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This Won't Hurt a Bit: (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood Hardcover – May 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (May 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446538248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446538244
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this treasure of a medical memoir, Au makes doctors seem fallible and funny. She opens her book with her attempt, as a third-year medical student, to retrieve a stool sample from a 300-plus-pound 85-year-old. After she finally gets the specimen, she accidentally leaves the card "with its hard-won brown smears" on the table next to an empty bagel tray. After some epiphanies ("I hate working in the pediatric emergency room"), she switches from pediatrics to anesthesiology. Meanwhile, her boyfriend (now husband), Joe, picks ophthalmology, seemingly a good-hours specialty, but one that actually requires being on call every night for two years. After a colleague says he is sure she'll find a "mommy job," she does land a manageable-hour position. Au seems to strike a good balance between being a good mom, wife, and doctor, and stays humble in the process. In fact, she talks frankly about the fear doctors can and should feel: "If you don't admit to being scared sometimes, you're an asshole." Get ready for a new appreciation for the training and life of doctors."—Karen Springen, Booklist

"An account of medicine, marriage and motherhood, executed with style and enough humor to offset the not-always-happy endings for patients.

Make no mistake: For all you hear about humanizing the process, giving residents more sleep time and so on, medical training has not changed much. Medicine remains a craft built on a strict hierarchy. Med school begins with two years of class work followed by two years of rotations as interns in a hospital's clinics. Then comes residency for several years to learn a specialty and maybe more time on a fellowship, until you finally graduate and can call the shots. Attending physician of anesthesiology Au, who began writing humor while an undergraduate at Wellesley, plunges in on page one describing her experience as a fledgling intern asked to reach into the rectum of an obese, demented man to get a stool sample for occult blood testing. After this episode, she backtracks to discuss the whys of choosing medicine and then proceeds chronologically. The daughter of physicians, she was accepted at Columbia's excellent College of Physicians and Surgeons. At the first student mixer, she met Joe, the man she would marry and by whom she would have her first child-just as she changed her residency training from pediatrics to anesthesiology. So add nursing a babe, finding a nanny, firing said nanny, assuming new and increasing patient responsibilities (with attendant fears and anxieties) and dealing with crisis situations, and still Au and her mate soldiered on. The books ends with the couple obtaining joint appointments in Atlanta, she with a 9-5 job as an anesthesiologist and Joe on a fellowship in ophthalmology.

An upbeat memoir by a woman still imbued with the idealism to serve, but also to be there for her husband and two sons."—Kirkus Reviews

"[Au] has a quick eye for comedy and a wry wit that must at times have helped her get through the daunting responsibilities that come with the white coat. The emotional complexity of her work gets full weight in these stories . . . An engaging writer who knows how to entertain, she is also a young mom on a learning curve, a wife who has negotiated a complicated partnership with a professional peer, and a caregiver who has learned how much of compassion depends on sustained awareness that every patient has a story in which she is offered a small supporting role, sometimes at a critical moment . . . after the eight-chapter journey through her formative years, readers will very likely find themselves amused, surprised, touched, and grateful - and wishing for more."—The International Examiner

"A refreshingly witty memoir . . . she tells her story with real wit and wisdom."—Points North magazine

"She is brilliantly funny, has enormous emotional wisdom beyond her years, and displays honesty and humility that brings the reader to the center of her journey, rather than preaching from a false ivory tower of medicine . . . should be required reading for all women interested in medicine and/or starting a family."—Mothers in Medicine

"Honest, irreverent . . .hilarious and heart-breaking . . . this memoir is not just about how [Dr. Au] navigated the medical world. It's about the life she wanted beyond the four walls of the hospital."—StudentDoc.com

"Every five minutes or so I laughed out loud . . . This was one of the funniest books I have read in a long time and it was so poignant . . . PICK THIS BOOK UP."—Heaven is a Bookstore

"Even better than your favorite episodes of ER or Grey's Anatomy, THIS WON'T HURT A BIT packs in all the elements of a truly great read---I laughed, I cried, I cringed and cheered, I learned a lot, and when I finished, I was preoccupied with a sense of awe from the experience for days. In fact, I wish I knew Michelle Au personally so I could call her and say, Tell me more."—Lisa Genova, New York Times-bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected

"A breezy, irreverent account of a doctor's education. Michelle Au's cheek makes for a witty and entertaining read."—Sandeep Jauhar, MD, author of Intern: A Doctor's Initiation

"Forget Grey's Anatomy. If you really want to know what it feels like to be a doctor--especially a new doctor--read this book. Dr. Au hits the bull's-eye."—Katrina Firlik, MD, author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside

"Here is the experience of medical school, and parenthood, rendered with candor and clarity and poignancy by one who dares tell us all how it goes as those who aim to heal others learn to contend with their own vulnerabilities, their yearning to know so much, achieve so many competencies, and all the while grow steadily to become accomplished physicians for their patients."—Robert Coles, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities, Harvard Medical School

"A fascinating account of how a smart, driven woman navigates the harrowing parallel worlds of modern medicine and family. This is an excellent book by an engaging writer and admirable doctor. It's also a delight to read."—Michael Ruhlman, author of Walk on Water and The Soul of a Chef

"Funny, accurate, and entertaining. Like "Kitchen Confidential" for hospitals, only less debauchery and more diapers."—Julie Holland, MD, author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER

"As anyone who reads her blog knows, Michelle Au is a gifted writer. This Won't Hurt a Bit is an honest account of how Dr. Au balances physician training with the demands of family life. Her witty observations of our health care system are interspersed with stories that can either break your heart or make you laugh. They are always poignant, and give both physicians and patients a fresh, insightful look at how medicine is practiced today."—Kevin Pho, MD, creator of KevinMD.com

About the Author

Michelle Au graduated from Wellesley College in 1999, received her M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2003, and completed her residency in anesthesiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. She is married to Dr. Joseph Walrath, has two sons, and lives in Atlanta, where she is an anesthesiologist in a private practice.

