This Won't Hurt a Bit: (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood
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This Won't Hurt a Bit: (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Michelle Au started medical school armed only with a surfeit of idealism, a handful of old ER episodes for reference, and some vague notion about "helping people."

This Won't Hurt a Bit is the story of how she grew up and became a real doctor.

It's a no-holds-barred account of what a modern medical education feels like, from the grim to the ridiculous, from the heartwarming...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 20th 2011)
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Sara Cat
I am a huge Michelle Au blog fan, have been reading her since she was in medical school, so I couldn't wait to grab her book.

The good: this is a very clear layout of medical training. Excellent for families of medical students who can't quite understand, no matter how many times it is explained, what exactly a resident is.

Also, Au is quite brave in talking about the truth of doctor motivation - that we are not machines, we also have other concerns in life, and that medicine is not everything....more
Himali
I’ve been reading Michelle Au’s blog for the past several years---before she went into Anesthesia, before she had her first child. I remember first coming across her blog through her scutmonkey comics. I imagine this is the way most medical students start reading her blog. Her irreverent commentary about the absurdities of medical school clerkships made me laugh out in quiet libraries, where I was supposed to be memorizing pharmacology or something.

When she announced on her blog that she had wr...more
Rachel
A must read for every medical student.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
It takes a certain personality type to withstand the brutal years of medical school, residency and the lifelong commitment the profession of medicine requires. Dr. Michelle Au shares her journey through the process of medical certification, complicated by marriage and motherhood, in this warm and gently witty memoir.
Michelle writes of the mind-numbing sameness of the first two years of study, the sheer grind of learning facts and figures and then the unexpected terror when confronted with real l...more
Ruth
One problem I often have with memoirs is that they seem self-absorbed. The other is that they sound whiny. I mean realistically, few people write memoirs that can be sub-titled "My wonderful pain-free life". Still Dr. Au manages for the most part to avoid both. Yes, this is her story, and no, she doesn't sugar-coat the rigors of residency, especially residency as the mother of an infant, but she doesn't come across as asking for sympathy for poor little her or as railing against the big bad esta...more
Lily E
I believe every young doctor or medical student (or ones aspiring to become one) like to read stories and memoirs about working physicians and life on the hospital. It’s just like watching old ER or the more recent House and Grey’s Anatomy, only better because it’s in book form. I say this as a young doctor myself, 3 years fresh of my graduation, and been devouring medical related books and shows for the good past 10 years.
Michelle Au’s memoir spans from her first day at medical school to the en...more
Alla
"This won't hurt a bit" by Michelle Au is a memoir about going to medical school and becoming a doctor. First of: Medicine tends to be a depressing profession, unless spending your days caring for the physically sick patients and interacting with their emotionally sick relatives is your idea of fun. But the surprising thing is, aside from some seriously sad stories, Michelle keeps her writing light and even manages to laugh at herself in the process.

The book recounts the author's four years in...more
Liz B
This is a very interesting memoir about becoming a doctor--medical school & residency. I guess the motherhood bit was tacked on to sell more books? It's an important part of the book, but only inasmuch as it affects her education/ career as a doctor.

For me, the most interesting parts were the details about med school and anecdotes from her residency--when she started reflecting, I lost interest.

If I were her editor, I would advise two things:

