Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

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Vintage Books, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 267 pages
6 Reviews
A brilliant young transplant surgeon brings moral intensity and narrative drama to the most powerful and vexing questions of medicine and the human condition. When Chen began medical school, she dreamed of saving lives-- what she did not count on was how much death would be a part of her work. Almost immediately, Chen found herself wrestling with medicine's most profound paradox, that a profession premised on caring for the ill also systematically depersonalizes dying. Over the course of her education, training, and practice, she grappled at strikingly close range with the problem of mortality, struggling to reconcile the lessons of her training with her innate knowledge of shared humanity, and to separate her ideas about healing from her fierce desire to cure. Her rumination on how doctors negotiate the ineluctable fact of death becomes, in the end, a provocative questioning of how we should live.--From publisher description.

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User Review  - KaterinaBead - LibraryThing

This book did not help me with the feeling that Doctors Are Bad because they are vainglorious snots who are best avoided. I really understand the patient with advanced breast cancer who got no medical ... Read full review

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User Review  - apartmentcarpet - LibraryThing

A fascinating look at how doctors deal with death and dying, from the first cadaver they dissect, to the patients that they are unable to save. Dr. Chen proposes that doctors need to take a more intimate and caring role in dealing with dying patients and their families. Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Pauline W. Chen attended Harvard University and the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and completed her surgical training at Yale University, the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health), and UCLA, where she was most recently a member of the faculty. In 1999, she was named the UCLA Outstanding Physician of the Year. Dr. Chen's first nationally published piece, “Dead Enough? The Paradox of Brain Death,” appeared in the fall 2005 issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review and was a finalist for a 2006 National Magazine Award. She is also the 2005 cowinner of the Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2002 James Kirkwood Prize in Creative Writing. She lives near Boston with her husband and children.

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