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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Life of a Physician in Training., May 24, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
I was a bit apprehensive when I agreed to read and review Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind The Veil. I hoped it was not written like a text book as some of these nonfiction memoirs tend to be. I was pleasantly surprised and once I started reading this book I was hooked. The story takes us from the time of Dr.Sheff's gross anatomy class in medical school to his senior residency. Dr.Sheff shares with the reader all the experiences in training, observing and treating patients. This book reads very much like a novel and takes the reader through years of no sleep, caffeine ladden days and nights, some not very nice physicians and patients. Dr.Sheff was able to find his niche as to what kind of specialty he wanted to pursue after med school after interning in areas such as psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology. I have always loved reading books that had anything to do with the medical field, mostly fiction though but I definitely enjoyed this book. This would be a great book for anyone who is in medical school and even the layperson who is interested in the education and training of a physician.

Dr.Sheff, I feel, is a passionate, understanding and caring physician who is the model for this quote from Hippocrates;

"Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the veil. Beyond the pale., July 29, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
If you are a fan of medical procedurals such as ER or maybe Grey's Anatomy, I think you will love book. Even if you are not a fan, and I admit I am not, not really, I think you will find this book fascinating.

There are many reasons to like this book. I believe it's written for two audiences.

The private audience where an experienced doctor reveals to aspiring doctors full of youthful aspiration, the trials, tribulations and challenges of his own experiences so they can learn, without making the mistakes he made, and without having to undergo the stresses he underwent, and the cumulative and punishing nature of those stresses, and the havoc they can wreak on personal relationships. Perhaps there is also a salutary lesson about doctors who have compassion, and doctors who have lost their compassion for not only medical students, but also the patients to whom they owe the greatest degree of care. Some doctors possessing great doctor skills, lack other important skills which you will discover in this book.

The public audience for people such as myself, with no background in the medical field, but with a curiosity about what does go on behind the veil. Dr Sheff writes extremely well going from the abstract to incredibly detailed as necessary, as he reveals his medical experiences. I must say he relates the story in such a way that you identify with the character as if you were there, seeing what he sees, feeling what he feels, hearing what he hears. The book is extensively footnoted so that when a myocardial infarction, or tachycardia arises you can immediately read the full explanation.

Highlights for me were from the strangely unreal anatomy classes where they carved up the recently living, to the gynecology rotation where he had a stimulating encounter with an extremely attractive blonde who volunteered for an exam. Women volunteer for such things. The love story. The psychology rotation, general practice, surgery and other disciplines. In reading this book I gained and you might too, a new found respect and understanding for doctors, and for what medical students have to go through.

Another potential title for this would be "Things I wish I knew before I went to medical school," which is why I would consider it a must read for medical students. Or, things you wanted to know about doctors but never asked.

As books go, I do not give out five stars lightly, and if you do get this book, I think you will enjoy it, and I hope this review was helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Science of the Human Body, The Art of Human Relationships, May 19, 2011
By 
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
Debates and political shenanigans abound as an attempt is made to improve health care in America. Daily breakthroughs in scientific advancements suggest that the unconquerable beast of disease and death is being diminished: daily articles about the high and ungainly costs of receiving medical care are eluding us. Internet and all media flood the public with news of hospital and physician errors that result in astoundingly long and expensive legal action, the monies from medical malpractice suits elevate the physicians insurance premiums, pad the pockets of lawyers and tickle down to patients, and we can only as 'Why?'

Richard Sheff, MD in his book DOCTOR CONFIDENTIAL: SECRETS BEHIND THE VEIL offers more information and insights into this burgeoning problem than any other book that has arrived for the public to read. That public should include patients, physicians, politicians, families of people trying to refrain from medical care for lack of money, insurance companies, and universities, colleges and medical schools. Sheff writes like a writer born, so intensely satisfying a read is this book. He offers his observations of the current medical dilemma by backtracking to his medical school days and in a most fascinating way he shares his responses to reacting to a cadaver in Gross Anatomy, to his rotations through Psychiatry, Gynecology, Obstetrics, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and the threatening stage of choosing a Specialty to pursue. He then proceeds to take us through his experiences as an Intern, and Junior Resident , and then Senior Resident, and finally into his entry into his chosen field of Family Practice. That is the progress of this book and each section or chapter is brimming with visual and auditory experiences that explain the scars the student physician incurs due to the many failures and shortcomings of our method of teaching and training doctors.