*Make it less episodic. Watch out carefully for pl...more
Sarah
I came across Michelle Au's blog several months ago and decided to buy her first book to read on our vacation to Europe. It breezes through her first two years of medical school in quick succession, and spends only slight more time on her second two years of rotations. The primary focus of the book is on her 5 years in residency -- 2 in pediatrics followed by another 3 in anesthesia after she decided peds wasn't for her. She had a baby just as she switched residencies, which made things even mor...more
Rochelle Erickson
This book is so funny and so honest. It is a great look at the lives that medical students/residents and their spouses experience. It also is a very real look at women who work hard to achieve careers that have a very long, very hard, and very expensive roads with a slow monetary payout that might not slow down until their 40s or 50s. How do these women balance the desire for children and families with the passion for medicine and wanting to actually participate in the career they have worked so...more
Leslie
Au's memoir is wry, funny, and a vivid account of her medical education. Au focuses on her personal journey to becoming a doctor. Why she chose medicine, her choice of specialty, and her decision to change that choice figure prominently instead of patient tales. What stories there are illustrate the decisions she makes and the effects of those decisions. An equally prominent factor is her focus on motherhood and the competing needs of personal vs. professional life, which is even more skewed in...more
Amy
Very honest, straightforward writing without the overemphasis on medical ethics or overwhelming moments of humanity. She even accounts an instance in which it would have been meaningful to analyze the transition between life and death, but doesn't because she is called away by the attending to another case. Read the book in 3 hours.
Amanda G
Such a great read for a female approaching medical school! A really honest portrayal of (a) what it takes to become a doctor and (b) what kinds of unique decisions/challenges a female doctor may face in thinking about having children, balancing career and family, etc. I haven't found many female medical memoirs like this one and I am grateful to have come across it.
Hediyeh
It is actually sort of eerie how similar Michelle Au's life is to mine. Med school in Manhattan, meeting a blond-hair, blue-eyed ophthalmologist-to-be and getting married, thinking you want to do peds then switching into another field (I actually found her blog after frantically googling words like "switching out of pediatrics" and "being a woman in anesthesia"). Probably because of all these similarities, I really enjoyed reading Dr. Au's book. I loved her discussions on the so-called "work-lif...more
Kara Larson


Really interesting take on the journey from medical student to resident to attending. Dr. Au uses humor alongside thought-provoking mother/physician conflicts while helping us realize what an amazing thing medicine and life itself really are.

"Just because something is hard is no reason not to do it; ... in fact, there are few things worth doing that don't require significant sacrifice along the way."

""Here among people who are healthy, vital, walking down the street on their own two legs, heart...more
Erin
I would have given this 5 stars but the use of the phrase "physician's assistant" leads me to knock off half a star.

I have read Michelle's blog for years. She is really a fantastic person and very humorous writer, so anyone who is interested in reading medical themed books might like this one!

***ETA: So I gave the 1/2 star back because Michelle was sweet enough to respond to my tweet about the matter with apologies. This error may not seem like a lot to most people, but to someone who spent 45...more
Liz
I've never read Michelle Au's blog (though I'd like to start), so came into the book without any particular hopes or preconceptions, and found it a really enjoyable read. She is obviously a very talented, driven and successful professional, but she manages to humanize doctors and shows no sign of conceit. I was glad that the majority of the text was allotted to vignettes from the hospital, rather than to mothering. There are a ton of good memoirs about the challenges of parenting (although docto...more
Renee
My Thoughts: This was an enjoyable easy read about the life of a female med student then resident and how she juggled the job demands while also being a wife and mother. Michelle makes her life seem relatively simple and with few snafus because of her positive outlook but it's still apparent that there were great difficulties such as when she had to fire her nanny while being unable to miss a single day of residency. While I don't understand what would compel someone to choose this lifestyle, I'...more
Tiffany
I really enjoyed this book! As a possible pre-med at one point who constantly wavers in whether or not I should just go to medical school because of the career that I could have after it, her frank look at how hard medical school is and the years after just really hit home that that level of work is not worth it if that's not what I really want to do.

I personally think her day-to-day blog is funnier and a more enjoyable read than the book, since this book was doubtlessly subject to the whims of...more
Laurel
I read this book because I remember reading her comic strip "Mau's Moments" (I think that was the title) in the Wellesley News in college and enjoying it. I read the book in a day, it's full of anecdotes about med school and quick to read. I did actually cry a couple of times, but mostly laughed or just found it interesting. Dr. Au is an anesthesiologist, and as she notes, no one really seems to know what they do, but after reading the book, I do have a better understanding, and it's more intere...more
Emily Leathers
A fun, quick read.

Definitely a memoir, as opposed to Atul Gawande's books which all have a set of lessons to teach. Still, gave me some interesting insight into med school and the other aspects of medical training and a *much* deeper understanding of and respect for the anesthesiology specialty.

