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On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency
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On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,048 ratings  ·  89 reviews
On Call begins with a newly-minted doctor checking in for her first day of residency--wearing the long white coat of an MD and being called "Doctor" for the first time. Having studied at Yale and Dartmouth, Dr. Emily Transue arrives in Seattle to start her internship in Internal Medicine just after graduating from medical school. This series of loosely interconnected scene ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published August 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Terri Ann
Having worked in academic medicine for 10 years, this seems to be an accurate accounting of the life of a resident. Having worked all of that time with surgeons, it was interesting to see medicine specialists have just as much contempt for surgeons as there is vice versa. This book was especially fun to read, which I didn't realize when I purchased it, because Dr. Transue's residency was at the hospitals at which I work. I'm still trying to figure out which of my general surgeons she didn't like ...more
Imran
Honest. Dr. Transue writes with a sense of honesty not seen in many other ‘Doctor’ books. This isn’t a romanticized tale of how a doctor is made nor is it an account on the clinical thoughts of physicians, but it is an honest look at the trials and tribulations of residency: sleep deprivation, long work hours, anxiety, self doubt, etc. One point in the book Dr. Transue allows us to follow her as she grows into a physician through the stories of her patients.

As a medical student, just a few month
...more
Samantha
What got me interested in reading this book was the title, and the cover. When I looked at it, I immediately was reminded of the televisions shows "House" and "Scrubs", which are some of my favorite shows. I felt like this book was a lot like those shows, and I really enjoyed it. I loved reading about her patients, and although the author did not go very in depth with each and every patient, it worked well, because the book was about her, not her patients. What I also enjoyed about this was that ...more
Katie
I tore through this memoir of one doctor's experience going through her three years of medical residency. I thought it was really interesting, and in an interesting, anecdotal format. The author apparently took copious notes (somehow, although she says some were minimal chicken-scratches at her most fatigued) throughout her residency, and turned it into a book of stories about various patients (names changed to protect the innocent, of course). You see quite a slice of humanity here--drug addict ...more
Kim
May 18, 2011 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoirs
Quick, enjoyable read. Dr. Transue shares different stories about her years in residency. Given my experience working in a teaching hospital, I particularly enjoyed and identified with many of the stories in this book. I found it interesting to hear the honest perspective of the young resident physician. I also can identify to a small degree with the emotional exhaustion and numbness she describes at times in dealing with the tragedies that are inevitably experienced when caring for human lives. ...more
Mauri
Jun 05, 2007 Mauri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: pre-med students
Almost a relief after reading Becoming a Doctor. Transue is upbeat about her experience. She experiences thet same heartbreaks and cruel colleagues that Melvin Konner and others have, but she lets them slide off her back. She doesn't let people use her, but she views the bad in a wry way and cherishes the good.

A very heartening collection for anyone suddenly having second thoughts about med school. Obviously there are many doctors, ergo there must be a percentage that didn't want to kill thems
...more
Eva Leger
This is a very telling account of one womans journey through her medical residency. The stories of her feelings and processing of the journey is sprinkled with cases she had and it's informing. Transue writes well for not being an author in my opinion but I would have to say the the writing does have a dry quality to it.
I'm fairly interested in the subject so maybe I'd give it more of a shot than someone else. Transue seems very likable, very honest, very capable. I think, on average, that most
...more
Lindz
What I expected from this book was maybe along the lines of a "top 10 grossest medical stories" collection; something to grab eyes and get the book read. Fortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth. This heartfelt memoir follows the development of Emily Transue's medical career, from her first days as a resident doctor through building up her own medical practice. It covers times when she made mistakes and times when she succeeded, and many, many times when she could help the person's i ...more
Laura Hughes
Emotional, thoughtful short essays capturing moments in the intense internship-and-residency years of a young doctor. In particular, Transue focuses on her relationships with patients, with mortality, and with emotion itself, including struggles to maintain humanity in the face of desensitization and to maintain sanity in the face of relentless need. She is a powerful writer, and clearly a very skilled and compassionate doctor.
Jazmin
I thought this was a very nice book, but nothing too ridiculously memorable. I definitely preferred Hot Lights, Cold Steel more, and When the Air Hits Your Brain best. This was a good bronze winner though. One of the main problems that I had with this book was the continuity, yes it was chronological but I still felt like this book was very jumpy. Also while this book is certainly about Emily's life as a resident I would have appreciated more of a personal view point as well. We get a lot of inf ...more
Katie
Though the style at times made the stories seem a bit self-important, Emily Transue's stories are engaging, interesting, and emotional. Rather than portray the road to self-sufficient 'doctor-hood' as unequivocally idealistic or unequivocally stifling, Transue provides a more realistic ambivalence to the profession and its training. On the one hand, we see what many med students hope for: the stories, the wonderful people, the poignant conversations, the lasting impressions. On the other hand, w ...more
Ben Paulson
Reading other folks perspectives on being a doctor can be a bit self-fulfilling at times (makes me feel better that they go through the same things). I found this book to be refreshing in that it didn't attempt to preach great lessons from the author's experiences. It also seemed to delve deeper into the author's consciousness and she was willing to express the pure lunacy of some situations (thinking about raspberry strudle while doing chest compressions...I've totally been in those situations) ...more
Martine
I really enjoyed this book. The narrator/author, Dr. Emily Transue takes us through her internship and residency as she recounts her interesting and often moving stories of caring for patients. The most gripping parts of the book are when she is not in charge, when her inexperience as a doctor propels the reader into anxiety ridden situations with patients she often feels ill-prepared to care for. It is this humanness that makes Dr. Transue so likable. We travel with her into the depths of sleep ...more
Stephanie
Quick read, enlightening account of her time in residency. Most of her tales take place when she's an intern, with little celebration when she completes her residency. Looking forward to reading her follow up book about her practice.
Alison
Dec 28, 2008 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: medical students, patients
Recommended to Alison by: Nathan
It was Nathan's idea to give me a number of books this Christmas - both to bring me back to reading from my excessive TV watching, and to encourage me to write some of my own reflections about the things I've seen lately. This book did the trick. I was hesitant to read it because a number of books along this vein can come off as arrogant and distant. This book was different. I liked the author. She took the reader through her three years of residency, with the focus on her patients, making it mo ...more
Peggy Walker
I like to read books about medicine....sort of the busman's holiday syndrome. I actually did not care for this book as much as the other reviewers. I think I felt it was really unbalanced. She sounds like she was overwhelmed and somewhat depressed throughout much of her residency. Almost all of her stories are about patients with a bad outcome. Having worked in a major teaching hospital environment, I just don't believe that the stories were representative. She seems more disconnected than most ...more
Mark Bennett
Detailed, heartfelt and a moving collection of short narratives characterizing the life of a medical resident. Interns/residents, the three years of other-worldly work schedules, pain and suffering.

Transue's the kind of doctor you want on your team, primary care, oncology, multi-specialty, you name it. Strong, compassionate, empathetic and brilliant. She's real, and honest, and imperfect, the kind of person who inspires confidence and trust and makes you believe you'll get better.

Highly recomm
...more
Jessica
a good balance of informational and scientific and personal, hopeful and realistic.
Allison Park
On Call was Dr. Emily R. Transue's coping mechanism to help her deal with the emotional struggles of residency; starting from her first day and ending on the last. She vividly illustrates the infamous pain and exhaustion involved with residency, as well as the less obvious and publicized vices: fear and insecurity. She records her fears of making wrong decisions and lack of certainty in her actions. The amount of responsibility entrusted to residents is both sudden and alarming. I recommend this ...more
Lisa
Part of my vicarious living series. Unfortunately, maybe a little too close to home. I'm not sure it's a good idea to read about the future. Remember Oryx & Crake? if only I could have thought that book was fiction, instead of history that somehow got printed before it happened, I might have enjoyed it. Anyway. This writer comes across as an astoundingly impressive person in the face of pretty severe pressure and this book gave me a whole new set of anxieties about how intense and exhausting ...more
Rachel
This memoir was very informative. You get to see the life of doctors when they are doing their residency their triumph as well their hardships. Excellent book makes you look at doctors with more respect.
Donna
When I first starting reading this book, I was so nervous. Then as I kept going, I became excited and eager to start my own career in medicine. This book does such a great job highlighting the ups and downs about pursuing a career as a physician and the residency years. Recommended for anyone who is trying to decide whether they should be a doctor.

It's also just an interesting story, so you might enjoy it even if you aren't thinking of becoming a doctor. I read a few chapters to Michael and he
...more
Heather
This book provided a window into the mental process and emotional changes that often occur when going through medical residency process. Dr. Emily Transue writes with fluidity and grace, helping those of us on the patient side understand what goes on in the medical world, seeing the other side of hospital and patient care. She wrote it to stay connected to herself and her family as she went through the incredibly demanding process of residency. She shared it with us that we might understand that ...more
Shawna
I liked this author's tone. I've read several other doctor/nurse memoirs and sometimes they adopt a smug better-than-you tone, and that makes it really difficult to feel any empathy for them. They seem like hopeless burn-out cases that probably should have followed a different career path. I thought Transue did a good job of showing both the overwhelming amount of information that one must posess and utilize daily as a doctor and the emotional toll that aiding people who are sick and dying takes ...more
Wendy E
An interesting, quick read on how a student becomes a physician. Enjoyable, and seeing the journey through her eyes and her patients was interesting.
Kathy
This was a good read! The author, now an internist in Seattle, writes of her three years of residency in Seattle hospitals. She does a good job of describing the sleepless nights, the overwhelming responsibility and the tough decisions that go along with those three years before finally emerging as a licensed doctor. I particularly enjoyed her exploration of the emotional and psychological aspects of dealing with very sick people and their concerned, and sometimes distraught, families.
Susan
This is kind of a "blog on paper" of the three years that Emily Transue spent as an intern and resident. Turns out she spent those years right here in Seattle and is now an internist here (with an office right across the street from the library where I got the book!) which made the book even more interesting for me. She does a good job of sharing the highs and lows and inbetweens of learning how to doctor. I love ER and this was ER with detail and without commercials.
Christy
Okay, so picking up this book was mostly because of my interest at the time of "Grey's Anatomy," but I'm very glad I did pick it up. Coincidentally, Transue's residency takes place in Seattle, like "Grey's," but where "Grey's" is mostly froth, this lean journalistic account from Transue's time in residency is all truth. Through it all Transue lets us into her mind as she navigates through the stress of busy schedules and fractious patients, and it's an enlightening ride.
Rebecca
Quick, enjoyable read.
Coley G
One of the first books I read about being a resident and as much as I enjoyed the stories about her patients and some of her reflections, I couldn't help but noticed that she wrote with an almost irritating lack of perspective. As a very young, smart woman who never seemed to know sickness or death in her own life she just didn't have much to say other than "this is different and hard," which was honest and fair but just didn't connect with me, personally.
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