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The only knock on HOG is that it's now a bit outdated.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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  • 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
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