- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (April 26, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688175899
- ISBN-13: 978-0688175894
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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White Coat: Becoming A Doctor At Harvard Medical School 1st Edition
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Books about the education of physicians are so plentiful they practically constitute their own subgenre. For starters, there's Melvin Konner's Becoming a Doctor, A Not Entirely Benign Procedure by Perri Klass, and several books by Robert Marion (including Learning to Play God, Rotations, and The Intern Blues). Joining the field is Ellen Lerner Rothman with a memoir of her years at Harvard Medical School. It's a workman-like account of learning the art and science of medicine in the era of HMOs, in which paperwork seems to have replaced healing as the main product of hospital bureaucracy. Rothman wrestles with the dilemmas of compassion and objectivity as she encounters patients, learns procedures, and prepares to don the white coat that symbolizes physician competence in a world of backless patient gowns.
Of particular interest are Rothman's accounts of the rabid fan base among medical students for a certain top-rated medical TV drama; they study its jargon almost as exhaustively as they review the physiology of the heart. "It was just like on ER," she notes following an encounter with a traumatic cardiac arrest that ended with the patient's death. The lines between pop culture and science are ever blurred. --Patrizia DiLucchio --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
When Rothman donned her fresh white coat on her first day of orientation at Harvard Medical School, she assumed a complex new identity. To patients, the white coat meant medical authority, whereas to Rothman it represented "a power that I was not ready to accept." Written with admirable candor and insight, her account of how she grew into her white coat during the four-year program will interest the mix of general and professional readers who enjoyed Perri Klass's similar memoir, Not an Entirely Benign Procedure. Rothman, who is now a resident in the combined pediatrics program at Boston Children's Hospital and Boston City Hospital, begins with first-year anxieties associated with classes and working on cadavers. She honestly confronts the competitiveness among her classmates and the difficulty of balancing a demanding schedule with personal relationships. She explores the excitement and glamour of being a doctor while acknowledging the awesome responsibility it entails: "I must be above human fallacy.... My mistakes and failures could have catastrophic consequences." She also writes with great sensitivity about the first patient she touches, the obnoxious patient she feels guilty for disliking, the pain of having to tell a man he has cancer and the stress and humiliation of being grilled by senior doctors. Anecdotes about herself and her classmates (they are addicted to the TV series E.R.) also add flavor to her account. Rothman ends her book admitting that, although she is now comfortable in her white coat, "I will never finish growing into my role as doctor and caregiver." Agent, Kip Kotzen.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I liked the way she described the obgyn experience but others was like textbook explaining the problems. First years experiences was very short, the process and procedures was not clear, I still do not get from the book when you start rotations, when you become resident, what is expected from you, what happenes if you do not perform.
There were several problems with this book. Like the other reviewers noted, Rothman's characterization of people by their appearance was distracting, bordering on offensive. It's as if she mistakes physical description for insight. Descriptions of patients' ailments and suffering that should have drawn the reader in are presented in as cold and impersonal a manner as a medical chart. Who knows, maybe that's where Rothman drew her memories of the encounters. Finally, there is the author herself. In an attempt to personalize the book, Rothman details her romance with one of her fellow classmates. Again, the details are presented in a vague and sketchy. After three or four luxury vacations, boom, they're engaged. The reader never gets a sense of what Carlos is like, or the challenges of nurturing and maintaining a relationship under demanding circumstances. As a result, Rothman's account of her relationship and subsequent engagement rings false, even though this is supposedly a nonfiction book.
I have friends in medical school, and their terse emails and brief, infrequent phone conversations give me more insight into the life of a medical student than this book did. Rothman doesn't give the reader a true sense of what a medical student's life is like. There are only biased descriptions of the patients she encountered in the different specialty rotations broken up by occasional updates of her uninteresting romance with one of her classmates.
I am writing this with two hopes. One that others may be encouraged to ignor the negative reviews and give it a try. Land secondly that Ellen Roghman see that to one reader she was unforgetable.
Her entire first year--what I would imagine would be an amazing experience of first-time medical learning and wonders-- covers less than 36 pages! This, in a book of 331 pages? Chapters are actually topics: AIDS, Difficult Patients, Pelvic Exams, etc. The problem is that the reader never quite feels that we are progressing with her from day to day, month to month, and year to year at Harvard. I never quite caught excatly when and how she was allowed to see patients. In one chapter, she was suddenly with her first patient. I want to read this book and really know what happens at the Harvard Medical School! It's her first book, and quite obviously she means well, but her book is really an amateur effort. She is probably a good doctor but her writing skills need much honing.