ON CALL: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency

Emily Transue, Author
Emily Transue, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-32483-4
Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-32484-1
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During her three years as a resident in internal medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Transue wrote about her patients as a way to guard against burnout and share her experiences with friends and family. This moving collection of her stories conveys vividly, sometimes painfully, the atmosphere of overwork, exhaustion and insecurity in which a resident works; the long shifts and sleepless nights, the moments when she cannot contain her tears, the times when she is haunted by fears that she has made the wrong decision. But she never loses sympathy for her patients—the heart attack victim who regrets not remembering his near-death experience, the old woman who has a pet name for her walker, the psychotic who imagines he is in constant pain and just wants her to hold his hand, even the grumpy man with emphysema who smokes two packs a day and complains about the treatment he has to receive as a result, and the habitual drunks lined up every night on stretchers in a back hallway. It's reassuring to read that a doctor isn't afraid to express compassion for her patients and that she is eager to listen and learn as they talk about their hopes and fears. There are many touching moments here, especially when she's reminded by a patient who is dying that it's important to look out the window and enjoy the view on a sunny day. Her descriptions of medical procedures can be graphic, but she presents an intriguing picture of a side of medicine many people never see. (Aug.)

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