Actual patients and illnesses are combined in a collection of stories that illuminate the struggles of a young doctor faced with life and death situations. He treads the fine line between detachment and compassion while enduring exhaustion and bewilderment from patients
who may be lying and who are certainly dying. As a resident, he knows he needs help but asking for it can be a sign of weakness. A hospital is full of bureaucracy and egos and people working at cross purposes to move patients through while they receive care. You don’t need a doctor to be your best friend, you need him to be qualified and capable. People skills and healing skills sometimes intersect but not always and a traumatic moment for a family is just one moment in a doctor’s crowded day. Holt’s stories show us moments of grief and grace.
— Sydne, Atlanta
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and BookPage
“Illuminates human fragility in tales both lyrical and soul-wrenching.” —Danielle Ofri, New York Times Book Review
In this “artful, unfailingly human, and understandable” (Boston Globe) account inspired by his own experiences becoming a doctor, Terrence Holt puts readers on the front lines of the harrowing crucible of a medical residency. A medical classic in the making, hailed by critics as capturing “the feelings of a young doctor’s three-year hospital residency . . . better than anything else I have ever read” (Susan Okie, Washington Post), Holt brings a writer’s touch and a doctor’s eye to nine unforgettable stories where the intricacies of modern medicine confront the mysteries of the human spirit. Internal Medicine captures the “stark moments of success and failure, pride and shame, courage and cowardice, self-reflection and obtuse blindness that mark the years of clinical training” (Jerome Groopman, New York Review of Books), portraying not only a doctor’s struggle with sickness and suffering but also the fears and frailties each of us—doctor and patient—bring to the bedside.
About the Author
Terrence Holt is a writer and an internist specializing in geriatric medicine, teaching and practicing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
[T]his book illuminates human fragility in tales both lyrical and soul-wrenching…. Holt dissects the medical experience in exquisite and restrained prose. — Danielle Ofri
Whether or not you classify this collection of nine stories as nonfiction, they ring true in both details and spirit, starting with a doctor’s evolution from the first night on call as an intern and ending with ethical questions that a physician ponders 40 months later, his residency complete… Dr. Holt never settles for easy answers, and the questions he poses—reflecting the frequent uncertainties of doctors and patients alike—will leave readers thinking long after the final page is turned. — Alice Cary
Holt, who also holds a master’s in fiction writing and a PhD in literature, is an excellent story teller… [T]he portrait Holt offers is artful, unfailingly human, and understandable. — Dennis Rosen
Holt’s new collection of stories, captures the feelings of a young doctor’s three-year hospital residency—the powerlessness, the exhaustion, the chaotic and seemingly endless shifts, and above all, the intensity of being with people in moments of extremity—better than anything else I have ever read… Holt’s unadorned prose and pitch-perfect dialogue contribute to the realism of these stories. At times they have the atmosphere of a hospital version of film noir, the narrator sounding as tough as Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in his effort to be efficient and unflappable… Anyone who’s considering becoming a doctor, or anyone who wants to know what’s at the core of a doctor’s initiation, should read this book. — Susan Okie