10 Best Medical Authors Of All Time

Medical authors help keep the public informed of the latest health trends, life-saving research, and more. 

Medical dramas are hot—from Grey’s Anatomy to Private Practice, viewers and readers love digging into medical dramas. Medical students in medical school, people who work in health care and public health, and people who simply love a good story with a scientific twist can all be captivated by the questions raised about the human condition by medical authors. 

To make the bestseller list, medical writers have to impact the world significantly. Whether through writing about medical issues that could one day be a (terrifying) possibility or by writing about clinical trials that can make a real difference in the day-to-day life of people suffering from both acute and chronic internal medicine conditions. Let’s explore the ten best medical authors of all time, including primary care physicians, authors of medical thrillers, medical education experts, and more. 

Best Medical Authors Of All Time

Best Medical Authors

1. Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton via Wikipedia, Public Domain

New York Times bestseller and Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton wasn’t just known for his dinosaur-themed dramas—he was also known for medical thrillers, including The Andromeda Strain (1969) and Drug of Choice (1970). The Chicago-born author was celebrated for his thrillers that examine how the world may change as technology continues to advance. Crichton’s penchant for the written word was evident early in his life, as he had his first piece published in The New York Times when he was just 14 years old.

While Crichton started as an English major at Harvard, he later switched to studying anthropology, likely informing many of his literary works later in life. Crichton’s books have grossed billions over the years, and the author has sold more than two million copies of his books worldwide. Crichton was never trained to write contemporary fiction; rather, he was heavily influenced by Victorian classics.

In addition to his medical thrillers, Crichton is also known for his autobiographical, travel-focused writing, providing readers with a real-life view of his sense of adventure. Looking for more scientific books to binge on a weekend? Check out our round-up of the best scientific authors! Or you can also search for our best book guides using our search bar.

The Atlantis Plague: A Thriller (The Origin Mystery, Book 2)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Riddle, A.G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 11/16/2013 (Publication Date) - Legion Books (Publisher)

2. Abraham Verghese

Abraham Verghese
Abraham Verghese via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Dr. Verghese is widely known for the medical drama novel Cutting For Stone, which spans fifty years and several continents. Born in India, Verghese moved to America with his family during college. He spent a year working in an American hospital as an orderly before returning to India to complete his training to become a physician.

Verghese says that his time spent working as an orderly heavily influenced him later in life. He felt that seeing the hospital from an orderly’s perspective taught him what patients experienced through varying levels of hospital care and made him even more dedicated to becoming a physician.

Cutting For Stone isn’t just praised for its rich first-person perspective and culturally rich notes—readers also love the detailed medical information in which Verghese’s expertise shines through. In addition to writing, Verghese (who continues to serve patients as an internist) is also a professor and Vice Chair at Stanford University School of Medicine. Verghese enjoys passing his medical expertise onto young medical students, even though they may not use their talents as creatively as Verghese.

Cutting for Stone
  • Great product!
  • Verghese, Abraham (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 667 Pages - 01/26/2010 (Publication Date) - Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (Publisher)

3. Anton Chekhov

Chekhov wrote many medical short stories, including Ward No. 6 and Enemies. The 19th-century Russian author is known for bringing high-level medical knowledge to his writing. Considered by many to be one of the greatest authors of all time, Chekhov was a doctor by profession and drew inspiration from his interaction with patients. Chekhov is known for works that challenge the reader, but the author made no apologies for his sometimes-tough-to-follow writing style, insisting that as an artist, it was his job to ask questions—not answer them. 

Widely considered one of the greatest writers of all time, Chekhov’s medical tales have set the standard for similar short stories. Many of Chekhov’s works were made into theater scripts that are still critically acclaimed today. In addition, many of Chekhov’s works are respected for their unique perspective on the human condition.

Chekhov's Doctors: A Collection Of Chekhov's Medical Tales (Literature & Medicine)
  • Great product!
  • Coulehan, Jack (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 09/12/2003 (Publication Date) - The Kent State University Press (Publisher)

4. John Keats

John Keats
John Keats via Wikipedia, Public Domain

One of the most revered poets of all time, Keats also trained as a surgeon, informing his written work. Keats’ father died in a horseback riding accident when Keats was young, and his mother passed away from tuberculosis when Keats was a teenager.

Left an orphan, he began to study under their family doctor, where he discovered a love of medicine. However, after Keats received his apothecary license, he gave up his medical career to focus on poetry (and the literary world is forever grateful for his choice). In a sad twist of fate, Keats passed away from tuberculosis in 1821, like many in his time. 

Keats had a tumultuous start to his literary career and received mixed reviews when he began publishing his works after choosing to leave the world of medicine. Keats eventually became widely praised for his literary prowess but struggled personally throughout his life. He lent large amounts of money to family members, leaving himself to struggle financially. While Keats’ exact cause of death has not been determined, it’s suspected that he met his mother’s fate, passing away from tuberculosis.

The Complete Poems of John Keats (Modern Library (Hardcover))
  • Hardcover Book
  • Keats, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 04/26/1994 (Publication Date) - Modern Library (Publisher)

5. Siddartha Mukherjee

Siddartha Mukherjee
Siddartha Mukherjee via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Named a bestselling author by The New York Times, Dr. Siddartha Mukherjee is an oncology clinician, researcher, Rhodes scholar, and Harvard alum. The author won a Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2011 for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Mukherjee is also known for works including The Gene: An Intimate History, The Song of the Cell, and The Laws of Medicine. Mukherjee also commonly publishes peer review studies in medical journals and is proud to continue contributing to medical research advancement.

