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Intern: A Doctor's Initiation Hardcover – December 26, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sandeep Jauhar, MD, PhD, is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He writes regularly for The New York Times and The New England Journal of Medicine. He lives with his wife and their son in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly

Jauhar, a cardiologist who directs the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, completed his internship a decade ago, but still remembers his confusing, tumultuous medical apprenticeship at the prestigious New York Hospital the way soldiers remember war. The son of an embittered immigrant plant geneticist who found the American university tenure system racist, Jauhar dithered over career choices and completed a doctorate in physics before embarking on medicine. Jauhar feels responsible when he botches the blood pressure check on a patient who later dies during an aortic dissection and when he misses the high blood sodium level of a man who then suffers irreversible brain damage. He wonders if he and his colleagues have discriminated against a cardiac patient because of his weight, and helps an advanced cancer patient's wife decide against the futile insertion of a breathing tube. As his internship progresses, he romances his future wife (an affair he describes with the passion of one buying a used car); cracks under self-doubt and the expectations of his traditional Indian family, and suffers a serious depression. He regrets that as a doctor he is sometimes impatient, emotionless and paternalistic. Although Jauhar carefully elucidates complex medical terminology for lay readers, his thoughtful, valuable memoir will be most relevant to medical students and interns experiencing similar crises. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374146594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374146597
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a physician, I don't have much time to read a book for leisure, but I couldn't put this book down.
You don't have to be in the medical profession, or have gone through internship to appreciate this book, but it definitely brought back memories from my own training. I wish I had kept a journal during my internship and residency.
Will this book be our generation's version of House Of God?- I'm not sure, but one thing is for sure, it is a great read, well written, and a lot better than the sweater I got for christmas!
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Format: Paperback
Multiple reasons led to my desire to read this book. I have been reading Dr Jauhar's articles in the NYT for the past decade. My father and Jauhar's in-laws, the Sharmas, were physician colleagues at the same local NJ community hospitals. I interacted with them at one point and I even met Dr Jauhar briefly at his in-laws house in 2002. Jauhar also is part of what I label as a new American breed - "the South Asian American physician elite". They are educated at the best undergraduate schools, go to top medical schools, train at premier residencies and fellowships and marry someone just like themselves. No surprises here.

I feel my review adds a very different perspective than the ones written here over the past 3 years. Like Jauhar and his wife, I am the offspring of the first wave of South Asian immigrants who came to the US in the 1960s and 1970s. Many, if not most, South Asian immigrant parents not only put a premium on education and money making careers, but pressure their kids to go into medicine. There is a South Asian fixation, bordering on pathological, to become a doctor and to marry one. I have never seen this in any other community. This is the environment that Jauhar and I grew up in.

I believe a significant part of Jauhar's early conflict, ambivalence, insecurity, and doubt about becoming a physician comes from the cultural baggage South Asian American kids carry. We are driven to succeed at any cost, constantly compared to a more accomplished sibling, relative, or friend (in this case his brother Rajiv), and made to feel ashamed if we are not. Nothing is good enough. I think many South Asian American physicians have dealt with some of the same struggles and experiences Jauhar have, but became doctors anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
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"This book is about my residency [apprenticeship in medicine] at a prominent teaching hospital in New York City. The story goes up to the point when I decided to pursue a fellowship in cardiology, my specialty, and thus covers the most formative years of my education as a doctor.

For me it was a disillusioning time: I spent much of it in a state of crisis and doubt. I had trained as a physicist [the author has a Ph.D. in physics] before entering medical school, and ten years of uncertainty about my choice of profession came out all at once...

Because I had lived another, more sedate, professional life [as a physicist], the one I had to endure in the hospital was even more difficult to bear...For much of internship [the first year of residency], I felt buried--in a waking Hell under the weight of my own (and others') expectations...

I am [now] finished with my apprenticeship, and...now work as a cardiologist...For the most part, I am happy...But so much about medicine still troubles me...sometimes I'm still not sure cardiology was the right choice..."

The above is found in the introduction to this well-written book or memoir by Sandeep Jauhar, M.D., Ph.D. who now is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He also writes regularly for "The New York Times" (which got him into trouble during his residency).

If you're expecting to find phrases in this memoir such as "Medicine is the greatest profession", etc., you won't find them and are advised to look elsewhere. This is because this book is brutally honest. Jauhar tells it like it is and I got the sense he was not attempting to sugar-coat any of his narrative.
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Format: Hardcover
Books that chronicle first-person accounts of the medical training gauntlet could fill a large gurney. How many more memoirs of sleep-deprived bewilderment are we to take? What new or novel insights could a doctor provide? Sandeep Jauhar offers his tome to the groaning collection in INTERN: A Doctor's Initiation.

And an initiation it is, bordering on a medical version of hazing. Jauhar writes with uncommon skill, precision and sensitivity, disclosing himself behind the white lab coat in confessing his uncertainties, sibling rivalry with his older brother, the weight of parental expectations and the tsunami of information doctors are expected to learn. During the journey, Jauhar becomes afflicted with disc problems and gets a firsthand taste of the joys of being a patient.

Seeing the "initiation" through Jauhar's eyes forces one to wonder, "Is this really any way to train physicians?" The process seems designed to grind them down to the point where patients are obstacles to "get through," in order to get to sleep or on to the next step. Medicine becomes a matter of checking off the boxes and covering your ass in case you are sued for medical malpractice. The process almost seems designed to callous doctors and inure them to empathic impulses. The book also suggests what a sham the so-called "informed consent" process has become, perfunctory paperwork completed to CYA instead of a clear communication of risks and complications.

INTERN is like a car wreck - you don't want to look but you cannot help yourself stare. Dr. Jauhar emerges with seemingly most of his compassion intact. One wonders if he is more the exception than the rule. A good, albeit unsettling, view of medical training!
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