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Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients [Kindle Edition]

Danielle Ofri
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From a doctor Oliver Sacks has called a “born storyteller,” a riveting account of practicing medicine at a fast-paced urban hospital
For two decades, Dr. Danielle Ofri has cared for patients at Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the country and a crossroads for the world’s cultures. In Medicine in Translation she introduces us, in vivid, moving portraits, to her patients, who have braved language barriers, religious and racial divides, and the emotional and practical difficulties of exile in order to access quality health care. Living and dying in the foreign country we call home, they have much to teach us about the American way, in sickness and in health.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician.”—Oliver Sacks, MD, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
“A gifted storyteller, Ofri provides vivid details that bring readers right into the exam room with her . . . describing how her patients’ histories stirred her to practice medicine more compassionately, inspired her with their hope and fortitude.”─Sarah Halzack, Washington Post
“Danielle Ofri’s new work presents the reader with artfully controlled chaos. . . . Brisk, fast-paced, and organized with an eye both to variety and recurrence.”─Rachel Hadas, Times Literary Supplement
“Her writing tumbles forth with color and emotion. She demonstrates an ear for dialogue, a humility about the limits of her medical training, and an extraordinary capacity to be touched by human suffering.”—Jan Gardner, Boston Globe

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Danielle Ofri is an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital and the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her previous books are Singular Intimacies (Beacon / 7251-6 / $18.00 pb) and Incidental Findings(Beacon / 7267-7 / $15.00 pb). Ofri writes frequently for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,, and other publications. 

Product Details

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy book January 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
From the moment you pick up the book Medicine in Translation, you are drawn into Dr. Ofri's world of medicine, home life and music. These three are the pillars of this book, a sensitive and sometimes heart -rendering portrayal of one very busy doctor's work with patient's many of whom have traveled a long distance between their homeland where torture has maimed their bodies . Along with others who have left a country for more benign reasons, these people arrive at Bellevue Hospital needing medical attention and come under the care of an especially caring, doctor who attempts to provide state of the art medical attention to those who are often undocumented aliens lacking health insurance, money and even a basic language in which to discuss the medical problem. None of this comes easy, not to the beleaguered people who need the help, nor to the doctor who wishes to bestow the treatment learned in medical school but who is often stymied by governmental regulations that govern the dispensation of needed help. A young woman, a mother trying to bring her child over to this country is weakened by a faulty heart that a transplant would certainly remedy and is prevented from applying for it because she is without the proper papers. Imagine trying to work out treatment plans as the two - patient and doctor sitting in one room connected by a telephone and an invisible translator, an unsung hero at Bellevue Hospital who listens to both doctor and patient translating symptoms and intended high-tech medical regime.

Dr. Ofri mulls over the difficult situations she encounters at work often mixing her thoughts with pieces from her own life.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
As an attending physician at New York's Bellevue Hospital, Danielle Ofri has used
her superb writing talent to offer the reader a compelling, compassionate and sometimes humorous story of how she and her patients struggle with their medical
problems and the difficulty both have in coming to terms with the cultural and language differences of a largely immigrant, poor, population. Never judgmental or
condescending, Dr. Ofri gives us a window into how one doctor comes to terms with
her own emotions in treating such a complex patient population. I found it to be a real page turner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, another! December 30, 2009
I have been waiting in anticipation for another anthology of stories from Danielle Ofri, and she has delivered! This collection of stories is written in her trademark beautiful prose, but the content is much more substantial and relevant to today's discussions about medical delivery, especially to the poor and uninsured. Dr. Ofri continues to approach difficult subjects with the grace and insight that I would expect from a practitioner finishing her career. Thankfully for us, Dr. Ofri has many more years of medicine to practice and many more books to write (hint, hint)... Thank you for writing, Danielle.

This review is written by James Feinstein MD, the author of Short White Coat: Lessons from Patients on Becoming a Doctor.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Danielle Ofri is a triple threat - practicing physician, renowned author, and editor of the Bellevue Literary review. With her earlier collections she has taken her place in the growing pantheon of physicians who write - but rest assured her stories engage readers on a deeply human level; no medical education required. Ofri's world requires much of her; it takes empathy, insight, respect and patience to care for the poor and disenfranchised.

