Highly informative account of three young doctors beginning their hospital residencies.
Some 15,000 fourth-year U.S. medical students, nearly half women, are assigned residencies each spring in a national ritual called “Match Day.” Eule’s debut weaves the experiences of three fledgling female doctors who in 2006 were matched with teaching hospitals—based on their preferences and other complex data—for their first year of extended training as residents. The author traces the many fears, uncertainties and challenges they experienced while working 24-hour shifts and 80-hour workweeks. Beyond checking on patients and writing orders or prescriptions, his subjects struggled to find their way in hospitals, where they were often mistaken for nurses, and to balance careers and romantic relationships in a profession that strongly discourages marriage and pregnancy. “I will never hire another pair of ovaries to work in this department again,” said one medical director. Eule interweaves three compelling narratives. One spotlights his girlfriend Stephanie, the vivacious child of Chinese immigrants, who interned in surgery at Stanford. Another follows fashion-conscious extrovert Michele LaFonda, a radiology intern at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, who tried unsuccessfully to maintain a relationship with Iowa grocer’s son Ted, a medical intern at Columbia. A third concerns Rakhi Barkowski, an intern in internal medicine at UCLA, whose husband Scott was embarking on a career in economics. Eule is a gifted storyteller with a knack for anecdotes; one of the book’s most striking moments depicts his proposal to Stephanie on the stage of an empty San Francisco opera house. He brings us deep into the lives of these young people and celebrates the real-world rigor of residence training, though he notes that “this model pushed everything else in a person’s life to the wayside.”
Required reading for future doctors.