More About the Author

Michelle Au graduated from Wellesley College in 1999, received her M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2003, and completed her residency in anesthesiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. She is married to Dr. Joseph Walrath, has two sons, and lives in Atlanta, where she is an anesthesiologist in a private practice. Visit her book site and her blog via http://www.michelleau.com.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 37 customer reviews
Au is a great writer with clever diction.
Lisa
A very quick read, Michelle Au draws you in for an amazing 300+ pages.
Ally
I will be recommending this book to all of my med school friends.
Lily

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Immigrant on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a huge Michelle Au blog fan, have been reading her since she was in medical school, so I couldn't wait to grab her book.

The good: this is a very clear layout of medical training. Excellent for families of medical students who can't quite understand, no matter how many times it is explained, what exactly a resident is.

Also, Au is quite brave in talking about the truth of doctor motivation - that we are not machines, we also have other concerns in life, and that medicine is not everything. This is such a taboo statement in medicine - she is amazing for admitting this in print, going against the grain of a brutal medical culture.

The bad: Where are Michelle's cartoons? Part of how she got famous was by drawing very funny cartoons about the medical education experience. The publisher didn't even use them as chapter headings? Really?

This plays over into a deeper problem, which looks to me like over-editing in an attempt to make a clear, linear, coherent narrative. In this editing, a lot of Michelle got edited out. Her blog is so great because of the eclecticism of topics, her wry and biting humor, and her snippets of life/dialogue (with patients, bosses, her husband, her kids). None of that was present in the book. That doesn't make a it bad book, just a very different book than her usual writing. Her more spontaneous writing is much more lively, quirky, and fun. This book is rather expository. It's an excellent explanation of the doctor training process, but Michelle's voice is somewhat lost, and that's the best thing about her. Where'd she go?
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All throughout med school, I thought that Shem's "House of God" was the definitive heads-up on intern year -- this when things get *real*, I thought -- I'm going to be respected and courted by medical staff, ground into dust by a brutal workload, and be resurrected into a stone-cold baller after watching a mime show. However, as PGY1 year plodded along, I noticed a growing disconnect between Shem's world and mine -- many of his anecdotes seemed gleaned from a older parallel universe, and certainly didn't apply to the life of a modern-era intern. This is, of course, where Au's excellent book comes in.

If you want to know what it's like to be an intern now, look no further than "This Won't Hurt a Bit". Au's story about overreactions to a possible large-volume blood transfusion in a peds patient? Been there (though in my case it was ?toridol in a pt w/ low GFR). Au's remarks about pager hatred and becoming sub-empathetic during ED rotations? Also been there. And eating a raw Hot Pocket due to time constraints? Also been there. Dr. Au clearly has been in the trenches, and writes a account that is more true to life than any other 'intern-year' book I've read. It also has a quite feel-good vibe to it, which conveys a point that most similar books miss -- intern year / residency is *not* designed to break a new physician -- and that a person can emerge almost wholly intact at the end of the road.

As it stands, Au's book should be required reading for all folks either planning, starting, or pursuing a career in medicine. It is beautifully written, and is a welcome break from Robbins, Harrison, Barash, or what have you. The one things missed were the scutmonkey comics (which I loved back in the day), and of course, the promise of a sequel (or a prequel!). Nevertheless, this book comes very highly recommended -- instead of 'House of God', this is the new gold standard on the rigors of intern year.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lily on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only recently started following Michelle's blog and pre-ordered the book on a whim, but I'm so glad I did. I will be recommending this book to all of my med school friends. Her writing is clever and intelligent and I couldn't stop reading this account of her journey to being a doctor and a mother. As a first year medical student, I've worried about exactly the same issues that she went through. The relentless candor of this book combined with her witty patient stories makes for an entertaining read in which, for the first time, I truly felt that I understood what it's like to be a resident. Her account is inspiring, and brightens the light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who place highest priority on both our family and our work.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S from the 'burgh on May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been reading Dr. Au's blog for about a year and have always found that the humor and personal-professional balance she has struck has been very encouraging. The book fills in some personal-life narrative gaps that her blog doesn't cover (like, how did she meet Joe?), and has more patient stories. It is also a bit more serious at times, addressing truthfully how hard it can be to have an infant during residency, and how incompetent the medical training process can make you feel. I've read a number of medical narrative/biographies and among them, this one does a great job of conveying solidarity to anyone in the field striving to have a personal life outside of the "doctor" label, while also being candid about "what it's like" to people outside of the fold.

Highly recommended.
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