Friday, October 06, 2006

A Pair of Warnings for Medical Students to Heed

  • You'll come across them. Old folks who, try as you might to explain there's nothing wrong with them, they'll continue to pop up in your clinic. We call them Gomers. It stands for, Get Out Of My Emergency Room.
    - from
    House of God, I believe. The person I know reading this book told me, "I'm not sure if I can recommend it to you." Read the online reviews at the provided link and see what I mean...it's pretty intense.
  • There are two types of patients that you can tell right away are crazy:
    First - the people who wear headphones. Old-school headphones. Usually crazy.
    Second - the people with a tooth-to-tattoo ratio of less than 1. If they have 29 tattoos and 28 teeth...crazy. If they have 3 tattoos and 2 teeth...crazy.
    - from the doc acting as a preceptor for my buddy's elective.


2 comments:

incidental findings said...

Oh no, you HAVE to read House of God. I can't think of a book that I recommend more.

But of course, I have a whole series of posts dedicated to discouraging people from medicine...

Alice said...

Oh no, you DON'T have to read House of God. It's disgusting and obscene, much more so than necessary, and there's no reason as a junior medical student to read that stuff. (I started it twice, and didn't get past the first chapter, that's how bad it is.) Your optimism (or maybe naivete) is one of your best gifts right now - don't go out of your way to lose it too soon. You'll pick up the cynicism fast enough on your own before you graduate. There are plenty of good medical memoirs - Complications by Atul Gawande, Perri Klass's books, Sid Schwab for that matter, Hot Lights Cold Steel - you don't need House of God. Also, over the last 4-5 years things have improved a lot. For better or worse, we'll have things easier than the "old-timers" did.

The surgeon who wrote "Advanced Surgical Recall" put a paragraph on the title page, roughly like this: "Don't call it scut work. It's taking care of patients, and it's essential to their care. It's a privilege to do. Don't call it scut, because that will give you a bad attitude towards taking care of patients." So what if all the residents do think patients are their enemies - let's try to hold off from that as long as we can.

Let us know whether you decide to read it. :)