THE INTERN BLUES by Robert Marion


The Private Ordeals of Three You
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A day-to-day account of the internship year of three young pediatricians, interspersed with commentary by a supervising physician--and it all conveys some strong messages that may not be what the author intended. Marion is a pediatric geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. In his role as an attending physician, he met with three interns--two men and a woman--at their orientation; over the ensuing year, they taped journals of the events that changed the three neophytes from trembling medical students to--we hope--competent practicing physicians. Their intent here is to acquaint readers with what exactly happens during an internship--and they certainly do that. But they themselves don't emerge as altogether sympathetic characters in the process. One intern's view early-on here is that "Most people in the nonmedical public . . .They have these myths that we're all like Dr. Kildare or Marcus Welby"--but few readers will agree that this is still a widely held view. In fact, these accounts, while intriguing (especially for medical buffs) and often horrifying, serve rather to reinforce today's emerging physician stereotypes: all three seem terribly young and immature, and on their way--solidly reinforced by this training system--to being thoroughly self-centered and insensitive. The doctors' accounts certainly do provide an accurate portrayal of the devastating process of today's urban internship: contending with astounding numbers of astoundingly ill patients (including the AIDS explosion), on terrifyingly little sleep, with utterly insufficient numbers of hospital staff (especially nurses)--all under sometimes sketchy supervision. Marion hopefully points out that the monolithic medical training establishment is attempting to address these problems, and suggests that his work may help the effort. Read simply as medical theatre, and as solid first-person reporting, this is fine. But readers wishing to hear from someone with more maturity and insight--and compassion--to put the experience into some kind of perspective will do better with a dose of Melvin Konner, or with Robert Klitzman's A Year-Long Night (1988).

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1989
ISBN: 688-06886-3
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
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