Sheff holds nothing back: his descriptions of his abuse by teaching surgeons who cast him out of the OR in temper tantrums, his constant sleep deprivation caused by the absurd hours residents are required to work, observation of how patients are often treated like objects in complete disregard for their humanity, the barrier that forms between the attending doctor and the dying patient for reasons of lack of acceptance that every human is fallible including physicians, the constant state of exhaustion that topples relationships at home (Sheff's own marriage ended in the wasteland of divorce because of his fatigue and impaired ability to communicate with his wife). The point in sharing all of this information with the reader? Sheff writes 'While this is true, the stories in DOCTOR CONFIDENTIAL speak to yet deeper roots of physician anger, roots stemming from the inevitable scars inflicted by medical training, scars reinforced in the daily practice of medicine. Whether as a result of changes in medicine or the scars of medical training and practice, on of the secrets behind the veil is that far too many physicians have lost the joy of medicine....The joy of medicine flows form those moments when a patient brings their deepest vulnerabilities to their physician. The physician in turn brings all of their capabilities - their knowledge, technical skills, humanity, and open heart - to bear on that patient's vulnerabilities with the sole goal of helping and healing them. That we as physicians get to do this every day is an extraordinary privilege. That we are paid to do so, even if not at the level we had once hoped, makes medicine a profession to be envied, not scorned....Let us not forget that placing the needs of a patient before one's own needs, bringing one's full humanity to succor and save another, it is the most noble of endeavors. This, above all, defines the profession - and joy - of medicine.'

His advice as to the manner in which physician training can be altered is sound: some of his ideas are already taking place. His chief concern is restoring humanity to the physician skill set. 'Of course, each of us wants a technically competent physician. Yet in the face of uncertainty, fear and pain, each of us also wants a caring, concerned physician who will take the time to sit with us, talk with us and our family, and meet us in the place of fear and questioning to which illness and suffering naturally give rise. These are the very qualities patients seek in a doctor when they find themselves ill and afraid.'

And this is the book so sorely needed as part of the medical training of all physicians at every level of their training. Dr. Richard Sheff has pulled back the screen covering the Wizard of Oz, finding there scarred and bruised physicians struggling with all of the insecurities, fears, angers, and frustrations form their training and expectations from the public that define humanity. He offers insights, he offers healing. This book is a treasure. Grady Harp, May 11
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4.0 out of 5 stars A True Picture of a Doctor in Training, April 19, 2014
By 
C. Wong "Book worm" (Plano, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
I was a little bit leery of this book because of the title. I tend to shy away from any book with "confidential" in its title. But instead of the sensationalism that confidential is often means it was a more of a "between you and me" situation.

Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil by Richard A. Sheff spoke of his personal experiences of a young medical student all the way through to his senior residency. My father was a family doctor. He was back from WWII and going through med school when I was in elementary school so I think back to my memories of him and think about what Dr. Sheff went through.

Richard Sheff started medical school with the idea of being a psychiatrist because of his rewarding experience of leading groups in the past but something happened as he explored the different specialties. He explores what it is like to be on a seemingly endless schedule without refreshing sleep and treat so many people. What is the answer? Studies have shown that shortening the shifts does not work, that there are more hours. Why? Because the interns are seeing the same number of patients in fewer hours. What is the solution?

Dr. Sheff tells of doctors who made a game of humiliating their interns. A few of doctors make a game of it. Just as in law school. Is this the best way to teach? As an intern, he said that there are times of not knowing what to do yet being called on to do it. I think that his picture of what goes on during doctor training, points out many of the faults, the heartbreaks and feeling of empathy for patients on rounds. I agree with him. I have been seen on the rounds as a patient. It is humiliating. It does feel like you are being used and there is no regard for your feelings.

This book was written in 2011. Some things have changed for the good but others still the same. There are many other kinds of experiences of interns that he explores in this book as to whether or not they are helpful or harmful.

