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What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey Paperback – July 31, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books; 1 edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570615276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570615276
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A firsthand depiction of the hardships and rewards of medical school, this sensitive memoir may serve as a guide to help readers who are considering traversing that same path. Young's schooling taught her that "everything important comes from the patient's story." She predicates her perceptive memoir on just this lesson, as she exposes the unique life of a physician-to-be and the human chronicle behind the diseases she struggles to treat. Young's narrative takes the reader through her medical school rotations, where she describes such events as the helicopter evacuation of a dying man from an Eskimo village in Aniak, Alaska; her own near-fainting during a childbirth in Spokane, Washington; and the death of a Pocatello, Idaho, baby born with a rare disease. Young dissects the histories of these patients-almost all poor and mostly from rural settings-and reveals not only their medical dilemmas, but their personal and socioeconomic ones. Despite her sometimes over-earnest tone and the use of some medical terminology, most of her reflections are poignant, such as when she describes her "resigned solitude" amidst 36-hour, sleep-deprived shifts. Still, her medical accounts are the memoir's true highlights, and her stint through AIDS-ravished Swaziland offers the most captivating and heartbreaking chapter, providing a glimpse of the state of health in that Third World African country, and its disturbing implications for humanity.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

People are drawn to the medical profession for a plethora of reasons that usually have something to do with curing the sick or making sweeping social changes that enable individuals to enjoy better health and have improved access to medical care. Young confesses that her own motivation borrowed on all these themes. As she began medical school, she envisioned herself one day working in a big city's tough inner core, a champion of medical aid to the urban poor. The University of Washington Medical School, however, held a different promise for the idealistic medical hopeful. Young became involved in the school's rural internship program, which sent her to the remotest reaches of Alaska, Wyoming, and even South Africa. She candidly shares how reality collided with naive expectations when a chronically ill patient selected job over health, when she could only watch helplessly while a man died, and when she had to conduct wartime triage in a vain attempt to stretch an insufficient supply of pharmaceuticals. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Audrey Young earned a B.A. in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.D. from the University of Washington, in Seattle. She is board certified in internal medicine and most recently was Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington. She currently practices hospital medicine at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington. Washington Travel and Life Magazine named her one of Washington's best doctors.

She is the author of What Patients Taught Me, published in 2004, and House of Hope and Fear: Life in a Big City Hospital, coming in August 2009. People Magazine called her "a fine storyteller". Her work has appeared in numerous medical journals and other publications; she also maintains a health care reform blog called Bonus Tracks and writes about her vegetable garden and kitchen adventures at Eat Local Northwest. She lives in Seattle with her husband and with two dogs.

Customer Reviews

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I could hardly put it down!
Justin Goodman
Dr. Young's book is one of the most striking and insightful accounts of physician training I have read.
Robin Houck
If you are in the medical field you need to read this book.
Dale Lash

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sam Warren on November 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A medical resident recently informed me that her medical training had `robbed' her of the best years of her life. Her comment was not too perplexing at the surface, but I can't help to contrast it with the great awareness of humanity I find in Dr. Young's book. One captivating anecdote after another, Dr. Young's writing recreates for us some of the sacred vantage points on life she has received by way of approaching her patients with real humanism. The book also stands out among other medical training biographies because Dr. Young's experiences occurred in such special rural places. I loved it! There is something in here for everyone.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robin Houck on November 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a general internist and public health physician by training and work in a busy county hospital emergency department. Dr. Young's book is one of the most striking and insightful accounts of physician training I have read. Refreshing in its originality, unique in its perspective, it delivers much more than one woman's journey - Dr. Young teaches us, patients and physicians alike, the essentials of doctoring the way no training program can. Riveting, wrenching, and warming, these are stories that resonate with each of us at some time in our lives. I must give this a whole-hearted endorsement. Kudos to Dr. Young.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By V. Adler on December 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book, primarily because it explains how one goes about becoming a doctor. She let's us in on the experience of what goes on in the mind of a medical student as well as the specifics of coursework, etc. It almost makes you think that you could do this job too. Apparently, becoming a doctor has to do not only with having the brains to learn it, but having the mindset to stick it out through a grueling training period. That was the best part of it for me. She's a good story teller. The case studies are intriguing and shocking. I would want her for my doctor.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Murray on March 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Audrey Young reminds us in this interesting and honest narrative how powerfully a good doctor yearns to help, trains for that purpose, and how hard it is not to be able to fix everything all the time. It is clear that she cares about her patients and that textbook procedures are sometimes not enough--which makes this an account of the best in medical practice. This is an encouraging book, for those who have developed medicophobia, and it's also a really good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ABB on November 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Young's book is a beautiful description of the process medical students go through to become a doctor. The stories of life and, frequently, death and dying linger and pop in to one's mind throughout the day....making you appreciate each moment. A fantastic book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on March 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
In "What Patients Taught Me," author Audrey Young, M.D. describes her path in the study of medicine. Growing up in a comfortable Seattle household, she became interested in socioeconomic justice. As an undergrad at Berkeley she "wanted to be an urban doctor for neglected populations."

She chose the University of Washington Medical School, an institution with a " ... dispersed ... program to train medical students from the Pacific Northwest to practice as rural doctors." Under this program, called WWAMI for its presence in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, Young's medical school rotations provided an unusual amount of patient contact and responsibility.

It was her choice to spend the first year in a Seattle rotation, where she had limited patient contact while taking a heavy academic load. The following summer she began her rural training in a family practice clinic in Bethel, Alaska, where huge distances and inaccessibility of care often led to delayed treatment.

Here on the tundra, as Young learned to present a case in pertinent bullet points, she began to see the context in which patients live their lives. From a healthy youngster with a cold, to a mother with a fulminating post-partum infection, to a forty-year-old mechanic with tuberculosis, each patient was so much more than symptoms and test results.

After Alaska, Young's rotations were a mix of urban and rural. Seattle for surgery and psychiatry; Spokane for obstetrics; Pocatello, Idaho for pediatrics; back to Seattle for internal medicine where she began to long for the autonomy and open spaces of more rural rotations.

At the end of her third year Young took a difficult rotation in Swaziland, in eastern Africa.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Conway Niu on October 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After reading the author's accounts of rural medicine, I've begun to strongly consider applying for a rural-based residency upon completion of medical school.

Her tone isn't as pompous as some other similar books I've read. She's very down to earth, and doesn't try to make herself sound impressive by using jargon and fancy words. I've already recommended it for friends who are looking into going into medicine. A friend gave this book to me as a gift after reading it, and I plan on doing the same!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Justin Goodman on November 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Young provides some wonderful insights into the long process that produces new physicians. She engagingly relates her experiences as she was first learning her role in the doctor-patient relationship. I could hardly put it down! A wonderful book.
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