

  • Daneault, S.  The Wounded Healer. Can Fam Physician 2008. 54:1218-1219
  • Goldfrank LR. Personal and Literary Experiences in the Development of an Emergency Physician.  J Emerg Med 2003 24:73-84. 

* Disclaimer: We have no affiliations financial or otherwise with the authors, references or hyperlinks listed, the books, or Amazon.

Author information

Taku Taira, MD

Taku Taira, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine
Associate Program Director
LAC + USC Emergency Medicine Residency

The post ALiEM Bookclub: Beyond the ED – Recommendations by Dr. Felix Ankel appeared first on ALiEM.

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