The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

Just a reminder: Dr. William A. Reed with be present at the next All Good Books discussion group meeting this Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Community of Christ church (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) at 7 PM. We will meet in the Church Library.

Dr. Reed is the author of “The Pulse of Hope: A Surgeon’s Memoirs from Poverty to Prosperity.” Dr. Reed was a pioneer in the early days of open-heart surgery at KU Medical Center then later moved to St. Luke’s Hospital where he performed the first heart transplant at that hospital while serving as Director of Thoracic Surgery. Still later he returned to KU Med to re-establish what has become the largest heart program in this part of the country. The autobiography answers the question “How did a scrawny kid from an indigent, welfare-dependent Midwestern family become one of America’s first successful heart surgeons?”

Along the way the reader meets a passionate horseman, philanthropist, husband, father and poet. The final chapters in the book also speak to issues of faith, doubt, fear and leadership. You have the opportunity to hear him speak and ask questions on Thursday evening.  We hope you can join us.

In preparation for the meeting, here are some questions that might stimulate your reflection on the book (and if you haven’t read the book, come anyway)!

  1. On page 25 of Dr. Reed’s autobiography, he mentions Hudson’s Secret Journal. Have you read the book? Either way, do you agree with your understanding of its philosophy?
  2. On page 40 Dr. Reed discusses his wife’s childhood, her parent’s (Asay and Pauline) expectations, and their approach to parenting. How does their parenting compare to your own experiences as a child or young adult?
  3. What does the phrase “damned by faint praise” mean? Have you heard that phrase before or experienced that kind of praise?
  4. On page 59, Dr. Reed talks about “the silent treatment.” Have you experienced the silent treatment from someone in your life or used it as a tool in a disagreement? What were the results?
  5. An incident recorded on page 65, describes how Dr. Reed challenges the head of the cardiovascular department at KUMC to not “close” after heart surgery but to redo a stitch so a 6-year-old girl’s heart would not develop scarring. If your career depended on contradicting or correcting a superior, could you do it?
  6. Of all the surgical stories in the autobiography, which is your favorite? Which did you find most emotional or heart-rending? Which did you find most inspirational?
  7. Who do you think was the VIP patient mentioned on page 81?
  8. Reed places a great deal of emphasis on “good mentoring” (pages 112, 114). Have you ever experienced a “good mentor” as described by the Doctor?
  9. The concept of a “unique calling” for medicine is discussed on pages 114-115. Do you believe that any of the five “opportunities” listed on page 114 apply to other fields of endeavor?
  10. On page 116 in a discussion of mentoring, Dr. Reed talks about seeing people at their most vulnerable time. Do you see any parallels to your career or avocation?
  11. On page 122, Dr. Reed discusses “the secret of success is constancy of purpose” (Benjamin Disraeli). What is your reaction to his message on career choice? Does it apply to you?
  12. Reed explains that a good racehorse must excel while “mud and dirt and sand” are being thrown in the horse’s face (page 130). Is there a parallel in human endeavor?
  13. Is there a section or chapter of the autobiography that you found more interesting than the rest? Such as Dr. Reed’s childhood, “The Right Girl,” his ground-breaking surgeries, the chapter on mentoring, “Servant Leader,” or “Poet and Philosopher?”
  14. The author talks about the difference between horses that have an attitude and those that are mean (page 150). Do you think the same applies to pets? To humans?
  15. What does the author (page 150) mean by “no trainer ever commits suicide with an unraced two-year-old in his barn?”
  16. On pages 186-189, Dr. Reed explains his approach to leadership. Do you support his view? Do you see inherent problems with servant leadership? Have you ever worked for anyone who subscribed to this leadership style?
  17. What do you think is meant (page 213) by “optimism is a life skill that can be honed with practice.”
  18. On page 216, Dr. Reed says, “Every man dies alone with his God.” What does that sentiment mean to you?
  19. Do you understand the doubts and questions expressed on pages 216-218? Do you believe that faith can grow through doubt?
  20. Do you have answers for the questions posed in Dr. Reed’s poem on page 219?
  21. In the final chapter, “Poet and Philosopher,” the author becomes very philosophical and poetic as he discusses life span, living in harmony with your values, faith and pain, and the search for meaning and hope. What are your thoughts on the final chapter?
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