I found this book to definitely answer more than my far share of questions concerning medical school and what it is like to enter anatomy lab for the first time or conducting your first medical history/physical exam while a medical student. Dr. Sheff brings a lot of clarity to becoming a doctor by recounting his experiences and shedding new light on what it means to hold the responsibility of being a doctor.
Walk in the shoes of Richard Sheff as he advances from novice medical school student to a seasoned family medicine physician and witness the good, the bad, and the ugly of medicine.
This is not merely a story about a struggle to become a competent physician who is able to cure his patients, but more importantly how does a doctor also care for his patients. Dr. Sheff struggles with the two competing forces of providing all necessary means to save an elderly woman who is going to die or to counsel the patient's family that they should only use basic care to ensure she dies comfortably and with dignity.
As a future doctor or simply curious about medicine I strongly encourage you to read this book that definitely will keep you on your toes. I was not able to put it down myself because I wanted to know what happened with each patient, the outcome of a surgical procedure, how will Dr. Sheff respond to a number of crises.
You will learn real medicine in this book from applying basic science to clinical cases, to having a moral argument with yourself on the direction of health care in American society to finding the unspoken truths about what doctors must contend with on a daily basis.
Dr. Sheff also questions how doctors are trained to merely be technically competent physicians who lack compassion, understanding, empathy, and seeing the big picture in medicine. He writes,
Students are selected for medical school training because of their capacity to achieve in the face of obstacles, to set aside personal needs when a job must be done, to act with clear logic by suppressing emotions...Nowhere in today's physician training are we taught that to be able to truly heal another one must have loved and lost love, that this is what truly opens our hearts most deeply.