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

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  780 Ratings  ·  75 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 20th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Sara Cat
May 30, 2011 Sara Cat rated it liked it
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.
Jul 25, 2011 Himali rated it liked it
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
Ariana C.
May 16, 2016 Ariana C. rated it really liked it
Considering I have never read a memoir, Michelle Au made me find my favorite kind of genre of novels. I have always wondered what the exact procedure for medical school is like and this book made me find my answer. As a person who aspires to go into the medical field, this made me want to pursue this profession. Au explains what the residency and internships are like as she becomes more tiresome each day. The perpetual lifestyle of saving someones life or being the person who kills the patient i ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
May 02, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2011 Lily E rated it liked it
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
Jun 29, 2011 Alla rated it it was amazing
"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
Liz B
Jun 23, 2013 Liz B rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
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
May 31, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
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
Jul 27, 2012 Rochelle Erickson rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 03, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it
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
Jul 29, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 04, 2015 Liralen rated it really liked it
Fun. Managed to be funny/snarky/blunt while at the same time coming off as quite thoughtful, and without the holier-than-thou feel that some doctor-memoirs* have. Au focuses on the learning stage of things—the stage when she is young and doesn't know what she's doing and is trying to figure out what it means to be a doctor, and what it means for her to be a doctor.

Really enjoyed this one. Was a bit sorry that I'd taken it along as a can-leave-on-the-plane book (which I ended up handing off to a
Amanda G
Mar 30, 2014 Amanda G rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 20, 2011 Hediyeh rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2016 Jaylynny rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
A funny take on medical training, mixed with wife- and mommyhood. Nothing earth shaking, and her blog is funnier, but she's a fresh, clear-eyed voice in the doctor as female genre.
Stacey Crossman
Jul 06, 2016 Stacey Crossman rated it really liked it
Not as funny as I originally thought it would be but it's a well written autobiography on life of being both a mother and a doctor and the struggles of both.
Kara Larson
Jul 07, 2012 Kara Larson rated it it was amazing

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
Feb 12, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-i-ve-read
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
Mar 30, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it
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
Jun 18, 2011 Renee rated it really liked it
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
Sep 24, 2012 Tiffany rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2015 Cyd rated it it was amazing
This book was funny, touching, insightful, and just great. I loved it!
Emily Leathers
Jun 05, 2012 Emily Leathers rated it really liked it
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.
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
Vicky Sasongko
Jul 05, 2016 Vicky Sasongko rated it it was amazing
Funny. Entertaining. Just as Michelle has always been!
Feb 23, 2013 Shannon rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2011 Minh rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
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
Aug 09, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up to 4
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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."
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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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