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Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue
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Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  544 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
When Danielle Ofri enters the doors of New York's legendary Bellevue Hospital as a tentative medical student, she is plunged into the teeming world of urban medicine: mysterious illnesses, patients speaking any one of a dozen languages, overworked interns devising audacious strategies to cope with the intensity of a big-city hospital. In a facility where poverty and social ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 27th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical
Ofri is a good writer. She captures the essence of medical fumble your way through, not sure you are learning anyhing until you come out on the other side and realize you do in fact know something! Some parts made me laugh because even if I didn't have that exact experience, I had an experience like it. (Searching madly for the stool developer while the intern night float, only to return and find out mid-rectal exam that her patient has passed away. Then trying to figure out exac ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ofri's account of becoming a Dr. at Bellevue is fascinating. From learning to tell a patient she is HIV positive, to watching a patient die unexpectedly from unknown causes, to trying to get an IV into an IV drug user, Ofri describes her journey from intern to physician. I learned about the workings of a large inner city hospital, and this differed quite a bit from books on similar subjects like _Hospital_ by Julie Salamon. What stood out here, in contrast with Salamon's book, is Ofri's voice an ...more
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Interesting read. The author is clearly a right-brain thinker as well as a left brain physician, so it was interesting both how she interpreted her experiences and also how she told them.
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: journalism
Reading Danielle Ofri’s “Singular Intimacies,” there were two particular things that struck me. The first was the overwhelming doubt that seemed to track through the whole story—doubt about her abilities as a professional, doubt about her ability to reach out to her patients, and more general doubts about the ability of the medical profession itself to serve well those it was required to serve. We think of doctors as somehow above this; they are seen, I think, by most people as being almost “god ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-medicine
Ughhh, Danielle Ofri is such a ridiculously talented writer. I think the institution of medicine instills in physicians a kind of public unshakeability, in that they always have to outwardly portray this demeanor of coolheaded authority. (This is something especially patent in the works of Oliver Sacks and Jerome Groopman.) But Ofri writes in a such a way that you viscerally feel her bumps and bruises along the medical training pathway, but you also don't lose your respect for her. There were so ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych
Working in the infamous New York Bellvue Hospital, in the Psych ER no less is a harrowing experience. Dr Ofri's narrative combines the incredible compassion that it takes to work there, a bit of the danger and fear, and a huge amount of the frustration at the administation of the hospital, and the state of health care in America. I read the book as a person with bipolar, who has come to an ER in crisis. But I am a very educated patient , so I could also see clearly from the clinicians point of v ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
In a series of expressive short essays, Dr. Danielle Ofri chronicles her ten years of medical training, as a student, intern, and resident, at Bellevue Hospital Center, the oldest public hospital in the country. A thoughtful practitioner, Ofri is adept at capturing the complexities of modern medical practice. One standout essay finds her questioning the tenets of her medical training when a friend suddenly passes away. Ofri's stories offer a realistic portrait of a physician’s life.
Julie Whelan
Apr 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Anne Fladger
Shelves: booksread
I read this right after reading Final Exam: reflections of a surgeon by Pauline Chen. It's a different style of looking at the learning and practice of medicine told by giving stories revolving around individual patients. As a medical librarian, I appreciate that it's another well written insight into what my medical students are going through. The beginning about the scary step of jumping into the hospital wards as a third year student is very memorable.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book about becoming a doctor at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. Reminds me of my student days, being afraid of attendings while learning how to think for myself. The author later returned to work at Bellevue and started up the Bellevue Literary Review, where anyone involved in medicine can submit pieces about their frustrations or wonders with medicine.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medical, memoir
I really enjoyed this book! I thought that the stories were interesting, not only because of the unique medical challenges, but mostly because of the individual's stories. I also really enjoyed that the author shared her perspective/feelings/etc about her experiences.
Jenni Ogden
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Danielle is a wonderful communicator of medical mysteries to lay people. Her stories of her patients and her experiences as a doctor are full of humanity and caring. If only every doctor was like her!
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
The author had a very engaging writing style - I actually felt emotional after reading some chapters. Interesting clinical scenarios!
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is well-written and contains "snapshots" of patients the author treated when she was learning to become a doctor.
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good look at the brutality at medical training both emotionally and physically.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
collection of short stories about being a physician and training - better look into the life a doctor than any book i have read.
Toby M
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written. Very interesting.
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is absorbing.
Stacie Nishimoto
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I cried for the death of my belief that intellect conquers all."