As an attending physician at the nation's oldest urban hospital, Bellevue, Ofri is ideally placed to observe the human condition up close and personal. In `Medicine In Translation' Ofri continues to write of her professional growth. Along the way, she and her family - husband, two children, big dog - decide to take a sabbatical in Costa Rica where Ofri will become more fluent in Spanish, in order to better understand the needs of many of those who come under her care. After all the arrangements are made for this journey, Ofri discovers she is pregnant. Where others would have changed their plans, Ofri goes ahead and has her child in Costa Rica.

Her experiences provide the juxtaposition that differentiates `Medicine In Translation' from her other essay collections. Working on the floor at Bellevue feels like rapid travel between foreign countries. Ofri's patients share our struggles, but do so from the foreign lands of illness, language and poverty. Becoming a patient - pregnant and a mother - on foreign soil, goes a long way to increase understanding between cultures.

Ofri poignantly and honestly describes her experiences at Bellevue: "I took a moment to contemplate the capacity of American society to set aside superficial appearances and consider the person beneath the face. I was not optimistic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond a Patient Profile June 15, 2010
The threads of Danielle Ofri's memoir, Medicine in Translation, come together in a fascinating tapestry, with shimmers of what it is to be a physician, a mother, a writer and musician, a person with opinions trying to open herself to a world full of differences. She writes well, and the stories she weaves here are by turns painful, funny, searching, and full of thoughtful interest in the human condition.

Ofri has been a doctor for twenty years at Bellevue in New York City, the oldest public hospital in the U.S. Through her eyes, we glimpse the stream of people coming through its clinic. She reveals enough of herself, as well, to give us insight into the daily and strenuous life of a doctor there, especially one who is genuinely engaged with both her patients and her family.

Bellevue serves a broad population. Ofri's practice is inclusive, from torture survivor to illegal immigrant, Bangladeshi teenager to elderly Chinese couple. With current debate over immigration and health-care reform, there is much here to provoke thought and discussion. Yet the book is most keenly focused on how Ofri's awareness expands as she goes the extra mile to know these individuals. She describes her efforts to learn Spanish, her encounters with hospital translators and mountains of paperwork, and the moments when she slows down and sees beyond a patient profiile to the person. These are stories to wake us up to the diversity of human experience in our own country, and Ofri models an open-hearted and wise response. Often she struggles to go beyond a thoughtless first reaction and reaches greater acceptance of her patients and herself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
A lively set of sketches of Ofri's patients.
Published 5 days ago by Priscilla A. Meyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
Great book! Well written. Fascinating accounts.
Published 2 months ago by G. Galanti
3.0 out of 5 stars so-so.. I am an MD and I have ...
so-so..I am an MD and I have been practicing for 26 years....I disagree with many of the things she wrote about. Read more
Published 2 months ago by blue blueone
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Yuck. And not just because I had to read it for school.
Published 4 months ago by philip parda
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not about the doctor
Accurate description of what physicians experience caring for their patients. Most of us just want to serve and make things better for our patients. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Moynard
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is ok. This doctor is fascinated with ...
The book is ok. This doctor is fascinated with herself.
Published 7 months ago by HerrPaap
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Ofri is a gifted storyteller!
Dr. Ofri is gifted storyteller! Do not pick up this book to "read just a chapter or two" if the tasks and responsibilities you will end up disregarding for the next four hours are... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Robert Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars A Illuminating Book Shimmering With Beauty, Honesty, Humor, and...
This book is beautiful, haunting and incredibly well written. The scenarios and personalities jump off the page to walk around the reader’s living room, and then settle down in the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Batya Swift Yasgur MA, MSW
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone in the medical profession, or for anyone who...
Danielle Ofri's books are a gift. A talented storyteller, Dr. Ofri immediately pulls you into her intriguing world of frequently oppressively busy days as she manages the life of... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Helane Fronek
5.0 out of 5 stars journeys
Denielle Ofri is the most warm and caring physician imaginable.
The stories are touching and interesting...
If only all doctors were like Ofri!
Published 17 months ago by Carolfriedlander
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More About the Author

Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD is the author of the critically acclaimed "What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine" (Beacon Press, 2013). She is an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine and has cared for patients at Bellevue Hospital for over two decades. Her other books are Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue, Incidental Findings: Lessons from my Patients in the Art of Medicine, and her latest book, Medicine in Translation: Journeys With My Patients. Ofri is a regular contributor to the New York Times' Well blog as well as the New York Times' "Science Times" section. She is the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review.

Danielle lives in New York City with three endogenously caffeinated kids, an aging lab-mutt, and the forever challenges of the cello.

Visit her website at

Find her author fan page on Facebook at

Photo Credits: Joon Park and John Abbot

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