Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work

Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work

by Suzanne Koven
Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work

Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work

by Suzanne Koven


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"A warm and wry epistle, the endless and near-perfect email you wish your mother, your mentor and your therapist would sit down and type out together." —Laura Kolbe, Wall Street Journal

In 2017, Dr. Suzanne Koven published an essay describing the challenges faced by female physicians, including her own personal struggle with "imposter syndrome"—a long-held secret belief that she was not smart enough or good enough to be a “real” doctor. Accessed by thousands of readers around the world, Koven’s “Letter to a Young Female Physician” has evolved into a deeply felt reflection on her career in medicine.

Koven tells candid and illuminating stories about her pregnancy during a grueling residency in the AIDS era; the illnesses of her child and aging parents during which her roles as a doctor, mother, and daughter converged, and sometimes collided; the sexism, pay inequity, and harassment that women in medicine encounter; and the twilight of her career during the COVID-19 pandemic. As she traces the arc of her life, Koven finds inspiration in literature and faces the near-universal challenges of burnout, body image, and balancing work with marriage and parenthood.

Shining with warmth, clarity, and wisdom, Letter to a Young Female Physician reveals a woman forging her authentic identity in a modern landscape that is as overwhelming and confusing as it is exhilarating in its possibilities. Koven offers an indelible account, by turns humorous and profound, from a doctor, mother, wife, daughter, teacher, and writer who sheds light on our desire to find meaning, and on a way to be our own imperfect selves in the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324021902
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 134,847
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Koven is a primary care physician and the inaugural writer-in-residence at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her writing has appeared in the New England Journal of MedicineBoston Globe, and other publications. A faculty member at Harvard Medical School, she lives near Boston.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction: Letter to a Young Female Physician 1

1 Risk Factors 7

2 Prerequisites 17

3 Admissions 22

4 Clinical Skills 28

5 Mnemonics 33

6 We Have a Body 37

7 Things Shameful to Be Spoken About 59

8 Lineage 65

9 The Last Three Pounds 84

10 Mom at Bedside, Appears Calm 112

11 Curbsiding 117

12 An Inherited Condition 138

13 The Disease of the Little Paper 164

14 The Noncompliant Patient, Reconsidered 171

15 The Hateful Patient, Revisited 176

16 The Doctor's New Dilemma 180

17 Off the Charts 185

18 Head and Shoulder 196

19 Sequelae 201

20 Science and Kindness 212

21 Bury Me in Something Warm 226

22 Extension 238

23 Mixed Emotions 262

24 They Call Us and We Go 272

Epilogue: Women in STEM 278

Acknowledgments 285

Notes on Sources 289

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