Atul Gawande


  • 30-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 11 chapter summaries and 4 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a college professor with a PhD in English
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Better Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 30-page guide for “Better” by Atul Gawande includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 11 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Diligence and Doing Right.

Plot Summary

Harvard-educated surgeon Atul Gawande wrote Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance to explore the attributes that make a good doctor. The book is about both the practice of medicine and also functions as a treatise on how to live a full and meaningful life. Gawande strikes parallels between the way the medical community operates and the way individuals live their daily lives, and how we all can do better.

Divided into three distinct parts—“Diligence,” “Doing Right, and Ingenuity”—the book lays out a blueprint for self-betterment while simultaneously posing deep moral questions. Gawande examines how humans are meant to interact with the world and what their responsibilities to society are. He also explores the pitfalls that occur within the medical field. Gawande shows how, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, a planned approach and a tenacity to work hard will guarantee success for anyone, especially members of the medical community.

Better also portrays failure as a part of life. Gawande dispels common fears about failure and insists that failure is necessary for development and growth. Without failure, there can be no success. According to Gawande, though humans are flawed and imperfect, they can still strive to achieve the best possible outcomes, regardless of the personal or societal problems they face.

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