Friday, January 25, 2008

Pg. 69: Sandeep Jauhar's "Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Sandeep Jauhar's Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.

About the book, from the author's website:
Intern is Dr. Sandeep Jauhar's story of his days and nights in residency at a prominent teaching hospital in New York City, a trial that led him to question every conventional assumption about doctors and medicine — and that makes him an ideal figure to speak to our own misgivings about doctors and medicine today.

Residency — and especially its first year, called "internship" — is an apprenticeship legendary for its brutality. Working eighty or more hours per week and staying up "on call" every fourth night, most new doctors spend their first year in a state of perpetual exhaustion, shunning family, friends, food, sex, and other pleasures — and asking themselves why they ever wanted to be doctors in the first place.

Jauhar's internship was even more harrowing than most: The younger son in an intensely competitive family, he switched from physics to medicine in order to follow a more humane calling — only to find that medicine is often a "cookbook" craft with little regard for the patient. He struggled to find a place among the hospital's squadrons of cocky Type-A residents and doctors. A journalist on the side, he challenged the spirit-breaking practices of the internship in The New York Times, attracting the suspicions of the medical bureaucracy. Then, suddenly stricken, he became a patient himself — an experience that gave him rare insight into the doctor-patient relationship, enabling him to see that today's high-tech, high-pressure medicine can be a humane science after all.

Now a thriving cardiologist, Sandeep Jauhar has all the qualities you'd want in your own doctor: expertise, insight, a feel for the human factor, a sense of humor, and a keen awareness of the worries that we all have in common.

His beautifully written, deeply felt memoir explains how he and his fellow interns survived — and explains the inner workings of modern medicine as no guidebook or magazine article can.

Among the praise for Intern:

"Brutally frank... Rarely has a more conflicted or unpromising candidate entered the field of medicine, and this mismatch gives Intern its offbeat appeal. There are many accounts of American medical training, but none related by a narrator quite so wobbly, introspective, crisis prone and fumbling.... In a book filled with colorful medical anecdotes, Dr. Jauhar's own case stands out. Half the time it's not clear whether he should be treating others or others should be treating him, which does in fact happen when he develops a herniated disc midway through his training, complicated by a deep depression associated with a rolling existential crisis. The inside look at the workings of the medical internship system is fascinating, but it cannot compete with Dr. Jauhar's own psychological adventure, a quasireligious journey from agnosticism to robust faith, with occasional dips into outright atheism..."
New York Times

"In Jauhar's wise memoir of his two-year ordeal of doubt and sleep deprivation at a New York hospital, he takes readers to the heart of every young physician's hardest test: to become a doctor yet remain a human being."

"Jauhar's candid account of his stressful journey is enlightening, educational and eye-opening. After ten successful years in the profession, the author dolefully admits that he is unfazed by the 'small injustices' in hospitals today. Required reading for anyone seriously considering a career in medicine."
Kirkus Reviews

"What sets Jauhar's internship story apart from the norm is his candor."

"Honest and vivid... A well-written medical memoir."
Library Journal

"Very few books can make you laugh and cry at the same time. This is one of them. Jauhar reveals himself in this book as he takes us on a wondrous journey through one of the most difficult years of his life. It is mandatory reading for anyone who has been even the slightest bit curious about how a doctor gets trained, and for physicians it is a valuable record of our initiation."
—Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and author of Chasing Life

Read an excerpt from Intern and learn more about the author and his work at Sandeep Jauhar's website and blog.

Sandeep Jauhar, MD, PhD, is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He writes regularly for the New York Times and The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Page 69 Test: Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.

--Marshal Zeringue