"Waiting and holding--two burdens of medicine. Much has been written of the physical burdens of medical training, and there are many. And indeed these were the ones I had feared the most as I began medical school. How would I manage without sleep? Could I possibly memorize those millions of diseases? How would I pass all the medical boards? Those did turn out to be grueling tasks, but it seemed that if I
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
This was one I felt like I would or even should like but didn't. I'm quite interested in health care, and this book goes into a number of meaty topics: the scientific/clinical aspects of practicing medicine, the interactions between providers and patients, and the training it takes to become a doctor. The individual chapters are largely independent, and the book is missing a strong overall narrative, so it feels like there's little depth. The writing is highly descriptive and yet oddly flat. I g ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ofri writes about the first patients she encounters as a med student, intern, resident, and finally as a full-fledged doctor. Her stories convey the soul and emotion that lies within every patient interaction a medical professional experiences in their work. Good read if you're into stories from the medical world.
Sue Davidson
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I listened to a podcast by the author and was motivated from that to read this book. It is a moving account of her training as a physician and patients she treated. Looking forward to another book by this author.
(Read hard copy.)
“Entering Bellevue was like being in a lab experiment gone wild, with every possible parameter running amok. Knowledge would not be coming in an orderly, logical progression. But during that first chaotic week of medicine I conquered that most harrowing medical student hurdle. I learned how to draw blood.”

I never had any interest in being a doctor or a nurse. I went to college with many pre-med students and their studies did not interest me. However, if I run across a book by someone in these fi
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Full chapters on several patients, then, because her rotation changed, she never checked back with them...she seemed to come very late to combining medical acumen with the art of bedside manner and general empathy.

Her experiences shed light on how arrogance and all-knowingness come to be an unattractive part of becoming a doctor.

Sure, it is well-written. I was struck by her lack of continuity/connection with some of the patients. She seemed pretty self-centered and complained a lot about being t
Elizabeth Nesbit-comer
A pretty good look at medical training. I have read a ton of medical training bios and this one definitely had way more pondering and insecurities. Most stick to the nitty gritty details and strange cases, so this was a new perspective...but not necessarily one that I enjoyed a whole lot. I found myself skimming through her emotional crises and getting to the unique cases.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it liked it
For anyone in the medical field this is a fun book. I think she is a good writer (although at times I felt her stories felt embellished) and she has a great story to tell (if you can stomach it).
It is written as single stories about patients who had an impact throughout her medical schooling and residency.
It was an enjoyable read to begin my hiatus from fiction.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Danielle Ofri is the editor of Bellevue Literary Review, which was kind enough to publish an essay of mine, so I bought her book. So far it's a fascinating glimpse into the drama and decisions encountered by the budding physician.
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ofri is the kind of doctor you wish you had/hope to be - smart, determined, and not afraid to feel (sometimes strongly) for her patients. Maybe not as sharply insightful as other books in this genre, but still contains some very thoughtful, moving stories.
Bianca Ichim
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
FUCKING AWESOME, orice om care vrea sa devina doctor ar trebui s-o citeasca. Multumesc, Dan :D
Julie Davidson
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
What do doctors really think while they're preparing for rounds? Read this too find that out and more.
Jacqueline Bocian
Oh my is this a wonderful book. The author's loyalty to the patient population at Bellevue is heartwarming. She is more than just a doctor - she is a caring, loving healer.
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When I started medical school, I had no idea that I would become a writer. I'd completed a PhD in the biochemistry of endorphin receptors, and planned to become a bench scientist with a once-a-week clinic to see patients.

But during residency, I fell in love with patient-care, and realized that I'd have to put bench research aside. After three years of training, I took off some time to travel. I sp
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