MEDICAL SCHOOL by Donald Drake


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Drake followed the class of '78 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in a four-year series for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and he's stitched together those articles into this pedestrian account. The students--160 of more than 4,000 applicants--enter with markedly different career expectations and sets of values; their most shared characteristic--a high parental income. Although recording general reactions to cadavers and hospital procedures, Drake concentrates on several particular students: a black woman whose artistic interests are submerged by professional responsibilities and personal difficulties; a doctor's son with dreams of a rural GP practice; a California go-getter who finds competition crucial to his performance; a Black Muslim who switches his ghetto-serving aspirations to anesthesiology; a Peruvian reformer who spells her medical school terms with work back home. Such an approach was essential for the newspaper series, and it works well enough here, for Drake covers the larger scene at the same time: the character of each hospital and department, background information, common milestones and millstones--a giant tuition increase. It's a more intimate record than Coombs' Mastering Medicine (p. 341)--a sociological approach which struggled to quantity the unquantifiable--and it's more attentive to the hidden curriculum: when students start calling patients ""gork"" or ""toad,"" or begin calculating future fees to pay back loans and compensate for hardship. A toughening process, from acceptance letter to (intern/hospital Match Day.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1978
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Atheneum