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On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312324834
ISBN-10: 0312324839
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During her three years as a resident in internal medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Transue wrote about her patients as a way to guard against burnout and share her experiences with friends and family. This moving collection of her stories conveys vividly, sometimes painfully, the atmosphere of overwork, exhaustion and insecurity in which a resident works; the long shifts and sleepless nights, the moments when she cannot contain her tears, the times when she is haunted by fears that she has made the wrong decision. But she never loses sympathy for her patients—the heart attack victim who regrets not remembering his near-death experience, the old woman who has a pet name for her walker, the psychotic who imagines he is in constant pain and just wants her to hold his hand, even the grumpy man with emphysema who smokes two packs a day and complains about the treatment he has to receive as a result, and the habitual drunks lined up every night on stretchers in a back hallway. It's reassuring to read that a doctor isn't afraid to express compassion for her patients and that she is eager to listen and learn as they talk about their hopes and fears. There are many touching moments here, especially when she's reminded by a patient who is dying that it's important to look out the window and enjoy the view on a sunny day. Her descriptions of medical procedures can be graphic, but she presents an intriguing picture of a side of medicine many people never see.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

How does one progress from humble med student to self-assured physician? It isn't easy, and while Hollywood may be able to spin humor from the idea of medical residency, the reality is drastically different. As internist Transue learned on her very first day, despite a doctor's best efforts, people die. Being expected to simply hold the hand of someone saying a final good-bye to a son or mother can be traumatic for a recent graduate hell-bent on saving lives. Likewise, keeping a straight face while viewing a hilarious tattoo can present its own challenge. Transue found a way to put her residency experiences into perspective while protecting her sanity: she kept a journal. She jotted down thoughts, impressions, and entire conversations to help make sense of a stressful, often chaotic job. The result is something to share: an often heartbreaking, sometimes humorous account of a student wending her way through a labyrinth of medical hurdles to become a caring, compassionate healer. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312324839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312324834
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Emily Transue's book touched a nerve for me. Also an internal medicine resident, I feel that she has written a book that honestly portrays the experiences that residents go through daily. Many of us don't have the time or emotional energy to digest all the profoundly moving experiences that come our way everyday on the hospital wards, and it is easy to feel alone in our experiences. The culture of medicine demands a strong front before colleagues and patients alike, and the innate need to make sense of what's occuring inside of you gets neglected.

This book sat on my dresser for months before I decided to pick it up. I didn't think that I needed to read about what I saw daily; in fact, I was avoiding it. To its credit, I couldn't put the book down. True, it was everything that I was used to, but seeing it from someone else's eyes was refreshing. I also recommend Danielle Ofri's Singular Intimacies for those interested in knowing what a young doctor's life is really about.
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Format: Hardcover
I've always been fascinated by careers and career choices, so I read about occupations from veterinary medicine to military service. Women write many of these books because, for a long time, the novelty of being female in those occupations would get the book published.

We've seen many books by women doctors, including Perri Klass, Frances Conley and Elizabeth Morgan. So what's remarkable in this book is the complete absence of any references to gender and gender issues. One older woman says she'd rather have a woman doctor and the author says sure, she would too. Big deal. Transue writes about "the neurology resident" and then uses "he" or "she" with no comment. Both male and female attendings -- senior physicians -- can be heroic or deficient.

Almost as surprising, Transue portrays herself as polite and caring. I must admit I've stayed far from doctors and hospitals throughout my life, but the few I've met were nothing like Transue. She actually apologizes for bothering people. In fact, I suspect she set a world record for a doctor saying, "I'm sorry."

Most doctors I've met were arrogant, even rude, but Transue doesn't report a single instance of arrogance. An attending is "distant" and another unsure of herself. But when a patient's relative demands to speak to an attending, and orders Transue to make the call, she complies.

On Call deserves five stars because it's well written, almost a page-turner. Transue manages to make a collection of essays hold our interest, even when we rarely learn the ending. For instance, we learn that a man has been estranged from his family, but never why.

Most chapters are based on actual patient encounters. Transue helps us understand what's going on but doesn't get bogged down in the (literally) gory details.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
ok, i admit it - i went to med school with Dr. Transue so I am biased - I like her personally. But while that may bias my opinion of the book, it also lets me assess the book from a first hand perspective. Her writing really "captures the moment". It is so accurate that I kept waiting for the part where she mentioned my name or had me walking through the door. Never happened, but regardless - the stories she told were very realistic, and the emotions she conveyed were the same types of feelings that most of us experienced as we went through our medical training. great job emily - waiting for the sequel!

signed - one of your gross anatomy partners
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a Registered Nurse myself and also being married to a physician, I'm very aware of all the hospital stories that occur during training. In fact, I dated many medical students when I was young and working at a teaching hospital. I also now live in Seattle. So this book was a "given" that I would read it.

I thoroughly enjoyed every story she told. She struggled with being "human" rather than tough and non-feeling as many doctors appeared to be. And that was an endearing part of her story. Doctors are human and have feelings. And Dr. Transue learned in her training that being tough isn't necessary and that it's ok to become involved in patient care and really "care".

I worked L&D most of my clinical career in San Diego. A real tough OB doctor worked with me for years----he could be very matter of fact and hard core with his patients. One day I realized that a patient of mine in the triage room was carrying a stillborn. He was the doc on call. I was concerned that he would be too tough and not soft enough for this patient. But when he pulled the curtains and cried as he told her the baby had died, I realized that he is a caring man and had compassion for his patients---just tried too hard not to show it. I gained a new respect for him and doctors.

This is an excellent book about the training for doctors. I highly recommend it for all those newly graduated from medical school. It just might help them with that "human factor".
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Format: Hardcover
I read the book in one sitting -- it was that easy to become absorbed in the stories. Dr. Transue writes extremely well, both in describing the medical details (some gory, some extremely technical, but without being condescending or gross for the sake of grossness), and in capturing the emotions she felt and those she perceived in her patients.

I hate tear-jerkers -- those maudlin stories where you know the writer is just going for effect. I cried reading parts of this book, but it is in no way a tear-jerker. I felt like I was a silent observer of the real dramas of medicine, guided by a narrator I could trust: one who saw clearly and honestly, and whose reactions and thoughts make me feel more hopeful about the promises of modern medicine.

Dr. Transue's patients are lucky to have her care.
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