Customer Reviews for

The House of God: The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

This is a classic tale from the 1970's by Dr. Samuel Shem (pen n

This is a classic tale from the 1970's by Dr. Samuel Shem (pen name). It's considered a Must Read for anyone considering medical school and being a doctor. As a physician myself, I often recommend this book to my pre med and medical students. It still resonates today,...
This is a classic tale from the 1970's by Dr. Samuel Shem (pen name). It's considered a Must Read for anyone considering medical school and being a doctor. As a physician myself, I often recommend this book to my pre med and medical students. It still resonates today, after introducing such controversial terms as "Gomer," short for Get Out of My Emergency Room. It's a fun, but dark read that depicts the hospital as a partial sexual madhouse. Overall I don't think real life is quite as dramatic as the fiction presented by Dr. Shem here, but it's still an absolute must read for anyone interested in being a doctor.
The only knock on HOG is that it's now a bit outdated. Because of this, I also recommend my students read two more recent books, "In Stitches" by Dr. Anthony Youn and "Monday Mornings" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Both are famous TV doctors, but Dr. Youn's book is a memoir while Dr. Gupta's book is fiction. "In Stitches" is funny and covers one doctor's harrowing four years in medical school. I loved this one. "Monday Mornings" is more serious, and covers attending doctors and M&M conferences. Both are new must-reads for pre meds and med students alike, in my opinion.

posted by 7970514 on March 24, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

I pity Dr. Shem, and hope that his experiences after his residency were better. Perhaps he was not made to be a physician at all.

"Yes, partly," I said. " I lived through this nightmare because you were with me." (Dr. Roy G. Basch - protagonist)
"Yes, partly. And you're right: this internship has been like the stuff of dreams, like the overpowering nightmares of childhood: aggression, fear, of...
"Yes, partly," I said. " I lived through this nightmare because you were with me." (Dr. Roy G. Basch - protagonist)
"Yes, partly. And you're right: this internship has been like the stuff of dreams, like the overpowering nightmares of childhood: aggression, fear, of retaliation, and then the resolution, where you don't win, you (just) live." (Berry, his girlfriend and a clinical psychologist)

House of God, Dell publishing, May 1988 edition page 376.

I first read Samuel Shem. MD's classic in 1979, before i started my internship. I thought it was hilariously funny. The thirteen laws of the House of God, the Gomers, (patients in almost vegetative states, respond better to treatment if you do nothing for them because they never die) TURFING (transferring your patients to another service), BUFFING (documenting procedures on Gomer's charts so the attending physician would think you are treating them, when in fact you are doing nothing), LOL in NAD (Little old ladies in no acute distress--like Gomers don't treat).

Now, twenty-seven years later, after a Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and many years of private practice I find it insulting to the medical profession.

Yes, I was scared, yes, I was abused, yes, I made mistakes, and yes, I was ostracized. But Cook County made me a first rate Obstetrician-Gynecologist. And what Dr. Shem seems to forget that Residency is the easy part. Private practice is what's difficult. True, the pay gets better but the responsibility does too. When you are in a residency program there is always someone you can call to help you solve a problem. But when you go out into the Private world: the buck stops on you, and you only. The hours don't get much better; and these days doctors are not respected like in the old days.

Between patients questioning your judgment, to unscrupulous lawyers: selling their souls for an easy buck--the malpractice suit--it gets worst.

But i would not trade any pf my residency days, nor any of my private practice days for anything. I am a very lucky man to have practiced an art that is slowly dying. I LOVED every patient, every call--the adrenaline rush exists to this day. I would not had wanted it any other way!

