The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death

Algonquin Books
1
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True stories of transitioning from medical school classrooms to the realities of the hospital: “Moving, eloquent, and often unforgettable” (Atul Gawande, MD).
 
After years of practice, doctors can sometimes seem aloof, uncaring, and hurried. What goes on in their minds? Were they always like that, or has their work changed them? And how do some physicians manage to retain their warmth and humanity over the course of a long career?
 
This “thoughtful and illuminating” book takes us into the day-to-day lives of third-year medical students at an Ivy League school—just starting out in their profession and dealing with patients face-to-face for the first time (Publishers Weekly). In their own words, more than forty of them reveal what it’s really like to enter this field, having their principles of scientific rigor and idealism tested as they cope with real people and real crises in real time.
 
This doctor’s-eye view of the dramas—and occasional comedies—of the world of health care offers fascinating insights about clinical medicine and a behind-the-scenes look at a job that can range from repetitive routines to life-and-death decisions at any given moment. These stories “offer a unique vantage on illness, life, and struggle—capturing in vivid glimpses that crucial moment in a doctor’s life when one transitions from outsider to insider” (Atul Gawande, MD, New York Times–bestselling author of Being Mortal).
 
“Thoughtful and illuminating.” —Publishers Weekly
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About the author

GORDON HARPER, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist, is the director of the Patient-Doctor curricula at Harvard Medical School and the recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence from the Child Psychiatry Fellows at Children’s Hospital of Boston.

SACHIN H. JAIN is a third-year medical student at Harvard. He is a tutor in medicine and public policy and has been awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and the Galbraith Fellowship.

SUSAN PORIES, M.D., a breast cancer surgeon and a surgical educator and investigator, has been named one of America’s top surgeons and is a scholar in the Academy at Harvard Medical School.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Algonquin Books
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Published on
Oct 11, 2012
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Pages
236
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ISBN
9781616202279
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Medical
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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This remarkable book synthesizes a lifetime of in-depth research into one of America’s most storied disasters, the defeat of Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, as well as the complete annihilation of that part of the cavalry led by Custer himself.

The author, Gordon Harper, spent countless hours on the battlefield itself as well as researching every iota of evidence of the fight from both sides, white and Indian. He was thus able to recreate every step of the battle as authoritatively as anyone could, dispelling myths and falsehoods along the way. Harper himself passed away in 2009, leaving behind nearly two million words of original research and writing. In this book his work has been condensed for the general public to observe his key findings and the crux of his narrative on the exact course of the battle.

One of his first observations is that the fight took place along the Little Horn River—its junction with the Big Horn was several miles away so that the term for the battle, “Little Big Horn” has always been a misnomer. He precisely traces the mysterious activities of Benteen’s battalion on that fateful day, and why it could never come to Custer’s reinforcement. He describes Reno’s desperate fight in unprecedented depth, as well as how that unnerved officer benefited from the unexpected heroism of many of his men.

Indian accounts, ever-present throughout this book, come to the fore especially during Custer’s part of the fight, because no white soldier survived it. However, analysis of the forensic evidence—tracking cartridges, bullets, etc., discovered on the battlefield—plus the locations of bodies assist in drawing an accurate scenario of how the final scene unfolded. It may indeed be clearer now than it was to the doomed 7th Cavalrymen at the time, who through the dust and smoke and Indians seeming to rise by hundreds from the ground, only gradually realized the extent of the disaster.

Of additional interest is the narrative of the battlefield after the fight, when successive burial teams had to be dispatched for the gruesome task, because prior ones invariably did a poor job. Though author Gordon Harper is no longer with us, his daughter Tori Harper, along with author/historians Gordon Richard and Monte Akers, have done yeoman’s work in preserving his valuable research for the public.
When Michael Collins decides to become a surgeon, he is totally unprepared for the chaotic life of a resident at a major hospital. A natural overachiever, Collins' success, in college and medical school led to a surgical residency at one of the most respected medical centers in the world, the famed Mayo Clinic. But compared to his fellow residents Collins feels inadequate and unprepared. All too soon, the euphoria of beginning his career as an orthopedic resident gives way to the feeling he is a counterfeit, an imposter who has infiltrated a society of brilliant surgeons.

This story of Collins' four-year surgical residency traces his rise from an eager but clueless first-year resident to accomplished Chief Resident in his final year. With unparalleled humor, he recounts the disparity between people's perceptions of a doctor's glamorous life and the real thing: a succession of run down cars that are towed to the junk yard, long weekends moonlighting at rural hospitals, a family that grows larger every year, and a laughable income.

Collins' good nature helps him over some of the rough spots but cannot spare him the harsh reality of a doctor's life. Every day he is confronted with decisions that will change people's lives-or end them-forever. A young boy's leg is mangled by a tractor: risk the boy's life to save his leg, or amputate immediately? A woman diagnosed with bone cancer injures her hip: go through a painful hip operation even though she has only months to live? Like a jolt to the system, he is faced with the reality of suffering and death as he struggles to reconcile his idealism and aspiration to heal with the recognition of his own limitations and imperfections.

Unflinching and deeply engaging, Hot Lights, Cold Steel is a humane and passionate reminder that doctors are people too. This is a gripping memoir, at times devastating, others triumphant, but always compulsively readable.

This remarkable book synthesizes a lifetime of in-depth research into one of America’s most storied disasters, the defeat of Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, as well as the complete annihilation of that part of the cavalry led by Custer himself.

The author, Gordon Harper, spent countless hours on the battlefield itself as well as researching every iota of evidence of the fight from both sides, white and Indian. He was thus able to recreate every step of the battle as authoritatively as anyone could, dispelling myths and falsehoods along the way. Harper himself passed away in 2009, leaving behind nearly two million words of original research and writing. In this book his work has been condensed for the general public to observe his key findings and the crux of his narrative on the exact course of the battle.

One of his first observations is that the fight took place along the Little Horn River—its junction with the Big Horn was several miles away so that the term for the battle, “Little Big Horn” has always been a misnomer. He precisely traces the mysterious activities of Benteen’s battalion on that fateful day, and why it could never come to Custer’s reinforcement. He describes Reno’s desperate fight in unprecedented depth, as well as how that unnerved officer benefited from the unexpected heroism of many of his men.

Indian accounts, ever-present throughout this book, come to the fore especially during Custer’s part of the fight, because no white soldier survived it. However, analysis of the forensic evidence—tracking cartridges, bullets, etc., discovered on the battlefield—plus the locations of bodies assist in drawing an accurate scenario of how the final scene unfolded. It may indeed be clearer now than it was to the doomed 7th Cavalrymen at the time, who through the dust and smoke and Indians seeming to rise by hundreds from the ground, only gradually realized the extent of the disaster.

Of additional interest is the narrative of the battlefield after the fight, when successive burial teams had to be dispatched for the gruesome task, because prior ones invariably did a poor job. Though author Gordon Harper is no longer with us, his daughter Tori Harper, along with author/historians Gordon Richard and Monte Akers, have done yeoman’s work in preserving his valuable research for the public.
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