Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Stitches

When I was younger, a friend's mom once asked me to recommend some books that my friend might like (since she really hated reading), and I spent hooooouuuuurs looking through my bookshelves - picking the perfect books; ranking them in not one, but two different categories (my favorites and what I thought would be my friend's favorites); and writing up descriptions on little post-it notes that I stuck on the inside cover of each book.  I was so excited to share my favorite books!  However, I'm pretty sure not a single one of those books were ever even opened by my friend, and all my fabulous reviews went to waste.

Recently Dr. Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon from Michigan, sent me a copy of In Stitches, a memoir about the path that led him to be the doctor he is today.  Consider this my post-it note.  I hope someone takes my recommendations.

the book!
First of all, the book was hilarious.  A fairly quick and easy read, it's full of enough self-deprecation not to hate the author for being so damn good at everything he does.  Being only halfway through my med school career, Dr. Youn got me equal parts terrified and excited for my clinical years and residency application process.  I can only hope to have such a meaningful experience during my rotations that leads me so clearly to a career path like Dr. Youn had.  I had never thought much about the altruistic side of plastic surgery, and this book broke down some of my stereotypes.  However, all the normal stereotypes of med school were still there - the gunners, first day of anatomy lab, the mean horrible interns and attendings who scare the crap out of med students (ok, I haven't experienced that myself yet, but I'm waiting for it), feeling useless, trying to maintain a social life while still doing well...

I had two favorite lines that I liked so much, I wish I could claim I wrote them:

the doctor!
"Second year worse.  Way worse.  I'm ambushed by the sheer volume of information we have to memorize.  At least I know what's on each exam - everything."  [Since I'm going through second year now, I can absolutely vouch for the veracity of and lack of exaggeration in that statement.]

And once he finds out he passes step 1 of the board exam, meaning he can go on to year three, the beginning of the clinical years... "And that concludes medical school, year two.  Now I can play doctor.  For real."  Because isn't that what med school really is - playing doctor until you know enough to really be a doctor?

For med students, I recommend this book so you can see that even seeming geniuses struggle at some point (many points?) during this journey.  It's not just you!  For parents or friends of med students, I recommend this book so you understand what it is that we're going through (not just the crazy workload, but also the mental stress we put on ourselves).  For anyone else, I would recommend this book for a few good laughs and a "thank God I'm not going into medicine" moment.

Find more info, excerpts from the book, other reviews, and how to buy it HERE!

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