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Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School Paperback – Bargain Price, July 1, 1988


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Paperback, Bargain Price, July 1, 1988
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (July 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140111166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140111163
  • ASIN: B001G8WICS
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,343,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"In an arresting and candid commentary on the medical profession," wrote PW, Konner, who went to medical school when he was already an established anthropologist, passionately criticizes the way that doctors are trained.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author started medical school in his mid-30s, having already established himself as a researcher and professor of anthropology. He focuses on the third year of medical school, for that is when the aspiring physician gets his or her first extensive exposure to patients. Highly critical of medical education and practice, particularly the fostering of detachment toward patients, he admits that current suggestions for improvement stand little hope of adoption. Perhaps most telling is his decision not to go into a residency but rather to return to anthropology. Konner's evident maturity and broad experience enable him to present a wider-angled look at medical education than most such reports; thus his criticism is particularly convincing. Recommended. Anne Twitchell, EPA Headquarters Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Why does Konner think we would be intersted in his detailing of medical school.
richard lieberman
He writes well and I found his stories entertaining and engaging, even if they were a bit discouraging at times.
2nd year student
To me, it seemed that he was trying to tell me too much and that I wasn't smart.
W. Cope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By 2nd year student on January 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
By the time I had read about 1/2 of this book, I realized that the same thought kept occurring to me over and over....'Konner is writing about everything that I despise in medicine and medical education'. Everything he said and every story he told simply reinforced the old stereotypes of big hospitals, residents, and medical students.
Thankfully, my experience with medical education thus far is not representative of what Konner is writing about, which is what enabled me to take the things he said with a grain of salt and remember that I was only reading his opinion. He writes well and I found his stories entertaining and engaging, even if they were a bit discouraging at times. I appreciated his comments regarding being upset that patient care did not always seem to be a top priority of those he was working with, and that this bothered him. It is true that this book may be eye-opening and a little taste of reality for anyone anticipating a career in medicine, however, it is important to remember that his is experience is not necessarily universal.
I was also turned off by the arrogant, self-promoting approach that Konner took to presenting this information. He certainly took advantage of this public forum to promote himself and remind all of his readers of his accomplishments and how he smart he is (as though I cared that he applied to 18 medical schools including Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Harvard, etc.).
In the end, I actually think that reading this book was a valuable experience. Although I have written about disagreeing with Konner, and not appreciating some of the things he has to say, there are things to be gained from having read his stories.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By chingy98 on November 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I will fall into the camp of reviewers who found this book to be insightful and valuable. People who see Konner as arrogant, pompous, and overly critical of the medical field are missing the point. It is Konner's prior experience as an anthropologist that allows him to analyze the social and cultural dynamics of medical workers. I don't know where Konner's arrogance is being perceived. Konner certainly judges actions and deeds according to his own values, but those values are neither elitism or pomposity, but empathy and humanism.
The premise of the book is such: at Harvard Medical School, the "best" in the country, one should receive the finest medical education and be exposed to medicine at its best. Read the book and find out what it's really like.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Konner does a good job balancing the intricate details of his third year in medical school with the broader meaning of medicine from his well-learned sociological and anthropological perspective in "Becoming a Doctor". He lets you in on the medical "culture" that arises from the intensive year of training--the language used by doctors and students (see the Glossary of House Officer Slang), the sleepless nights in the hospitals, the life and death decisions/actions that take place. I highly recommend this book to someone who is looking into a career in medicine. It provides insight into the different areas of medicine, including Emergency, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Neurology, Surgery. But more importantly it probably provides a realistic peek into western medicine so that prospective students do not necessarily enter medical school bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kris on August 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book does have a few redeeming qualities; it has some excellent descriptions of the different rotations (although the medical info itself is about 20 years out of date), a useful glossary of "House Officer Slang", and goes into detail about the "ugly underbelly" of medical rotations... residents who spend their time mocking patients behind their backs, etc... but I had to fight my growing disgust of Dr. Konner, and my basic dislike of his personality, to finish the book.
His arrogance oozes from the pages, even as he attempts to paint a portrait of himself as a humbled by his experiences. He tells the reader how firmly he believes in the equality of women, while panting over a gorgeous 15 year old girl, whom he fervently hopes will show up in his exam room. In fact, he spends much more time discussing the various female patients he finds himself attracted to, than he spends discussing his small family. I really wanted to hear more about his attempts to balance a family and young children with the hectic pace of medical school, than about his rampant hormones.
In short, if you want to read the book, check your local library. It does have useful discription of clinical experience, if you ignore Dr. Konner's often ludicrous, outdated asides. But, if you are looking for a GOOD book on medical school, written by an insightful doctor, with more recent medical info, read "White Coat: Becoming a Doctor at Harvard Medical School" by Ellen Lerner.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Craigo on August 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I know some of the faculty described by Dr. Konner -- his depictions were hilarious and very recognizable. Beyond these portraits, I found the book occasionally interesting but continuously irritating.

You get an MD in medical school, but you don't become a doctor until residency - that's when you learn to take care of patients. Med school is to being a doctor as a 6 week driver's ed course is to becoming a race car driver. It is a bit ironic that medical school is where all the emphasis on ethics, communication, managing emotions seems to be concentrated, but it's residency where the rubber hits the road and this information could be most useful. however, Dr. Konner never did a residency. This makes his patronizing fly-on-the-wall-observer, mature-man-among-callow-chumps attitude even more irritating. I would argue that he never did become a doctor -- he just read the cliff notes

You get a taste of "doctoring" in medical school -- but just a taste. you don't know what it is really like until you do it.
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