Doctors Still Talk About ‘The House of God’ Novel – NYTimes.com

Doctors Still Talk About ‘The House of God’ Novel – NYTimes.com

A Book Doctors Can’t Close
By HOWARD MARKEL, M.D.

It was a raunchy, troubling and hilarious novel that turned into a cult phenomenon devoured by a legion of medical students, interns, residents and doctors. It introduced characters like “Fat Man” — the all-knowing but crude senior resident — and medical slang like Gomer, for Get Out of My Emergency Room.
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Called “The House of God,” the book was drawn from real life, and 30 years after its initial publication, it is still part of the medical conversation.

I still recommend it to future medical students, though I don’t know why.  It’s an entertaining book, and while medicine (and I hear resident education) have moved on, it’s a classic.


Comments

  1. I’ve been told (by numerous physicians in my city) that “Fat Man” is a local practicing GI doc. I drive myself crazy trying to figure out who he is.

  2. I think of my new book as the outpatient version of House of God.

  3. I wholeheartedly DON’T recommend it. Actually it’s pretty stupid and produces a highly inaccurate picture of residency and medical school.

    I would rather have residents and students read Message to Garcia.

  4. 08ArmyDoc says:

    I, too, thought it was a bad book. I prefer Intern Blues – turned my blood cold when I read it as a stud, and still gives me the willies

  5. Need to see the film based on the book!! never found it on DVD nor video though. I saw it fist, then found the book. i even used the book as a basis for a MSN presentation in holistic nursing class–something we felt strong about–for me–GOMERS–i LOVE CARING FOR THEM!

  6. House of God is a classic. If somebody wants to read about more contemporary training (presumably with a west coast bias) I would recommend Audry Young’s books What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student’s Journey and The House of Hope and Fear: Life in a Big City Hospital.

  7. We still talk about it. Rule #3 is a good rule (At a code, the first thing to do is to take your own pulse). People spaz out when the code pager goes off but it’s important to stop – take a breath – and start thinking. We joke about “orthopedic height” for the beds and no body cavity being unreachable. I remember during my medicine clerkship as a 3rd year med student being asked what the dosing of lasix is. I muttered “age plus BUN” under my breath and the attending pointed at me and said, “You’re right!” Then we talked about the real dosing but I couldn’t believe that an attending recognized that.

  8. TheNewGuy says:

    “House of God” is mandatory reading… every ‘stud should digest the volume in its entirely (if only to understand the philosophy of euboxism), followed by the cynical-but-accurate “Medical Student’s Survival Guide.”

    Additional reading for EM-bound studs should include “The Rape of Emergency Medicine.”