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Everyone knows that medical school and residency are stressful for young physicians. The AMA Alliance knows that the training years can be just as challenging for the physician's spouse. Our new blog offers resources to provide specific support for partners of physicians in training, as well as assistance in finding an Alliance in your area.

We know that support for the family of medicine is most comforting when it is provided by the family of medicine.

To learn more about the Young Member Connection please view our first blog entry here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Book Review: Doctors Cry Too by Frank H. Boehm, M.D.

Hi all: I apologize for not posting last week's book review on this site. To keep you up to date, here is this week's review.

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Frank H. Boehm is an obstetrician/gynecologist who writes a twice monthly op-ed in the Tennessean newspaper, entitled Healing Words, about the life lessons he has experienced as a doctor. His articles became so popular he decided to write a book that is a compilation of his favorite and most popular pieces. The result was the book Doctors Cry Too.

Organization. The format of the book and Boehm’s straightforward, simple language makes Doctors Cry Too a very pleasant and easy read. The book is organized into various topics, including medicine and religion, the end of life, and personal stories. Within each topic there are a number of essays, each of which spans an average of 2 pages in length.

Its easy format and short stories allow you to choose whether you want to read the book cover to cover (which I actually did in the span of 2 nights) or read an essay at your leisure. The stories don’t build upon each other so you can read the essays out of order.

Topic. In Boehm's words, his book consists of "stories that deal with the emotional and personal issues surrounding health care and physicians." His book is best described as a Chicken Soup for the Soul written by an obstetrician. For that reason, I recommend this book to obstetricians and to mothers. I recommend this book to mothers as opposed to parents in general because of the personal experiences a mother goes through during pregnancy.

Pros and Cons. It was refreshingly nice to read Bohem’s personal stories about his children. It is extremely evident that he loves his children dearly and he has a happy marriage with his wife Julie. This is another reason the book is like Chicken Soup for the Soul—you get a glimpse into the mind (and heart) of a compassionate, loving father and husband who cares deeply for his family and his patients. You feel good to reading such nice thoughts from an accomplished physician. The book also gave me a sense of hope because Bohem has achieved a wonderful balance between personal and professional life that many physicians strive to achieve. It makes me feel like it can be done.

However, I must admit that I was disappointed with Bohem’s inability to delve deeper into controversial issues. For example, at one point he comments on a woman who died because of an illegal, inadequately performed abortion before Roe v. Wade was decided. He focuses on the woman’s death and its impact on him, but he briefly mentions the need for a change in the law so that deaths like this would not happen. Of course, abortion is an extremely controversial issue and one that Bohem couldn’t quickly delve into. Also, the purpose of his story is to demonstrate the impact this patient had on his life. But I am one who is always interested in delving into the difficult stuff and somehow making sense of conflict. For that reason I sometimes felt the book was a bit superficial.

That being said, the book certainly accomplishes its underlying goal. It gives a reader a glimpse into the heart of a loving, caring physician. It helps patients see that doctors, who may seem like they don’t care, do in fact cry because of the compassion they feel for their patients.

Photo from Dr. Boehm's website.

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