Seeing Patients

Seeing Patients

by Augustus A. White III, M.D., Augustus A White, David Chanoff
     
 

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This book uses the story of one of the authors, Gus White, as a way to talk about unconscious biases and their consequences to the medical profession and beyond. White is an orthopedic surgeon, who grew up in Tennessee under Jim Crow, went to Brown, and was the only black student at Stanford Medical School. He was the first black chief resident at Yale, the only…  See more details below

Overview

This book uses the story of one of the authors, Gus White, as a way to talk about unconscious biases and their consequences to the medical profession and beyond. White is an orthopedic surgeon, who grew up in Tennessee under Jim Crow, went to Brown, and was the only black student at Stanford Medical School. He was the first black chief resident at Yale, the only black surgeon in Vietnam, and was the first black chief of service in a Harvard teaching hospital. His life spans an enormous change in American race relations, and he has many eye opening stories to tell. His description of his early years in an extremely segregated and racist society now reads like something from another world. White and Chanoff want to use the autobiographical approach of this book to show how great the disparities still are, and make the case for “culturally competent” medical training, in a way that is more vivid and memorable than a research review or policy paper. The book looks at White’s life, but always with an eye to what moved him to the idea of equality in medicine and problems of disparities in medicine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When White attended Stanford in the late ‘50s he was one of four students of color. A recommendation letter written by a mentor then included "this is a pale, colored boy" to avoid misunderstanding. Now White recounts his ground-breaking life in an engaging, matter-of-fact manner. Eight of the 12 chapters tell his amazing story, from his birth in 1936 in a segregated Memphis (his trailblazing father, a doctor, died when White was only eight), to a 1967 tour of Vietnam wherein White worked in a leprosarium, to a fellowship at a biomechanics lab in Sweden, to his appointment to head a new orthopedic academic program at Harvard. A chance encounter with a woman who felt doctors judged her by her full-body tattoo led White to consider disparities in health care. Challenges exist on both sides of the stethoscope, White argues, noting that the uncertainty felt by many African-American patients over how they will be perceived also impacts the medical encounter; the burden for alleviating racial and other disparities (such as those based in age, gender, and sexual orientation) falls on the medical and educational communities. Accessible, thought-provoking, and valuable. 17 halftones. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In this autobiography, White, Harvard's first African American department chief, writing with Chanoff (coauthor, with Vic Damone, Singing Was the Easy Part), chronicles his experiences growing up in Tennessee and his professional journey through medical school. Along the way, readers are shown how racism has impacted and still affects African Americans and others in the medical profession and in the medical system in general. Despite the title, this book is primarily an autobiography with a few chapters about medicine appended. It gives a vivid picture of the ways medical institutions sideline or devalue minority medical practitioners. The book's only drawback is that the author's tone comes across as arrogant and self-congratulatory, and readers might not be interested in the details of his professional career. VERDICT White's memoir will be of interest to readers of medical biographies and those who follow news and blogs on race and equality.—A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674058774
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
05/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,021,471
File size:
461 KB

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What People are saying about this

Alvin F. Poussaint
This is first and foremost the immensely enjoyable story of Gus White's astonishing life's journey. With all his achievements, he has not lost sight of his roots. Recruiting minorities into medicine has been one of his life's priorities, and he has been a leader in promoting cultural literacy in all physicians. Seeing Patients is both exciting and insightful.
Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School
Charles J. Ogletree
Gus White has written a tour de force--a compelling story about race, health and conquering inequality in medical care. Growing up in the segregated South, receiving medical training at all-white Stanford, caring for Americans and Vietnamese in Vietnam, Dr. White has a uniquely perceptive lens with which to see and understand unconscious bias in health care. He offers astute analysis and prescriptions for eliminating inequalities, and his journey is so absorbing that you will not be able to put this book down.

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., author of All Deliberate Speed

Jerome Groopman
As vital to medicine as mapping the rhythm of the heart and the firing of the nerves is an understanding of the diversity of the human family. Gus White takes us on a marvelous personal journey that illuminates what it means to care for people of all races, religions, and cultures. The story of this man becomes the aspiration of all those who seek to minister not only to the body but also to the soul.
Jerome Groopman, M.D., author of How Doctors Think
James P. Comer
Seeing Patients is a powerful and extraordinarily important book. Dr. White uses his own experience to enable us to take a close look at the sensitive issue of bias in health care, and the damage it does. He knows from the inside how good people can be negatively affected by historical and cultural forces they are not even aware of. He acknowledges the magnitude and complexity of the problem, and encourages medical schools and physicians to work together to solve it.

James P. Comer, M.D., author of Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today's Youth for Tomorrow's World

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Meet the Author

David Chanoff is a writer living in Marlborough, MA.

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