The Nature of Disease: Pathology for the Health Professions Second Edition

The Nature of Disease: Pathology for the Health Professions Second Edition PDF

Author: Richard L. Daft

Publisher: LWW


Publish Date: October 24, 2013

ISBN-10: 1609133692

Pages: 800

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

This Second Edition of The Nature of Disease (TNOD) is, like the first edition, written for a particular audience: students in the health professions.

In this edition, I combine three important features to bring students a unique learning experience.

• First, my writing style is deliberately casual. It is a narrative (storyteller) style, which is less formal than the stiff prose that populates similar textbooks. My experience shows that it makes reading and learning easier.
• Second, each chapter opens with a review of normal anatomy and physiology. Given that pathology and pathophysiology are nothing more than normal anatomy and physiology gone wrong, a brief review prepares the reader for the disease discussions that follow.
• Third, each chapter focuses on one or more case studies, which bind the material together and make it more memorable.

Classroom Vetted

TNOD literally grew out of a classroom. When I joined the academic community in 1997 after a career in the laboratory business, the classroom was an alien place to me. I puzzled over the fact that the students I taught, who were of the very highest quality, still had trouble grasping the material. I began to pay more attention to the textbooks available, and learned the student perspective of most pathology texts: they are difficult to read.

Much of the difficulty springs from the fact that most pathology books are compilations written by multiple authors, each with a certain writing style and with differing views about the relative importance of things. Their style is generally formal. The text doesn’t flow, and reading is bare of enjoyment. I avoid these problems by bringing a single point of view and a natural writing style that is easy to read and remember.


Having spent much of my professional life communicating with busy physicians buried in a blizzard of paper, I know that brevity, manner, and style are the essence of written communication. TNOD adopts a deliberately casual narrative style, which served me well in medical practice. It makes reading easier, holds the reader’s attention, and enhances understanding and recall of important points without sacrificing scientific relevance.

TNOD focuses on answering the most important questions that students have about every disease— definition of the condition, its cause, how the anatomy and physiology change and evolve, how it is diagnosed and treated, and the outlook. Along the way, the text uses a number of devices to deepen understanding, retain interest, and enhance recall:
• Much of the molecular and microscopic detail typically found in similar textbooks has been eliminated. Each chapter focuses on the essentials necessary to build a broad, fundamental understanding, with supporting detail where relevant.
• New terms are boldfaced and defined at their first use in the narrative. This practice alerts the reader to the importance of the new term, which is defined in the same sentence, or the one immediately following. Terms of secondary importance are italicized.
• Selected important phrases are italicized for emphasis. For example, in Chapter 7, Disorders of Blood Cells, the following italicized phrase emphasizes the threat of colon cancer: . . . until proven otherwise, the cause of iron deficiency anemia in adult men or postmenopausal women is occult (undetected) bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
• The narrative is sprinkled with quotations—serious, whimsical, or humorous—to humanize the material and make the subject matter more memorable. For example, Chapter 9, Disorders of the Heart, begins with a line from country and western singer Tim McGraw’s tune, “Where the Green Grass Grows”: “. . . another supper from a sack, a ninety-nine cent heart attack. . . .” This snippet of lyric speaks volumes about the American diet and heart disease, and students invariably enjoy and remember it.
• History of Medicine boxes further humanize the narrative by presenting historical anecdotes that put in its historical perspective. For example, in Chapter 23,Disorders of Daily Life, the box titled French Food, Fast Food, Fat Food discusses the history of restaurants, the development of fast food in America, and the devastating rise of obesity in America since World War II. Study of the history of medicine makes the scienctific points memorable in a way not achievable otherwise.

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