I pity Dr. Shem, and hope that his experiences after his residency were better. Perhaps he was not made to be a physician at all.

posted by carlosmock on March 13, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a classic tale from the 1970's by Dr. Samuel Shem (pen n

    This is a classic tale from the 1970's by Dr. Samuel Shem (pen name). It's considered a Must Read for anyone considering medical school and being a doctor. As a physician myself, I often recommend this book to my pre med and medical students. It still resonates today, after introducing such controversial terms as "Gomer," short for Get Out of My Emergency Room. It's a fun, but dark read that depicts the hospital as a partial sexual madhouse. Overall I don't think real life is quite as dramatic as the fiction presented by Dr. Shem here, but it's still an absolute must read for anyone interested in being a doctor.
    The only knock on HOG is that it's now a bit outdated. Because of this, I also recommend my students read two more recent books, "In Stitches" by Dr. Anthony Youn and "Monday Mornings" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Both are famous TV doctors, but Dr. Youn's book is a memoir while Dr. Gupta's book is fiction. "In Stitches" is funny and covers one doctor's harrowing four years in medical school. I loved this one. "Monday Mornings" is more serious, and covers attending doctors and M&M conferences. Both are new must-reads for pre meds and med students alike, in my opinion.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2012

    Absolute Must read

    OMG....this is my second purchase of this classic. I am so impressed with it from the perspective of practicing emergency physician who has literally seen it all in the past 41 years. It has prompted me to write my own memoirs.....still in process. The Jazz Doctor

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2009

    This book was amazing! I couldn't stop reading and laughing...

    As a young PACU nurse, heading off to finish my pre-med work and hopefully become a physician, I read this book after hearing one of our sugeons say "Don't they make anyone read "House of God" any more?" I really enjoyed the hilarious and on-point humor. Unlike a fellow reader I enjoyed the sexuality, which sorry but it has to be admitted, has played a roll in the medical profession since long before Greys Anatomy! I think anyone who works in or wants to work in medicine could benifit from reading this classic novel.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I pity Dr. Shem, and hope that his experiences after his residency were better. Perhaps he was not made to be a physician at all.

    "Yes, partly," I said. " I lived through this nightmare because you were with me." (Dr. Roy G. Basch - protagonist)
    "Yes, partly. And you're right: this internship has been like the stuff of dreams, like the overpowering nightmares of childhood: aggression, fear, of retaliation, and then the resolution, where you don't win, you (just) live." (Berry, his girlfriend and a clinical psychologist)

    House of God, Dell publishing, May 1988 edition page 376.

    I first read Samuel Shem. MD's classic in 1979, before i started my internship. I thought it was hilariously funny. The thirteen laws of the House of God, the Gomers, (patients in almost vegetative states, respond better to treatment if you do nothing for them because they never die) TURFING (transferring your patients to another service), BUFFING (documenting procedures on Gomer's charts so the attending physician would think you are treating them, when in fact you are doing nothing), LOL in NAD (Little old ladies in no acute distress--like Gomers don't treat).

    Now, twenty-seven years later, after a Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and many years of private practice I find it insulting to the medical profession.

    Yes, I was scared, yes, I was abused, yes, I made mistakes, and yes, I was ostracized. But Cook County made me a first rate Obstetrician-Gynecologist. And what Dr. Shem seems to forget that Residency is the easy part. Private practice is what's difficult. True, the pay gets better but the responsibility does too. When you are in a residency program there is always someone you can call to help you solve a problem. But when you go out into the Private world: the buck stops on you, and you only. The hours don't get much better; and these days doctors are not respected like in the old days.

    Between patients questioning your judgment, to unscrupulous lawyers: selling their souls for an easy buck--the malpractice suit--it gets worst.

    But i would not trade any pf my residency days, nor any of my private practice days for anything. I am a very lucky man to have practiced an art that is slowly dying. I LOVED every patient, every call--the adrenaline rush exists to this day. I would not had wanted it any other way!

    I pity Dr. Shem, and hope that his experiences after his residency were better. Perhaps he was not made to be a physician at all.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    It is a classic

    I am an emergency nurse for over 20 years. I am now buying this book for my daughter who will be attending medical school. This book will never go out of date!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    Awesome book, have ready it several times and it is never boring. After working in the medical profession, the book is "RIGHT ON"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Great book

    A grrat look at the workings of medicine. Scarey.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    A classic for all medical interns

    I dont know how I would have practiced these last fifteen years without reading Shem...I certainly would have been the poorer for terminology. A must read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    I must in the Emergency Medical line of work

    I came about reading this book when several of the senior RN's and Medics where laughing to the point of tears and refurning to this book. Thay gave me some small trails of the book and I had to get the book that day. It starts out low and then your OMG what do they have me reading. But, please read the whole book. Its great and gives you a new look at some of the not so good parts of the job. Just helps to get me through the day at time. You to could be laughing at the point of tears with your peers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hilarious

    This book is one of the best books for any medical school student, resident or anyone who wants a laugh.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2007

    True but difficult to read...

