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Scalia completed medical school at age 23, a 4'10"" 89-pounder intent on a career in surgery; by age 30, having rejected surgery, radiology, and even emergency room stints, she retired from the profession. She blames her own hothead temperament, the limitations of her diabetes, and the profession's traditional hostility to women for this unusual turn of events, and seems to reserve a special ring in hell for the ""white-haired bastards"" who run the show. Scalia traces her medical career, from first cadaver to last hurrah, with a cool, smart-ass edge, dissecting the quality of post-exam bullshit, recreating a resident's casual ""fillet"" of a corpse, resurrecting each angry encounter--the anecdotes are lined up like dominoes. She moved with lab-partner-then-husband Les from New York to California to Texas, leaving one unsatisfactory position after another. Sometimes the long hours wore her out (diabetes needs careful management); often she left in a huff; always there was someone who made her work unpleasant--an arrogant instructor, a jabbing chief, a bitchy nurse--and almost always she responded in kind. One wonders, finally, why anyone with such competence could find so little satisfaction and so much antagonism. Florence Haseltine and Marie-Claude Wrenn have already documented the difficulties of women in medicine, but they stuck it out; Scalia writes with more style but her experience is harder to comprehend.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill