A medical student at Lincoln Hospital in the south Bronx is called to the Emergency Room, where a gang war is going on. She plunges through fighting bodies in the waiting room to reach the treatment area, where she is enlisted to ride an ambulance with a critically injured and intubated patient. During the trip, the ambulance jerks, the tube comes out, and the student tries but fails to ventilate him with mouth-to-mouth respiration. At the other hospital, she is turned away from the cafeteria because her clothes are blood-soaked. The patient dies. Although she feels terrible, her friend Marie, a practical nurse, comforts her with a touch of ordinary love, a photo of her new grandchild.


A medical student encounters a world she can neither heal nor control, despite her best intentions. Her lack of skill with the "Ambu[lance] bag" is a metaphor for her inability to reach across the chasm that separates her from the irretrievably damaged patient, as well as from the people of the South Bronx.

Primary Source

The Good Doctor


Univ. of Iowa Press

Place Published

Iowa City, Iowa



Page Count