An account of medicine, marriage and motherhood, executed with style and enough humor to offset the not-always-happy endings for patients.
Make no mistake: For all you hear about humanizing the process, giving residents more sleep time and so on, medical training has not changed much. Medicine remains a craft built on a strict hierarchy. Med school begins with two years of class work followed by two years of rotations as interns in a hospital’s clinics. Then comes residency for several years to learn a specialty and maybe more time on a fellowship, until you finally graduate and can call the shots. Attending physician of anesthesiology Au, who began writing humor while an undergraduate at Wellesley, plunges in on page one describing her experience as a fledgling intern asked to reach into the rectum of an obese, demented man to get a stool sample for occult blood testing. After this episode, she backtracks to discuss the whys of choosing medicine and then proceeds chronologically. The daughter of physicians, she was accepted at Columbia’s excellent College of Physicians and Surgeons. At the first student mixer, she met Joe, the man she would marry and by whom she would have her first child—just as she changed her residency training from pediatrics to anesthesiology. So add nursing a babe, finding a nanny, firing said nanny, assuming new and increasing patient responsibilities (with attendant fears and anxieties) and dealing with crisis situations, and still Au and her mate soldiered on. The books ends with the couple obtaining joint appointments in Atlanta, she with a 9-5 job as an anesthesiologist and Joe on a fellowship in ophthalmology.
An upbeat memoir by a woman still imbued with the idealism to serve, but also to be there for her husband and two sons.