Saturday, June 18, 2011

This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies)

If Atul Gawande were funny--or Jerome Groopman were a working mother--they might sound something like Michelle Au, M.D., author of this hilarious and poignant memoir of a medical residency.

When Michelle Au started medical school, she was "approximately as ready to become a doctor as a Tamagotchi owner is ready to raise a human baby." This is the story of how she grew up and became a real doctor.

Throughout her years as a resident, she also attempts to maintain some semblance of a life outside the hospital. During her second year of residency, and already used to being up all night, she and her resident husband decide to have a baby. Baby Cal's arrival is joyous, but results in an ongoing struggle for Michelle to balance her medical life with her "real" one.

This book is a story about the imperfect, and occasionally hilarious, process of medical training. It is an insider's view of overnights in the hospital, where the unimaginable becomes possible (Can I use this bedpan as microwave receptacle for my dinner? Is it OK if I take this comatose patient's cup of Jell-O?) and the commonplace becomes bizarre.

Michelle also writes about the specific challenges of being a working mother while completing a medical residency, trying to cultivate an outside life within an institution that expects you not to have one. With honesty and the ability to find humor in almost any situation, Michelle recalls the stories, big and small, that continue to shape her into the kind of doctor, and mother, that she wants to be.

My Thoughts: This was an enjoyable easy read about the life of a female med student then resident and how she juggled the job demands while also being a wife and mother. Michelle makes her life seem relatively simple and with few snafus because of her positive outlook but it's still apparent that there were great difficulties such as when she had to fire her nanny while being unable to miss a single day of residency. While I don't understand what would compel someone to choose this lifestyle, I'm sure there are many that wonder about our family choice to live 20 years as an active duty Army family.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

1 comment:

Connie Walsh Brown said...

My daughter lives this life with family and medical residency. Don't ask me why. Ask her. Busy. Busy.

Thanks for reviewing this. I sent her a link.