A WOMAN IN RESIDENCE: A Physician's Account of Her Training in Obstetrics and Gynecology by

A WOMAN IN RESIDENCE: A Physician's Account of Her Training in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not just another doctor-in-training story: Harrison, an experienced family practitioner and a home-birth proponent, returned to the medical mill for additional training in obstetrics and gynecology--and what she found appalled her. A 1967 med school grad, she had become involved with the women's health care movement in the Seventies. In her New Jersey practice, she was one of the few doctors who would attend women giving birth at home; to feel more secure and to be able to also deliver babies in hospitals, she arranged to do an ob/gyn residency at an unnamed Midwest hospital on a ""part-time"" basis (working up to 70 hours a week for $8000 a year). Intending to stay four years, she left after 202 days--silently apologizing to her women-patients ""for the times I did as I was ordered."" Despite the hospital's ""humanitarian"" reputation, childbirth was medicalized to a degree she couldn't accept: episiotomies were done 99 percent of the time (""few doctors seem to know how to deliver a baby without doing one""); 30 percent of the births were by Caesarean section. ""I hate all these babies coming out through holes in the belly instead of through the vagina."" Because of her views and her part-time status, Harrison had trouble getting along with her co-workers; the other residents were overworked, resentful, suspicious. (At parties, talk was ""mostly about work and suicide."") As for the women, they were ""just like the men, taking part in and defending the militaristic training and insensitive treatment of the patients."" Thanks to Harrison's age, experience, and unorthodox practice, we get a good view of home births vs. hospital births, as well as blow-by-blow accounts of common surgical procedures (D & Cs, abortions, tubal ligations, hysterectomies). As the divorced mother of a young daughter, she also had familiar child-care problems-eased, in her case, by a supportive women's network. A new perspective with a fervent (but not strident) activist message.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1982
Publisher: Random House