I highly recommend this book as a true picture of a doctor in training and also a critique of things that need to change.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate secret is love, June 23, 2013
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As a physician and contemporary of Dr. Sheff, the stories he tells, the emotions he experiences, and the spiritual journey he takes from first year medical student to senior resident resonate with my own experiences and journey.
As I read this book, I relived the wide array of emotions and scars I have worn in my 27 year journey as a physician and a patient in our healthcare system. I laughed, I cried, I relived my anger and fustration, but most importantly, I healed my own heart along the way
This book is a must read for anyone contemplating a career in medicine, those in training, and those who have survived the grueling training and can look back with a fresh perspective on a life of healing.
As Dr. Sheff discovers in his personal journey, the ultimate secret behind the veil is love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil, March 10, 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
A thoughtful, incisive and very well written account of the practice of medicine. Moves from examples of actual patient cases to generalised truths with skill. Thought provoking and always entertaining and engaging.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great look at the life of a Doctor, May 31, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
This book was fast to read and it kept my interest with the stories of his life in medicine. I especially enjoyed the idea he presented about the fact that you could Doctor all the time and never have time left for anything else. He let us know that you are the only one who can decide if you have done enough. Work is a time hole, you can work most jobs forever and still have things to do. You're in-box will rarely be empty and if it is it will be full very soon. So how to balance work and life? It is a personal decision.

He covers his training and the problems with that. How a Doctor is trained is going to determine the care you receive, how do you get the best? He tells the reader that things have not changed much, still ridiculous hours and a huge lack of sleep on the training resident. The book is broken into two parts and both add to the adventure. Great humor and yet lots of heart. I love `Medical Dramas' and this added to my enjoyment of those shows. I have never wanted to be a doctor, but this book made me really think about that decision.

This is a great book that anyone but especially those thinking of medicine as a careen will enjoy. A great gift for the college graduate going off to medical school. Read this book and learn what happens behind the `Veil' at your hospital. Doctors 'Practice' medicine and I think that is great term to remember when you are upset with yours.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Medical Training Towards the End of the 20th Century Makes Riveting Reading, May 15, 2011
By 
L. C. Henderson (Velddrift, South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
The warmth of Dr. Richard Sheff's writing shines through this account of his training as a family physician all the way through medical school and residency more than a quarter of a century ago. The largest part of this book takes us through his years at medical school, from gross anatomy, via the fields of psychiatry, gynecology, obstetrics, surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics, to the point where he has to choose a specialty, and undergo electives and subinternship. The second part of this personal memoir covers his internship and junior and senior residency.

Each chapter of this work highlights a different component of Dr. Sheff's character, with, for instance, his compassion for others coming across most markedly in his description of his days spent becoming increasingly emotionally involved with the patients in a psychiatric institution. In his endeavors to help the patients, he clearly goes above and beyond the bounds of duty. In fact, his empathy for those afflicted with various mental illnesses is so heartrending that many lay readers will likely be brought to the edge of tears when he records how both the patients and he were upset by his leaving the Institute when he finished his time there. Dr. Sheff is also only too willing to recognize his own limitations. The poignant statement with which he closes the above chapter shows only too clearly his personal regrets: "In spite of my intentions otherwise, I never returned to the Institute."

Dr. Sheff clearly takes into account that not all his readers are in the medical field, as he clarifies and contextualizes all terms that he uses that might be foreign to the average lay reader. His explanations are never condescending, though--he approaches readers with a spirit of bonhomie, very much conveying the impression that you are on his level.

Fascinating as his tales of medical practice may be, it is in Dr. Sheff's deeply personal and insightful approach to the more human and humane aspects of such practice that he excels. Small wonder, then, that he can round off the memoir by sharing how, when branching out on his own as a family physician, his patients "uniformly exclaimed they thought physicians like that were a thing of the past," resulting in him being able to fill his practice within the space of a year.

Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil should make ideal reading for any with an interest in medical training, as well as for the friends and family of physicians. A copy should be kept in the office of all career counselors as well, and made available on loan to any would-be medical student. Dr. Sheff's sense of humor and relaxed, yet highly competent, style of writing should appeal to readers of all ages. No matter what medical advances have been made since Dr. Sheff's days as a medical student, the ethics and principles of such practice remain the same. Not for nothing does Dr. Sheff preface his memoir with Hippocrates' centuries old dictum, that is as valid today as it was in the days of Greek antiquity: "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity." [Reviewer for BookPleasures.com]
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Look Behind the Scenes of the Medical Profession, May 11, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
In "Dr. Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil" Richard Sheff M.D. chronicles formative experiences from his years in medical school and during his residence. The book is a result of a lesson Dr. Sheff learned early in his training. "...in the midst of all the medical technology and pressure to master so much new clinical information" it would be easy to lose tract of his original intention "of helping others, at some level as an expression of love." It is his hope that the book will provide deeper insights into the importance of the doctor/patient relationship.

