News & Press: eConnections

Book Review: The Rules of Medicine

Friday, August 28, 2020  
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In a brutally honest, witty handbook on the unwritten rules of medicine she has learned throughout her career, Dr. Sonya Sloan (#OrthoDoc) imparts bite-sized wisdom for medical trainees at all levels in her book “The Rules of Medicine: A Medical Professional’s Guide for Success.”  

In her book, Dr. Sloan delineates 34 Rules of Medicine in a straightforward, guidebook fashion. These rules range from trusting one’s gut to learning the business side of medicine. Each of Dr. Sloan’s rules is rooted in a personal experience that had a major impact on her life and career. While many of her stores are awe-inspiring and remind readers of why they chose to pursue medicine, some stories are heartbreaking and reflect the sides of medicine that many find difficult to acknowledge.

Through stories that span her entire medical career, Dr. Sloan inspires her readers with emotional, touching anecdotes of patients who have touched her lives, in both good and bad ways. At the same time, she refuses to sugar-coat the reality of medicine—some patients won’t like you, some of your colleagues won’t be your friends, and some things are not in your control. Two things are made strikingly clear throughout her book. As a surgeon in the male-dominated field of Orthopedics, Dr. Sloan was inevitably singled out because of her gender and placed in positions her male colleagues never had to experience. But instead of allowing those obstacles to overshadow her love for surgery or affect her patient care, Dr. Sloan has embraced the challenges that were presented to her and developed a calm, tasteful approach to handling misogyny in her field. But not only has Dr. Sloan faced obstacles due to her gender, being an African American woman in Orthopedics has exposed her to the unfortunate reality of hostile patients who do not want non-white physicians caring for them. Her stories reveal a critical need in medicine—that physicians who have the privilege of being accepted by all patients wherever they go have a responsibility to defend and advocate for their underrepresented colleagues. 

True to her steadfast nature, Dr. Sloan imparts helpful advice and lessons learned at the end of each anecdote. Her Rules of Medicine are meant to guide medical trainees on a path to be leaders within their respective fields. Every one of her rules was borne out of her own trials and triumphs so that we as the readers can benefit and learn these rules in order to become the great physicians we were meant to be.

Dr. Sonya Sloan is an orthopedic surgeon based in Texas. In addition to practicing medicine, she also runs non-profit organizations, established a healthcare clinic in Haiti, and runs a STEM summer camp for minority students. She is also the First Lady of The Luke Church, a wife and mother of three children. She can be found on Instagram @SonyaSloanMD and on Twitter @SonyaSloanMD.


Tishina Tittley is a fourth-year medical student at Howard University College of Medicine (HUCM) pursuing a general surgery residency this year. She grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC and attended Columbia University where she majored in biological sciences. She currently serves as Social Media & Marketing Coordinator of the AWS National Medical Student Committee. Her primary research interests include surgical technology and innovation, surgical outcomes and health disparities. Ultimately, Tishina hopes to pursue a career in surgical oncology or acute critical care. She can be found on Twitter @TishinaTittley.