Part of a series, "Letters to a Young . . . [fill in the career]," this collection of essays by pediatrician-author Perri Klass is addressed to her son Orlando during the recent period when he was applying to medical school. The essays follow a chronological sequence, beginning with the decision to apply to medical school, the first two years of medical school, learning how to examine and talk to patients, residency training, physicians as patients, making mistakes, grappling with the most fundamental human issues in medicine, and the mingling of professional work and life.


The son to whom these letters are addressed was born when Dr. Klass was a medical student and during a time when the author wrote her first collection of essays about medical training (see annotation of A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student). More than 20 years later, Klass is now fully immersed in her medical work and aware of how she as well as medical training and medical practice have changed in the interim. This perspective and her usual reflective and witty style should make this book attractive not only to premedical and medical students, but also to those further along in their medical professional lives.

Among the most interesting aspects of this collection are the discussions of how medical education, work rules, technology, and other areas of medicine have changed in the last 25 years and the positive and negative effects of those changes. Klass balances well the pros and cons of reduced workloads, technological advances, and other changes, and she is always aware of the temptation for an older physician to think that her generation practiced medicine the way it "should be practiced." Most of all, what shines through all of these essays is the author's genuine love of a life in medicine. This is particularly important and heartening in view of current trends to think of medical practice as just another "job."


There are selected references at the end of the book.


Perseus: Basic Books

Place Published

New York



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