Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview with David Bernstein, author of I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old


Title: I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old Author: David Bernstein
Publisher: Dynamic Learning
Pages: 202
Genre: Health/Fitness
Format: Paperback/Ebook

 Life is an aging process. Each of us will go through it in our own way. How we lead our lives when we are old, particularly as we near the end, is, I believe, worth pondering. In this way, "I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old" serves as a guide for all of us as we age, providing topics for contemplation and discussion with friends, family and colleagues. "You're Old" uses real patient experiences to explore what happens as we age-physically, mentally, and socially. The book also examines the tremendous abilities of medicine today as well as its limits, and the social issues that adults in America face as they age. Each chapter concludes with Notes on Living Longer, and a resource section, providing topic-specific information on organizations, websites, and other expert sources that can help the reader better understand and prepare for the prize of surviving youth and middle-age: becoming old. "You're Old" is written for the aging and the aged, their children, and younger people who aspire to grow old. It is written for the physicians, nurses and other providers who care for the elderly. The experiences explored in this book include the "good news and the bad" as the inevitable ravages of age intrude into the lives of Dr Bernstein's patients. From the most mundane situations to the truly sublime, the tales illuminate the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of aging along with the diverse strategies people use to adapt to its realities.

For More Information

  • I've Got Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old is available at Amazon.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Accomplishments I am most proud of in my life are graduating medical school and becoming a physician, raising successful children, and publishing my first book.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My upbringing had a major impact on my life and writing. As I was growing up neither of my parents read very much but they were both devoted to their children and insured we all got a good education. My parents had great admiration for writers and authors and I know that inspired me in one way or another. My parents, especially my father who was a WW II combat wounded veteran imparted on me that I was capable of anything if put my mind to it.

When and why did you begin writing?

I really haven't been much of a writer until I published my first book. I had written short articles in my medical school newspaper, hospital newsletter, and was involved in writing at least one article in a professional journal. I wrote my book because I had wonderful stories to tell and lessons to share with my audience

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest in writing began at my high school graduation. The graduation address was delivered by David Fisher. He had been a graduate from my high school 10 years earlier and I admired the fact that in such a short period of time he had become an accomplished writer. On that day I vowed to write and publish a book one day.

When did you first know you could be a writer?  

I don't know exactly when I knew I could be a writer, but as I mentioned earlier, my parents instilled in me that I could do anything I  put my mind to.  To me, that included writing a book!  Additionally, during my medical training, I learned how to do things by following this philosophy taught by my professors; “See One, Do One, Teach One”.  I applied that philosophy to writing a book.  Once I committed myself to writing my book, I told my family, friends and patients, knowing full well that they would hold me accountable; and they did.

I have always been able to tell great stories and motivate my patients with the lessons each of the stories had. I realized that I had messages to deliver as well, in one way or another.  I decided in 2007 that I would put those messages down on paper so people other than my patients could experience what I have to say.

What inspires you to write and why?

I have been inspired by the everyday stories I have heard from patients I have treated throughout my career. Each and every story has brought me such joy and inspiration. Writing the book has taught me a lot about myself and what I needed to do to make myself become a better person and become healthier.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I am most comfortable writing nonfiction and using short vignettes and stories to illustrate that in the world “common things are common”, and there's a lot we can all learn about the common things in life; we don't have to look very far.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write my first book by the author, David Fisher. Additionally, my patients and friends who told me I had a gift of telling stories that stimulated them to ponder and become motivated to make major life-changing decisions.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

Once I determined I was going to write, I was influenced by several great medical writers: Jerome Groopman, MD, Naomi Reman, MD, Atul Gawande, MD and by the nonmedical writer Malcolm Gladwell.        

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The most challenging aspects of writing has been finding the time in my very busy schedule to organize my thoughts around the different stories, and translate them into sensible, coherent and meaningful material for the reader.  In addition, as a physician I have always held myself to a higher standard of getting things right, and this is a challenge to “get it right the first time” as a part-time writer.      

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

It's hard to itemize all the things I learned while writing my book.  It took five years to write and during that period of time, I learned something new just about every day. Once I completed the book I had a great deal to learn about the publishing industry. After that, I spent at least two years learning how to market my book and prepare for my next. From the standpoint of subject matter, once I organized my chapters and dug in to the research, I learned even more about the secrets to a happy, healthier, longer life. Furthermore, there is limitless wealth of information about the subjects I plan to write about.

Do you intend to make writing a career?

I intend to continue to write and practice medicine. Over the next five years I anticipate transitioning from the day-to-day practice of medicine to more writing speaking and teaching.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

The particular writing style that I enjoy the most is telling a story about real life situations. The feedback I have received from my readers is that this style is what immediately grabbed their attention and interest in my book. Furthermore, the supplemental data and resources that follow in each chapter reinforce self-directed learning on that topic, as well as a very clear list of “Lessons to Live By”   that readers can immediately incorporate into their lives.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

My greatest strength as a writer at this point is my 30+ years of experience as a physician and nearly 60 years as an observer of life. I have the great fortune of having wonderful relationships with my patients who will share their innermost thoughts, trials, and tribulations including their own personal flaws, and lessons they've learned.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My favorite quality about myself is that I am sincere, I like to laugh, and I genuinely enjoy being kind to people.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

My least favorite quality about myself is that I have high expectations of myself and others.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

I have many favorite quotes. The following quote that stands out that I use periodically, (especially with my patients who may be in despair) is from M. Scott Peck; “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” What I particularly like about this quote is that it has a great ability to defuse people (including myself) when expectations are high life should be fair, but it generally isn't.


David Bernstein, MD is a highly respected physician who is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Geriatrics practicing in Clearwater, Florida. His 30+ years of experience have provided him with opportunities to observe and empathize with thousands of adults as they age. His compassion and ability to see the souls of his patients has compelled him to share his stories in his book “I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News You’re OLD: Tales of a Geriatrician What to expect in Your 60s, 70s, 80s and Beyond” Dr. Bernstein has served as chairman of his hospital’s Pharmacy and Therapeutic committee for 20 years helping to improve patient safety and outcomes. During this period of time, he also served on the board of the local Jewish Family service and as chairman. As an associate clinical professor in the department of medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, he has taught the skills he has acquired over the years to first and second year students. Dr. Bernstein has been a nursing home medical director for 20 years. He was responsible for addressing administrative and quality assurance issues. “When you give, you get back” he says about what his patients have told him and taught him about life and aging. His writing style of telling stories about his patients allows the reader to understand the complex emotions and struggles of growing older and losing independence. He lovingly tells these stories adding his own insights about this complex process. Dr Bernstein is an avid public speaker, addressing various medical topics with his colleagues and with the community at large with a focus on families facing the complex problems as they near the end of life. For More Information

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