Sunday, January 4, 2009

A New Literary Genre?

I love anecdotal books on "how I became a doctor," "The House of God" being a particular favorite (lots of dark humor.) When Richie kept hammering me to "Make a Christmas list!" I finally cracked and screamed, "Books! I want books!"

At Borders, I asked the Information Lady where they might be located and I was fumbling to describe them. She smiled, nodded and said, "Medical narrative - follow me." In no particular order ...

"Kill as Few Patients as Possible" by Oscar London, MD, WBD Ten Speed Press 414.95 110 pages

"Oscar London" is not his real name; he's a retired internist in the Berkley area. Some of his witticisms, gleaned from these 57 essays:

* "Hug a patient? Hire a lawyer!"
* "If you don't believe in prescribing Xanax for your anxious patients, be sure to take one yourself."
* "A good nurse, like a good loaf of bread, is the staff of life and the crustier the better."

"On Call: a Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency" by Emily Transue, MD St. Martin's Griffin $14.95 242 pages

Transue, currently based in Seattle, is thoughtful about the responsibilities of medicine, has a good sense of humor and seems to be a practical person. There are 45 chapters of anecdotes about patients and staff as well as her thoughts on both. She opens the book by stating that students wear short jackets; interns and residents wear long coats. A quick glance reveals that person's status in the hierarchy. Getting her long white coat, she writes, made her feel (finally) that she was, in fact, a doctor.

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