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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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"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Insightful, easy to pick up and entertaining. You do feel closer to what doctors go through, with many of these interactions and stories being page-turners.Published 19 days ago by shapley
I'm an R.N., and have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Au for the last 5+ years. When I heard that her book came out, I bought a Kindle version immediately. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Katherine Grace
a great narrative about what it means to balance life as a doctor, as a wife, and as a mother.Published 6 months ago by Markia
I checked this book out from the library a couple of years back. Those who are medical students or just interested in medicine should read this. Read morePublished 8 months ago by val321
adorable and fun. if my medical school classmate hadn't borrowed/not returned it i'd probably have read this 4 times by now. Read morePublished 10 months ago by sb_med_student
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as a pre-medical student myself. Gave clear insights as to what to expect for the next several years! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Brian
If you want to hear what medical training is really like, read this book. If you're already in medicine, be prepared to read this in one sitting because you won't be able to put... Read morePublished 20 months ago by E. N. Lumpkin
I purchased this book before my intern year, and was grateful for the insights it offered me as I began my journey through residency. Read morePublished 22 months ago by LolaMom