Emily's Reviews > The House of God

The House of God by Samuel Shem
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Sep 26, 09

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Read in July, 2009

I read this during the first weeks of residency and couldn't have picked a better time to do so. What an excellent depiction of all that medical training is but shouldn't be.
Few thoughts:
1) Some of my Family Med colleagues thought House of God was abhorrent. I thought long and hard about this--and even about why it wasn't shocking to me. Here's the rub: it's satire y'all! All I can say is that if the anecdotes make you so uncomfortable, commit yourself to improving health care and medical education. We've come along way since the 1960s, but there's still a long way to go.
2) I liked House of God so much, I wanted to recommend it to my favorite fellow readers. But, I can't imagine that it would be fully understood by non-medical people. There are a few realistic and/or cynical few of you, however, that I think would really appreciate and enjoy it! (So if you're interested, we can always discuss afterwards.)
3) Lastly, the elephant in the room: my only real gripe about House of God is the excessive sexual situations. They just felt disproportionately over-the-top. Perhaps this is a reflection of the audience it was initially written for: primarily males, in the free-loving 1960s. Everything else in the novel had modern-day applicability, but the on-call threesomes, etc. must be less prevelent in the current era of "professionalism".
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