Samuel Shem's take on the first year of being a Doctor, the internship, is an excellent account of the destruction of the ideology of Medicine and the gradual erosion of innocence within this context.
Basch, Shem's protagonist is introduced to the daily practicalities of being an Intern, by The Fat Man who kicks Basch's lofty ideals out from under him, giving him the cynical know-how to survive the ordeal. Basch turns from being shocked at such disrespect, to eventualy embracing it and losing his own humanity.
Shem chronicles Basch's use of sex, humour, cynicism and finally denial as tools to survive the onslaught from the patients and the Institution's inane ethos of treating their patients to death. What struck resonance with myself was not only the connection with medicine (having been the equivalent of an intern myself) but the analogy (intended or not) with growing up and the loss of childhood belief and innocence. This belief is something that society maintains when it comes to medicine, a belief that everyone (or at least many) can be cured, and that Doctors can do it.
Basch's journey is that of discovering the true meaning of being a Doctor and rather than becoming permanently jaded and disillusioned, he finds the balance between reality and holding on to the origin of why he chose medicine as a career. This is an excellent read, evoking thought and reflection, truly a memorable book that I took something away from. I look forward to Shem's book on his experience within psychiatry.