    I am currently a medicine intern and while most of what is written still exists (except for amount of hours worked), I had trouble reading it simply from the standpoint of how the book was written and the excessively graphic sexual encounters described multiple times throughout the novel. I do think that premed students should read this book so they are aware of what they are getting themselves into before applying to medical school. I think I would have thought twice about going to medical school had I known what it was really like.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2005

    A must read for anyone in the medical profession

    This book describes my life as a nurse, with the exception of the sex!!! The 'rules' are hilarious, but sometimes frighteningly accurate!!! Without a doubt, the first thing to do in a code blue, is take your own pulse!!! This book has kept me sane through over 20 years of nursing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2004

    If you work or plan to work the 'house,' it's a must read!!

    I read this long ago. It's still true today. Gomers keep coming and the Q sign is never a good thing. Very funny. . .and true. Honest.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2003

    Where fiction meets reality

    Most lay people will read this and think that this couldn't possible be true and that this is fiction 'way up there'. In reality, the truth is just below the surface of the book...there was not a great deal of 'poetic license' taken. The book will have you laughing 'til your sides ache on one page and crying tears on the next. Very enjoyable and will give insight into the trials of the intern.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2001

    Cynicism with Some Truth

    I think one of the purposes of this novel is to satisfy our fantasies of what we would like to say or do to our fellow staff and superiors. Anyone arrogantly expelling such condescension to residents or attendings would surely be disciplined or fired, whether that seems morally appropriate or not. That said, I did learn more about my experiences as an intern with the help of both Basch and Berrys' realizations. Fortunately, today, some of us have more sophisticated internships and residency programs that run Balint group discussions. Here, young doctors gather to blow off steam, console, brainstorm, and unite with each other concerning patient and staff encounters. I think all the characters would have fared better with this implementation. All in all, take this book with a grain a salt but enjoy the relief it may bring you in identifying with some of the absurdities and struggles of being in the health-care profession.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2001

    A must read for all medical and nursing students

    I read this book while in nursing school. After reading this incredible book, it gave me the understanding of some the things I had heard around the hospital during clinical rotations. This is a MUST READ book for ALL medical and nursing students. I gives you a unique view of medicine and nursing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2001

    Gomers do go to ground!

    Having 27 years of experience in both acute and long term nursing care, I found the book to be a laugh-out-loud parody of the aging process. It has helped me through some of the hardest times in nursing care through Shem's clever combination of truth and absurd exageration regarding the aging process and the medical community's outlook on it. I have purchased this book for quite a number of doctors and nurses I've worked with, and it always brightens their day.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2001

    A 'must read' for all healthcare professionals!

    My husband and I are both RN's with 30 years of combined experience in ICU and ER nursing. The House of God should be required reading in all nursing schools, medical schools, and for all EMT or EMT-P courses!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2001

    An MD classic

    I read this book first while in college as a premedical student. It (sort of) scared me out of medicine. Today in medical school I'm finding that the practice of medicine isn't as grim and simple as Dr. Shem writes, but is not as complicated as some young, aspiring MDs believe it to be. The House of God will put you in the shoes of an intern who, like you, hopes to learn all the intracacies of medical practice to 'help patients' before killing them. What he, like you, will fail to realize is that the only way to learn medicine is through experience and that no amount of book reading or studying can prepare you for the hell that is medicine. I'm still learning.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2000

    Easy with the praise!

    Being in medical school myself and having heard nothing but the best about the novel (or semi-fiction, whatever you choose to believe), I was nevertheless a bit disappointed; the beginning chapters are stuffed with great satire, much to my taste, but then give way to rather lengthy expositions on things of little substance.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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