An accomplished scholar and physician, Mukherjee first earned his undergraduate degree in biology at Stanford before studying as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Upon returning to the United States, Mukherjee earned his M.D. at Harvard. Time Magazine has noted Dr. Mukherjee as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Mukherjee, Siddhartha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 11/16/2010 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

6. Kelly Rimmer

Kelly Rimmer’s bestseller Before I Let You Go took readers by storm in 2018. The tale of a family torn by addiction, Rimmer eloquently envelopes the reader into a world of downward-spiral chaos. The author’s dedication to detail is also clear in 2020’s Truths I Never Told You, which painstakingly tells the story of family secrets layered with mental health issues.

Rimmer does an excellent job of taking complex medical issues and humanizing them by drawing readers into family elements relatable to all. Rimmer lives in Australia and has sold more than one million books throughout her literary career. 

Before I Let You Go: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rimmer, Kelly (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 419 Pages - 04/03/2018 (Publication Date) - Graydon House (Publisher)

7. Sherwin Nuland

Yale professor and physician Sherwin Nuland delved deep into the science behind death. Unafraid to ask hard questions, Nuland explains the most common conditions that lead to death and the science behind the diseases that cause the body to shut down.

In 1995’s How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter, Nuland also explored how families and medical centers can make the best choices for patients who are nearing death, allowing them to approach the end of life with dignity. Nuland doesn’t suggest that death is something to be feared. Instead, he explains that exhibiting a sense of control over how our final days will go can provide comfort to all before the death process begins.

Sherwin taught several subjects during his time at Yale, including bioethics and the history of medicine, both of which informed his study of dying and death. In addition to his books that study end-of-life phenomena, Sherwin has also written several pieces for The New York Times, MIT Technology Review, and The New Yorker.

How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, New Edition
  • Nuland, Sherwin B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 278 Pages - 01/15/1995 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

8. Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Atul Gawande is a surgeon and public health researcher currently working as the Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development. After a long-time stint as a staff writer for New York Magazine, Gawande began publishing works of his own, including The Checklist Manifesto and Being Mortal.

While readers and critics alike have praised Gawande’s work, they’re not the only ones who have taken notice: Gawande was also selected to serve on President Biden’s COVID-19 transition advisory board. This isn’t his first foray into the world of politics—while earning his undergraduate degree at Stanford, Gawande volunteered for Gary Hart’s campaign. Following graduation, he began to work for Al Gore’s campaign and went on to work for Representative Jim Cooper, a democratic politician out of Tennessee. 

Currently, Dr. Gawande practices as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is also the executive director of Ariadne Labs. In addition to his books, Gawande has also written for Slate and The New Yorker. If you enjoyed our guide to the best medical authors, we have many more scientific books round-up that you can check out such as the best books for quantum physics.

Being Mortal
  • Gawande, Atul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 09/05/2017 (Publication Date) - Metropolitan (Publisher)

9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Few Sherlock Holmes fans know that the beloved detective was modeled after an inspiration in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s own life. Conan Doyle was professionally trained as a doctor, beginning his studies in 1876. While studying, Conan Doyle served as a doctor aboard a Peterhead whaling ship. After graduation, he served as a doctor on a whaling ship on an expedition on the West African coast. After that, Conan Doyle tried to start his own medical practice but struggled to get patients. While he worked on building his practice, he continued honing his stories.

While he eventually rose to fame as a writer, Conan Doyle spent years at university training in medicine, and one of his professors—Dr. Joseph Bell—served as the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Bell’s technique of carefully studying his patients (for example, looking closely at a soldier’s tattoos to learn more about where he traveled and what health issues he may have been exposed to) informed how Conan Doyle developed Sherlock Holmes’s character.

The Sherlock Holmes Collection: Deluxe 6-Volume Box Set Edition (Arcturus Collector's Classics)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Conan Doyle, Arthur (Author)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1952 Pages - 09/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Arcturus (Publisher)

10. Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini is a bestselling author known for The Kite Runner, a novel describing life in Afghanistan. The novel delves into the struggles of medical issues in the Middle East, including lung cancer, spleen problems, and broken bones. In addition, Hosseini is heralded for creating a novel that shows how political events and generations of violence can impact the day-to-day lives of citizens.

Hosseini earned his bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and earned his M.D. from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. After completing medical school, Hosseini completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He continued practicing as a physician for 18 months after the release of The Kite Runner.

The Kite Runner
  • Khaled Hosseini (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 03/05/2013 (Publication Date) - Riverhead Books (Publisher)

Final Word On The Ten Best Medical Authors Of All Time

If you’re into medical dramas on TV, there’s no doubt that you’ll be into medical books as well. Well-written medical books don’t just tell a great story—they also get the facts right, allowing the reader to be drawn into the story. So whether you choose to go with real-life scientific accounts that delve into why we develop certain diseases, or if you prefer stories of how medical issues affect family dynamics, there are many options to satisfy your need for a good read.

FAQs On The Ten Best Medical Authors Of All Time

Are all medical authors physicians?

Many medical authors are trained doctors, but not all. Medical authors who do not have an educational background in medicine may consult with physicians to ensure medical accuracy. 

Is The Kite Runner also a movie?

Yes, The Kite Runner was made into a movie in 2007, and a play based on the book was produced in 2009.

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  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.