Friday, January 25, 2008

"Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation"

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.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation, and reported the following:
On pg 69 of my book, Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation, I’'m sitting in a conference room in the intensive care unit among a large group of interns and residents, being grilled by a senior physician on the proper way to read chest X-rays. In medical school I’'d been taught a systematic way of reading them, but I'’ve forgotten it. The senior physician, obviously frustrated by the gaps in my knowledge, has just taken my finger and placed it on one of the serpentine shadows running across the screen of a digital workstation, demanding to know what I think it is. “An acorn was pressing into the center of my brain,” I write. “My throat was tight and my mind had ground to a halt. If not for my seat back, I felt that I would fall backward.”

Another doctor soon pulls up the next film, and someone else takes the hot seat. In the dark room, my face burns with embarrassment. I can'’t recall ever feeling so publicly humiliated, and on my first day in the ICU, too.

My older brother Rajiv, a cardiology fellow at the hospital, stops by the conference room later that morning. He asks me how rounds went. I tell him about the X-ray debacle. “Don’'t take things so seriously,” he says. “That'’s why it’s a three-year program.”

This page actually conveys a lot of the essence of my book, which describes the grueling, humiliating ordeal that is a medical internship. Internship is the most confusing, tumultuous year in a doctor’'s life, and I've tried to convey a sense of it through a history of my own apprenticeship at a prominent teaching hospital in New York City. The book is also about what it'’s like growing up an ambivalent youth unsure about what he wants to do with his life, in an intensely competitive, immigrant Indian family.
Read an excerpt from Intern and learn more about the author and his work at Sandeep Jauhar's website and blog.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue