Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School” as Want to Read:
Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  572 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
"A valuable contribution to the growing literature of medical culture."—Gerald Weissman, New York Univ. Medical Center.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 24, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Humanities graduates considering medicine
Excellent. Really excellent. Its a great narrative account of a 31 year-old guy's four years in Medical School. The book is in parts gruesome, haunting, sublime, funny, and empathic. Its just a great book and better than a lot of ficiton I've read recently.

It goes year-by-year and specialty-by-specialty. So one chapter he's delivering babies, another he's watching a horrifying(for most people) labotomy, another he's dealing with an abusive, vulgar resident on the emergency ward, or his tragic ex
Jun 18, 2014 Kathleen rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, medicine
A detailed account of medical school clerkships 30+ years ago, but mostly an ego trip for the author. No one is smarter or cares more for the patients, and by goodness, all the women patients are so blonde, petite, and sexual!

His relations with females are problematic. Ninety-five percent of women have descriptions regarding their physical attractiveness to him, and often have some description of their clothing as well if he deems it "sexual." It gets really uncomfortable when he starts describ
Oct 11, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
Not a must-read, but a good one for med students. I actually read it once in college because I was an anthro major (the author was an anthro phd before he became a doctor) and was thinking about applying to med school. It was interesting to read it again nearly ten years later and in the throes of my MS3 year myself, the year book chronicles. I found it to be particularly interesting with regard to what it's like to go from being an adult with a career and your own self-sufficient life to being ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it
Very interesting - written by an established anthropologist who's reasons for wanting an education in medicine are admirable; during his fieldwork in third-world countries he frequently sees the suffering and death of natives, especially children, afflicted with illnesses we consider to be minor and easily curable. He seems humane and compassionate, and his stage of life - being 10 to 15 years older than the other med students and with small children at home, along with having been on the teache ...more
Liz Red
May 31, 2015 Liz Red rated it it was amazing
The journey he took is very essential in his conclusion. For every specialization he narrated-- I learned something new but what sets apart is the way he finished the book. A lot of people, well it's actually a cultural conundrum-- the saying that "I want to be a doctor when I grow up" but then again, read the book and then make your own conclusion.

I don't entirely agree with his ending though because I saw myself at times staring at the M.D. tag I drew after my name sometimes for my make believ
Jan 29, 2017 Melissa rated it really liked it
When I finished this book I had to wonder why the author went through 4 years of med school, starting at age 33, and never became a doctor. Four years of hard work and lots of money just to study the culture?? Reading this book, especially the end where he speculates on the things that are wrong about medical education and the attempts to change them that he felt were doomed to failure, I wonder how he would see things now. For instance, to remove some of the competitive behavior from the pre-cl ...more
Jun 30, 2011 KC rated it it was ok
I am a little over halfway through with this book - just finished the pediatrics section. He does have some interesting things to say about medical education, but then again, what isn't interesting about medical education to anyone invested in health care?

The most disturbing aspect of the book is Konner's misogynistic outlook and outright sexism towards the girls and women he encounters throughout his journey. He expresses little repulsion for the surgeons' terrible attitudes towards women, and
Jan 14, 2013 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Unlike many books written about a doctor's medical training, this one focused solely on Konner's clinical rotations, leaving out the first two years of classroom learning. I've read many books where the first year gross anatomy lab experience took up the bulk of the story, so this one was a refreshing change. Readers are treated to Konner's recollection of remarkable patients he saw on each rotation and the doctors who shaped his education along each step of his path.
Konner's path to medical sch
Jan 19, 2011 Parimala rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, medical
While it is not easy to draw a parallel between medical education in the US and that in India, this book comes as a breather that one can relate to, particularly because it comes from an anthropologist who chronicled his medical school experience. It is even more useful as an account of someone who entered medical profession even after being well established in his first profession. A peer in this respect.