While she comes to no conclusions on the topic, the tension of parenting vs career is a great one and the examples of how even a pediatrician can feel lost as a parent are reassuring.
Emily
Loved it! It helps that I've been reading Michelle's blog since forever... but I was pleasantly surprised that the book was not a simple retread of the blog. It's the story of a young woman who goes to medical school, meets another doctor and marries him, and has adventures in medicine both poignant and hilarious. Oh yeah, and has a couple of kids. If you're considering going to medical school, I would absolutely recommend reading this book. Bonus: she includes several of her hand-drawn Scutmonk...more
Shannon
Like several other reviewers, I've been reading Michelle's blog for years. And I found this to be a really great telling of her stories from this specific time in her life. I laughed a lot, but I also cried. Her compassion for her patients is obvious, even when she's telling about how you become a little jaded over time. The descriptions of the system that turns med students into doctors was just enough for a reader that isn't involved in the system: enough detail to stay interesting, but not so...more
Minh
The world of medicine is so wildly different to what I do on a day to day basis, the only conception I have of it really comes from terrible soapy TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, so it's fascinating to read about it first hand from Michelle Au.

Her writing style is infectious (sorry no pun intended) and just laugh out loud fun. There are scenes where she describes her stint in Peds that I still describe to people.

A great look at the medical world from the viewpoint of the students.

Received as an...more
Panthergirl
Meh, it was ok. Moderately interesting peek into the realities of medical school and residency, etc. and ultimately juggling the medical career with motherhood. Snappy writing, albeit with some rather dumb mistakes. I guess medical school doesn't guarantee that you know your punctuation (I'm talking about a REFERENCE to punctuation, before you blame it on the typesetter). But just not snappy enough to make me care about this woman, who comes off as a jerk trying desperately not to come off as a...more
Erika
Fun read. If you're looking for an easy read to learn about medical school, internship, residency, and what life is like for a female doctor who wants to have kids etc, it's a good book to read. She also talks about why she chose her profession (anesthesiology over pediatrics) which was interesting. When you don't have parents or relatives in the medical field, it's hard to learn about the various fields and why people chose their career paths. It was a really useful book for me in that regard!
Cissy
Dr. Michelle Au gives an up close and personal account of her medical education, and all that it entails on the road to becoming a doctor, wife, and mother. Her story is eye opening, blunt, funny, touching, and inspiring. Made me even more appreciative for the sacrifices a dedicated doctor goes through, particularly a woman...who has a baby during her residency...who's husband is also in his residency. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!! Interesting read.
Jane
What a great book! It took everything I had to not read it all at once ... but it proved to be excellent motivation to make through section after section while preparing for finals and boards! All at once the book was eye-opening, funny, inspiring, and motivating. I highly recommend it to anyone because I am hard pressed to find a reader (in the non-preteen category) who wouldn't enjoy this read! Congratulations on a great read, Dr Au!
Marisa
I'm a little bit obsessed with doctor memoirs (although I'm not sure why, since I have never and don't ever plan to work in the healthcare field). I've read Michelle Au's blog for years and thought this was a good, funny read, although I do wish there had been more new material and less recycled/expanded blog posts. Also wish there had been more exploration of her life as a mother and how it interferes/intersects with her career.
Nancy Moffett
It was OK, a little whiny about how hard it is to be a medical student. It is clear that for Michelle Au, when it comes to medicine and motherhood, medicine wins. She barely whined about how hard motherhood is (she doesn't seem to experience it very much!) Her child is being raised by his "nanny," babysitter. But she is committed to her job!! Mildly interesting read. I'd rather have her as my doctor than my mother.
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Michelle Au graduated from Wellesley College in 1999, received her M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2003, and completed her residency in anesthesiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. She is married to Dr. Joseph Walrath, has two sons, and lives in Atlanta, where she is an anesthesiologist in a private practice."
More about Michelle Au...
This Won't Hurt a Bit (and Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood

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“…but because they felt the neighborhood was safer than the one around Columbia, the medical campus of which was so far north that it was practically an annex of the Bronx” 1 likes
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