Medical students write health-care handbook

Health care in America is a vast and complicated system undergoing great change. And while students in the health professions are well-trained in science and clinical medicine, they receive little to no formal education about health-care delivery models, insurance, policy or reform — leaving them unprepared for the system in which they will be working for the rest of their lives.

When Washington University School of Medicine students Elisabeth Askin and Nathan Moore wanted to learn more about the nation’s health-care system, the majority of resources they found were narrowly focused, opinion-based publications or dense reference books.

The students collaborated to produce a clear and concise guide to the U.S. health-care system called the Health Care Handbook. The book is a topical overview of the system, aimed primarily at undergraduate and graduate health professions students.

The book also is written for the interested lay public and those who do not work in health care but recognize its importance and wish to learn more about it.

Among the facts and descriptions of systems and concepts the book provides are explanations of inpatient and outpatient care delivery systems, health insurance and economics, and healthy policy and reform.

The book also explores some of the major issues facing the health-care system today, including medical errors, malpractice, conflict of interest and residency work hours.

The authors present issues and problems neutrally, offering multiple viewpoints so that readers may develop their own opinions.

The book also is written in a conversational and accessible tone. Each chapter ends with a list of suggested reading, keeping the book short while offering readers an avenue for more information. The goal of the book is not to convince students of a certain position but rather to provide them with the tools to cogently evaluate policy, controversies and news articles.

Several undergraduate, graduate and residency programs in the St. Louis area already have printed copies for their students, and medical schools in four other states also have expressed interest in using the book in their curricula.

The book should be available for purchase on in June. Anyone interested in using the handbook in their programs, purchasing multiple copies, or has questions or comments should contact the authors directly at