Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue

Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue

by Danielle Ofri
     
 

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Singular Intimacies is the story of becoming a doctor by immersion at New York's Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country. When Danielle Ofri first enters the doors as a medical student, she is immediately plunged into the teeming world of urban medicine. It is here that Dr. Ofri develops a profound instinct for healing and, above all,See more details below

Overview

Singular Intimacies is the story of becoming a doctor by immersion at New York's Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country. When Danielle Ofri first enters the doors as a medical student, she is immediately plunged into the teeming world of urban medicine. It is here that Dr. Ofri develops a profound instinct for healing and, above all, learns to navigate the tangled vulnerabilities of doctor and patient.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
These essays, some previously published, about the author's 10 years as a medical student, intern and resident at the oldest public hospital in the U.S. resonate with insight, intelligence, humor and an extraordinary sensitivity to both the patients she treated in this inner-city facility and the staff she worked with. The cofounder and editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, the Bellevue Review, Ofri is now an attending physician at Bellevue and brings to this memoir a combination of medical information and some very expressive writing. The author acknowledges that when she arrived to work on the wards, she had no idea what her responsibilities were or how to perform typical student tasks like drawing blood. Along with the technical skills she absorbed working overtime in a stressful atmosphere, Ofri also learned to truly care for her cases. In "Finding the Person," she describes, for example, why she continued to speak to and maintain a bedside manner with a comatose woman in front of the dying woman's family. "Intensive Care" recounts the story of Dr. Sitkin, a difficult supervisor who both alienated and won the respect of his medical team, and eventually took his own life. The tragic loss of her close friend Josh, a 27-year-old, who died from a congenital heart condition ("The Burden of Knowledge"), caused her to doubt the foundation of medical training, that knowledge is power. The pieces in this powerful collection are tied together by the struggle of a clearly gifted physician to master the complexities of healing. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As Ofri relates in this marvelous book, becoming a doctor is a complex process. The author, who trained at New York City's famed inner-city, 250-year-old Bellevue Hospital and cofounded the Bellevue Literary Review, relates cases that revolve around gravely ill patients who die in stark and painful circumstances. Her gifted storytelling discloses a variety of patients, their medical needs, and the doctor-hospital-patient interface. How does "the System" make a doctor? The answer is still a big mystery (as David Duncan's Residents also makes clear). New, book-smart graduates must sometimes feel like impostors as they take up their residencies, but a few years later they discover that they have become doctors. It is this alchemy that Ofri's well-crafted prose successfully exposes. Her sometimes stressful and sad stories reveal that the connections made by a resident-physician with patients is a demanding part of medical training, a part that finally makes becoming a physician uplifting. Highly recommended for most medical collections and where patrons also enjoy works by Abraham Verghese and Atul Gawande. [A chapter was selected for The Best American Essays of 2002 and won the Missouri Review Editor's Prize for Nonfiction.-Ed.]-James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Heartwarming memoirs of a young woman’s years at a venerable New York City hospital, where she is transformed from bewildered medical student to assured physician. Ofri, an attending physician at Bellevue and editor-in-chief of the institution’s literary journal, writes movingly of the human connections between doctor and patient. Versions of most of these 15 chapters have been previously published, but here they form a cohesive narrative of a compassionate and perceptive doctor’s development. When she began her initiation on the wards as a third-year medical student, the author left the orderly routine of classroom and research laboratory (she had already earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry) for the chaos, ambiguities, and rich rewards of learning how to help living and dying men and women in an inner-city hospital. With her first patient, the grandfatherly Zalman Wiszhinsky, she learns not only how to draw blood but the singular intimacy of sharing another human being’s life-and-death experience. A cast of vivid characters--a Rikers Island prisoner with an AA battery in his stomach, an obnoxious and abusive drug addict, a psychiatrist in fierce denial about his lethal pancreatic cancer, a middle-aged woman in a permanent coma--all play a role in Ofri’s complex emotional and intellectual growth. She shares her fears, her humiliations, her failures, her uncertainties, her growing competence, and her triumphs. What is unmistakable, however, is that long before becoming a thoroughly trained and skilled physician, Ofri was already a singularly caring woman, aware of her patients as real-live fellow human beings. Let’s hope there’s a whole library of books to come from this talentedphysician/writer.
From the Publisher
What is it like to become a doctor? Danielle Ofri answers with candor and humility and pride. This book should be required reading by anyone contemplating a life in medicine.—Richard Selzer, surgeon and author of Letters to a Young Doctor

"Any reader, physician or not, will find in Singular Intimacies the essence of becoming and being a doctor."—Robert S. Schwartz, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine

"Her vivid and moving prose enriches the mind and turn the heart. We are privileged to journey with her from her days as a student to her emergence as a physician working among those most in need."—Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think

"This is a wonderful book, a true classic medical memoir. Ofri deftly assembles tales to paint an indelible portrait of a great American hospital. I highly recommend it for physicians, would-be doctors, and anyone interested in medicine in all its behind-the-scenes glory."—Sandeep Jauhar, author of Intern: A Doctor's Initiation

"Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician, and through these fifteen brilliantly written episodes covering the years from studenthood to the end of her medical residency, we get not only a deep sense of the high drama of life and death, which must face anyone working in a great hospital, but also a feeling for the making of a physician's mind and soul."—Oliver Sacks, MD, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

"Danielle Ofri has so much to say about the remarkable intimacies between doctor and patient, about the bonds and the barriers, and above all about how doctors come to understand their powers and their limitations."—Perri Klass, MD, author of A Not Entirely Benign Procedure

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807097465
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Publication date:
04/01/2003
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
472,046
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician, and through these fifteen brilliantly written episodes, we get not only a deep sense of the high drama of life and death, but a feeling for the making of a physician’s mind and soul." —Oliver Sacks, M.D.

"These essays. . . resonate with insight, intelligence, humor and an extraordinary sensitivity to both the patients she treated in this inner-city facility and the staff she worked with. . . .Ofri brings to this memoir a combination of medical information and some very expressive writing. . . The pieces in this powerful collection are tied together by the struggle of a clearly gifted physician to master the complexities of healing." —Publishers Weekly

"Ofri is a gifted writer. Her vignettes ring with truth, and for any physician or patient who knows the dramas of a big-city hospital they will evoke tears, laughter, and memories. Indeed, any reader, physician or not, will find in Singular Intimacies the essence of becoming and being a doctor." —Robert S. Schwartz, New England Journal of Medicine

"...[Ofri's] writing tumbles forth with color and emotion. She demonstrates an ear for dialogue, humility about the limits of her medical training, and an extraordinary capacity to be touched by human suffering...Ofri's book is an important addition to the literary canon of medicine." —Jan Gardner, Boston Globe

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