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Between Expectations: Lessons from a Pediatric Residency Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
It's a given that doctors-in-training will suffer through sleep deprivation and stress, but pediatrician Weir brings something more heartfelt—and joyful—to this achingly personal chronicle of her residency at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center. Weir's grim introduction to Connor, a fragile preemie, forces her to wonder whether "the ends will justif even the most agonizing means." There is her anger at baby Myranda's drug-addicted mother, her panic over blue-baby Briony, her struggles to tell 19-year-old Harry's father that his son has a brain tumor, and her realization that when you don't know what to do, you should know whom to call. The most memorable parts of Weir's grueling training are the complicated kids and families, the hope she inspires in them—and the hope they give her in turn. Yet, she shows, doctors working with very sick children must know when they're offering families too much hope, or not enough, and that there's a cost to everything they do. Here's a white coat insider's account with better writing and more soul than most medical dramas. (Mar.)
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Among the lessons Weir recounts in this somewhat uneven memoir of her residency at Boston Children�s Hospital is the fact that sometimes parents of seriously ill children are more resilient than one might expect and that, as a physician, one can only do what one can do. When she needed to take a break early in her internship due to job-related stress, Weir fretted over the decision but took it nonetheless. Upon her return, she realized it was the best thing she could do, both for herself and for the children in her care. Additionally, a brief stint at a disastrously underequipped and understaffed hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, revealed that medical priorities must be adapted to the reality of one�s situation. Finally, by following her early patients and their families over the span of her residency, she discovered that sometimes the advice she might have given parents as a new intern was best left unsaid. Aside from its unusual pediatric perspective, Weir�s medical residency memoir is a consistently modest addition to the physician-in-training genre. --Donna Chavez
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Top Customer Reviews
Her writing has some insightful moments for sure. She bears witness to the painful suffering of children and their families that goes on in our hospitals all over the country. She gives voice to the trainee who too often just plugs away at the machine that is medical training without the space for self-reflection that she fought for in her own training program. But she did fight for this opportunity to write about her training, and I wonder, by the end of the book, what she accomplished beyond catharsis by writing this collection of stories. Many times by the end of a chapter I found myself wishing that I were able to ask her "OK, THEN what?" Not about what happened to the patient, or what she did next, necessarily, but who cares? Why did you write this? What did this change about who you decided to be as a pediatrician? How did this experience affect what you decided to do with your next patient? Or did it?
But while I find myself wanting more, my medical memoir fix has definitely been met by this book. It's very readable; the framing of the collection with her first patient in the NICU and the "NICU grad" at the end adds a nice structure; and maybe that's enough. Maybe it's enough to just bear witness to a child's story, a family's loss, a moment that passed by at 3 AM on a hospital ward where there was only a bleary-eyed intern (or senior resident) to notice. Or maybe if Weir pushes herself a little more she might find something more overaching to say about medical training, pediatrics, parenting, childhood, and loss.