The book is divided into two main parts: Part One deals with his experiences in Medical School - The University School of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Part Two relates his residency program in family medicine experience at the Brown University in Providence R. I.

An articulate communicator, Richard Sheff captures and holds the reader's attention from his first class room experience in Gross Anatomy right through each rotation of his training as a medical student, including: Psychiatry, gynecology, obstetrics, surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics, choosing a specialty, elective classes, and Sub internship.

Part Two includes the years of Sheff's residency, his internship, junior residency, and senior residency. He details many of his experiences treating patient's involving numerous illnesses relating to family practice.

I could identify with many of the issues that concerned Sheff. At nine years old I was admitted to a University Medical Training Hospital for a nervous disorder resulting from complications arising after having Scarlet Fever. For two month's I was the subject of the rounds being made by the medical students, interns, and staff doctors. On one occasion I was taken to an amphitheater where my case was presented to a classroom full of medical students. After presenting my case I was asked to demonstrate my writing skills and my ability to tie my hospital gown. To this day I remember the humiliation of hearing that at nine years old my skill level in those two details was at the level of a six year old. For the next four years I returned to the pediatric outpatient department for ongoing teaching exposure to go through blood tests, medical histories, and a routine of jumping on one foot, sticking out my tongue, and extending my hands to determine how steady I could hold them. At the time I was too young to question the treatment or the cure. I did move on to adulthood, married an RN who recognized and directed me to Doctor's known as being patient advocates. As a result of my excellent care and relatively good health, today I hold members of the medical profession in high esteem.

Sheff's writing is engaging, memorable, and candid. He delivers a strong message for everyone associated with or involved in the field of patient care. Dr. Sheff is sincere in his advocacy for healing patients and healing healthcare. He calls for love, courage, passion, and integrity from hospitals, physicians, and related medical professionals. "Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil" is a timely and important book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from a representative of the author or the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Technology, science, and a human touch, May 5, 2011
This review is from: Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil (Paperback)
My son is a newly minted doctor fast approaching the end of his internship year. I've learned that, at this stage of his life and his training, time is something owed to others, food is something snatched in rare moment when time permits it, life is what you remember living once, and sick leave is a luxury afforded only to your patients. Richard Sheff trained a generation ago and does a good job in his book, Doctor Confidential, of revealing not just the "secrets behind the veil" (as his subtitle promises) but also how the veil has shifted and moved over time. He reveals too, sadly, those things that haven't changed, the dehumanizing hours, the lure of what's possible over what's desirable, the false lenses that all of us apply when looking at human frailty and sickness. And he tells his story in a way that pulls the reader in with fascinating details, a clever mix of footnotes and fast-flowing scenes, powerful vignettes and character studies of doctors and patients alike, and a subtle honesty that acknowledges both wisdom and uncertainty.

Anyone wondering what's involved in a doctor's training, anyone addicted to doctor shows on TV, and anyone considering entering medical school, or caring for someone who's there, might benefit from reading this book. If some doctors seem quick to jump to conclusions and dismissive of a patient's concerns, there are reasons. If some seem over-eager to treat the patient as a problem quickly resolved by technology, it just might be the way we've trained them, and trained the insurance companies, and trained ourselves that's to blame. Does someone have a right to the best (and most expensive) treatment, or do others have an obligation to care about comfort and human feelings too? Is a human desire to feel cared for part of the reason for the growth in alternative medicine, and is a desire to see everything in terms of what we control part of the reason some doctors denigrate alternative approaches?

The author gives no simple answers, but leaves the reader with much to think about, and a recognition that there's more at play than just technological achievement and intelligence. The story takes readers from first year medical school and gross anatomy lab to the end of the author's family practice residency. The epilogue reveals how things turned out, and why he's written his book. And the whole is a really enthralling tale of people, life and love--together with facts that make those terms on TV, and in the doctor's office, mean much more and make more sense.

Disclosure: My other disclosure is that I received a copy of this book from the Cadence group in exchange for an honest review.
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Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil
Doctor Confidential: Secrets Behind the Veil by Richard Sheff (Paperback - May 1, 2011)
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