Klass (Other Women's Children, 1990, etc.) describes her pediatric internship and residency, stitching together previously...
by ‧RELEASE DATE: May 1, 1992
Klass (Other Women's Children, 1990, etc.) describes her pediatric internship and residency, stitching together previously published pieces from The New York Tunes Magazine and elsewhere with rambling journal entries and present-day commentaries on that sleep-deprived, transformative time. In this sort-of-sequel to A Not Entirely Benign Procedure (1987), which described her years at Harvard Med School, Klass details the dramatic moments of her internship--that legendary medical-boot-camp experience--in a shocked, ""I-can't-believe-I'm-the-doctor"" mode: ""So I bumble around the intensive care unit, set up to make it possible for a large group of highly trained adults to take care of a group of very sick, very small babies."" Indeed, Klass's descriptions of the ethical dilemmas that, in the form of babies too sick too live, confront doctors in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) are gripping. But the one big idea she raises--the conflict between a physician's training and the moral judgment that it is sometimes better to let an unfinished being die--is repeated so often that it loses its power. Likewise, her journal entries are (by her own admission) repetitively self-involved. Klass's best moments come when she spills some of the secrets of a large pediatric hospital: ""Common diseases have common nicknames, of course; wheezer for asthmatic (rhymes with seizer--for kid with epilepsy, giving rise to many bad songs for the Christmas show), cystic for patient with cystic fibrosis, sickler for patient with sickle cell disease."" We long for more such detail, however calculated, and less padded-sounding reflection about how afraid the young doctor was. The exception here is Klass's justified fear of the crazy person who accused her of plagiarism and made her junior year of residency a living hell. Klass employs an admirably smooth, breezy honesty, yet much of her material feels too pat and too calculated for publication to be really moving or illuminating.