The following publications chronicle different life experiences of physicians training and practicing in the United States. These memoirs, some written by IMGs, provide insight into cultural adaptation, patient and peer interactions, humanism, the practice of medicine, and the many facets of daily life as a physician in training.
Collins, M.J. (2005). Hot lights, cold steel: Life, death and sleepless nights in a surgeon’s first years. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
This memoir of the author’s residency at the Mayo Clinic offers insights into peer relationships and patient empathy. Although the book is centered on the patients the author treats and the lessons he learns along the way, the seriousness is balanced with humor about his family life.
Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
This anthropological study of a Hmong refugee family’s experiences with the U.S. health care system is a brilliant illustration of the clash between two fundamentally different belief and social systems. This account provides examples of successes and failures at communicative attempts by all parties involved including the patient, doctors, and social workers. The author shows the reader the views and assumptions of both the Hmong family and the U.S. health care workers, which led to stereotyping and misunderstanding.
Jauhar, S. (2008). Intern: A doctor’s initiation. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Narrated by a cardiologist, this work outlines many of the crises faced during his residency at a New York City hospital. This perspective provides the reader with a glimpse into the humanity of medicine when the author himself becomes a patient.
Marion, R. (2001). The intern blues: The timeless classic about the making of a doctor. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
This book is comprised of diary entries from three residents. It provides a thought-provoking account of the daily life of the medical resident. Also included are narratives concerning their impressions of medical encounters, burn-out, and fatigue.
Transue, E.R. (2004). On call: A doctor’s days and nights in residency. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
An internal medicine resident’s transition from intern to physician is traced in this work through a series of patient journals. This book might prove helpful in understanding patients’ thought processes.
Verghese, A. (1995). My own country: A doctor’s story. New York, NY: Random House Books.
The story of an IMG’s journey through U.S. training and practice, Dr. Verghese writes of his experience as an infectious disease specialist in rural America just at the time that HIV-AIDS began to appear. Well-written and very readable, it is a personal story with a lot of insight into the process of entering into U.S. medicine and becoming comfortable with a very new and different culture.