A young physician’s on-the-spot notes from her three-year residency in internal medicine, shaped into a collection of pithy, revealing little stories.
The stories, which range in length from a couple of pages to a dozen, begin with the first morning of Transue’s internship and end on the last evening of her residency. (She received her postgraduate training at four hospitals in Seattle.) The transformation from frazzled, uncertain intern to assured, competent physician is a long process, one the author reveals as exhausting, challenging, full of surprises, and often scary. Nearly half the stories take place during Transue’s first year: it’s as an intern that her experiences with patients are most intense, and it is the year in which she learns the most. Her rotation takes her through intensive care, cardiology, oncology, and the emergency room; death is no stranger in these places, and the narrative shows her growing acceptance of this fact of life. Throughout, the stories focus on patients and their conditions: the homeless man in ER who’s covered in bugs; the battered young liver patient who insists that her boyfriend would never hurt her despite black eyes, bruises, and a broken leg; the teenager wanting her first birth-control prescription; the 70-year-old woman learning that her late husband had given her a sexually transmitted disease; the old doctor dying of prostate cancer. Transue intersperses scenes from her private life—nightclubbing, dancing, sailing, working out at the gym—that offer a sharp contrast to her experiences inside hospital walls and give the reader as well as the author respite from disease and dying. In her second year, she becomes a resident, with responsibility for interns and students as well as for patients, a role that continues in her third year. By then, the excitement has faded, but her confidence has blossomed, and she is well launched in her medical career.
The perfect gift for anyone contemplating medical school.