I took my own sweet time to savor this book. Melvin Konner, through his book, has given me
Dec 14, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This book was a bit outdated, but I imagine it stills gives a fairly accurate view of the medical school experience. It was a very detailed account of example cases with patients and the tough decisions that physicians must make constantly. The author goes into detail about the various areas of medicine that he worked in while going through 3rd year rotations and discussed the major responsibilities and day - to - day work of a doctor in different specialized fields. The tough work and hours wer ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Coralie rated it liked it
This book had its good points and its bad points. I agree with other reviewers who thought that Konner was pompous and had a high opinion of himself. I did think that his descriptions of his medical school experience were insightful. He despised the arrogant doctors but really did seem to appreciate the ones who went out of their way to help patients and medical students. I didn't buy into the whole "I am more ethical than thou" premise. How ethical is it to become an absentee husband and father ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Mauri rated it it was ok
Out of all of the books I have currently read about medical school and residency, this one was by far the most depressing account. For four years, this man details his experience in medical school and its utter lack of redeeming qualities. Bright moments and successes are always overshadowed by diatribes on what is wrong with medical education in this country.

In the end, the author chooses not to continue on into residency, citing multiple reasons as to why he is doing a greater service to publi
Alex Laycock
Feb 06, 2015 Alex Laycock rated it liked it
Cant work out if this book was fascinating,irritating or self centered,or a little scarey,were the chapters too long,each seemed to have the same conclusion,hours are long,mistakes and successes and some senior doctors are very arrogant
Oct 13, 2008 Taneya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medicine, non-fiction
I read this in college. Dr. Konner was an anthropology professor at my school (Emory) and my roommate, who was an anthro major recommended this to me. Excellent read. I loved the stories and it helped keep me motivated to pursue a career in medicine.
Jonathan Sims
Oct 14, 2010 Jonathan Sims rated it really liked it
It is a very revealing and in depth account of a medical student's initiation into the hallowed ranks of American doctors.
Mar 07, 2009 Patrick rated it it was ok
A self-reflective book about an anthropologist ethnography of thed medical education system in America.
Mar 26, 2008 Rae rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
The author goes to medical school at age 33 and describes in great detail his third year of residency. I enjoyed it but it seemed tedious and a bit depressing by the end.
Aug 01, 2009 John rated it really liked it
many of the stories that the author describes as his experience with attending's, etc. are a reminder of the things i do not want to do and the attitude i never want to have.
Jan 11, 2011 Keith rated it it was ok
Interesting read, but I cannot imagine a more naive person entering medical school. Then again, I can't help but think he might have played that angle just for literary purposes.
Diane rated it liked it
Sep 10, 2014
Emma rated it liked it
Oct 08, 2008
Kristen rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2012
Chastity rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2013
Lisa rated it it was amazing
Feb 29, 2008
May Sihombing
May Sihombing rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2013
Viruz rated it it was ok
Oct 02, 2007
Lateefa rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2012
Rebecca rated it liked it
Dec 29, 2011
Jen rated it liked it
Aug 22, 2012
Shivesh rated it liked it
Apr 11, 2008
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • White Coat: Becoming A Doctor At Harvard Medical School
  • The Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic About the Making of a Doctor
  • What I Learned in Medical School: Personal Stories of Young Doctors
  • On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency
  • Med School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Medical School Experience: By Students, for Students
  • What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey
  • Intern: A Doctor's Initiation
  • Match Day: One Day and One Dramatic Year in the Lives of Three New Doctors
  • A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student
  • Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER
  • Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death from the ER
  • Bedside Manners: One Doctor's Reflections on the Oddly Intimate Encounters Between Patient and Healer
  • Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children's Lives
  • Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon
  • First, Do No Harm
  • Kill as Few Patients as Possible
  • Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue
  • Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids
Melvin Konner is the professor of Anthropology and associate professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University. He is the author of The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, amoung other writings
More about Melvin Konner...

Share This Book