Friday, May 9, 2008

The House of God

The book, The House of God, is one that many medical students, residents, healthcare professionals, and people all over the world have noted as being a standout read regarding the trials of internship. Sure it's dated - since it was first published when I was born - but it's still considered a benchmark against which many medical writers are compared and is often listed as a "must read" for medical students and wannabes.

But I don't see it.

I've been trying to get through this book the last couple days and have just tossed it aside more often than I'd have thought. I find it infantile, neurotic, sloppily constructed with poor transitions, and just not a book that I must finish.

Perhaps I want to understand more what's going on than having a skim-job whereupon the author enters into emotional turmoils over the latest "insult" yet will go into florrid detail about their sexual achievements. I know intern year sucks, but some more information related to the actual crushing process might have been nice rather than learning how nuns teach nurses to deal with erections. Instead I feel that the reader is merely shown a glimpse and then ferried away hurriedly - as though it's more than we could handle.

And another item: was there really that much sex going on in hospitals back then? I can begin to comprehend where some of these TV shows developed the lustful nurse-doctor relationships after reading pages upon pages of bawdy behavior and descriptions. It seems like a pubescent fantasy rather than a beacon of light into the process of medical training.

I don't know if I can finish reading this book. I'm halfway through, but it just grates the nerves to continue. I should be reviewing other items anyway - like movies that I've not seen in a while...and perhaps a medical chapter here and there.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I read it last summer, and it didn't make any sense at all. The prologue or epilogue says that as we progress along our medical training, we will understand more and more of the book... so perhaps at my pre-med stage I just don't see why it's so great.

MSG said...

I'm at the stage where the book begins and I don't get it much either. I think too many people have been duped into believing this is a pinnacle book in medical training (perhaps it was when it came out 30 years ago) but it pales to many other books today.

#1 Dinosaur said...

The whole thing is predicated on the nonexistence of DNR status, yielding all kinds of impossible situations. All that's really worthwhile are the Laws of the House of God. Just skim through the book to where each Law is introduced (so you get the context) and you'll know all you need to know. ie, You'll recognize when someone's quoting them to you.

No, it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it's sort of medical pop culture; nice to know about, but don't bother reading too much into it. None of the rest of us do.

tracy said...

i loved "House of God"...but see, here's the catch...i'm not one of you all, and that's probably why. (much as i wish i were...sigh) Of course, it is, for the very most part total satire, isn't it? (well, okay, s o m e of it is...) Ha, ha, the main reason i read it is because a physican told me not to...i loved the ending. i thought the sequel, "Mount Misery" was even better, because of my interest in psychiatry. Of course, there are many other books by physicans out there that i have read, that take on a much more "real, non-sarcastic" tone, but for a "fun" read, well.....

just a lay person, tracy

tracy said...

"Gomers never die, they just go down"

"On the way to a code, check your own pulse"

e said...

i hated that book. i was like.. umm great, so basically i can count on my husband cheating on me for the next 20 yrs. My fav doctor book is that Atul Gawande book "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science." It's easy to read too because each chapter is sort of a seperate story.

MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

I've ordered that one - just haven't received it yet. Hoping it's better than his 'Better' book - didn't like that one too much.

Dragonfly said...

I read THOG in 1st year because it is so widely quoted. Most of the book is rubbish, just those GOMER quotes get put in every MedSkool yearbook and medlet Facebook group ever published.
Checking your own pulse first is a very good rule though.

tracy said...

i l o v e Dr. Gawande...he's my "book crush"...oh, yeah, his writing is excellent too.