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Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients Hardcover – January 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807073202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807073209
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. 

Customer Reviews

Dr. Danielle Ofri, The Doctor with a heart.
Rita A. Rousseau
I don't know of higher praise to give a book.... it's definitely worth reading.
N. Reno-Welt
A wonderful and sensitive book that I enjoyed' reading.
Martine Tulet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Muffyboy on 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 By Jean E. Canavan on January 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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 By James A. Feinstein on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Evelyn Sharenov on February 18, 2010
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 By Story Circle Book Reviews on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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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