Medical Memoirs

This list is for those interested in medical careers, or who've wondered what life is like for the people on the front lines of medical care in this country. Whether you've imagined yourself a veterinarian or want to know exactly what paramedics and midwives do, these titles should satisfy your curiosity.

  • Lights & Sirens : The Education of a Paramedic

    2015 by Kevin Grange

    Kevin Grange writes about the intense nine months he spent as a paramedic in training at the Harvard of paramedic schools, UCLA's famed Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program. The grueling training--described as a mix of med school and boot camp--combined classroom instruction with ER rotations and a field internship with the L.A. Fire Department. 36 year old Grange learned how to tie tourniquets, push IV medications and perform chest compressions in the back of a speeding ambulance while under intense pressure to save someone's life. If you've ever considered becoming a paramedic, this book will help you figure out if you have what it takes for this challenging profession. For those of us who wonder what's going on in the back of that speeding ambulance, Grange offers an insider's view of emergency medicine performed on the move.

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  • Tell Me Where It Hurts : A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

    2008 by Nick Trout

    The world of veterinary medicine has changed a lot since James Herriot published his stories about life as a vet. Nick Trout's book describing a fictional 24 hour day as a staff surgeon at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston provides a glimpse into a profession which requires him to be “a social worker, a psychologist, a grief counselor, mentor, carpenter, plumber, cosmetologist, athletic coach, magician, grim reaper, and occasionally, guardian angel.” Trout shares stories ranging from his treatment of a 40 pound cat named Chunky Bear to his attempt to discover why a hermaphroditic boxer named Thor has begun secreting female hormones. Told with wit, compassion and style, this book provides a window into animal medical care in the 21st century.

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  • Labor of Love : A Midwife's Memoir

    2009 by Cara Muhlhahn

    Cara Muhlhahn knew at an early age that she wanted to be of service, so it was no surprise that becoming a midwife and helping women give birth became a labor of love for her. Muhlhahn, a midwife for over 30 years, describes her training in OB/GYN medicine and shift to midwifery. She was featured in a documentary produced by Riki Lake called The Business of Being Born and runs a private practice focusing on home births. "Mothers-to-be will be held spellbound, but fans of spiritual memoir and insider health-care accounts will learn a thing or two as well." (Library Journal)

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  • Working Stiff : Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

    2014 by Judy Melinek

    Forensic pathologists, also known as medical examiners, get their share of air time on TV shows such as Law & Order and the CSI series but what are their jobs really like? Melinek, a New York medical examiner, chronicles her training in forensic pathology and her subsequent work conducting autopsies, investigating death scenes, working with detectives and counseling grieving relatives. While she includes plenty of anecdotes about her first two years working behind police tape, she focuses more on the breadth of her experience dealing with sudden, violent or unexpected deaths. Well-written, inspiring and engaging, Melinek's memoir will fascinate those interested in medicine as well as arm chair detectives.

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  • Mountain Rescue Doctor : Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature

    2007 by Christopher Van Tilburg

    In this fast-paced book, Van Tilburg recounts his experiences as a member of the Crag Rats, a mountain search-and-rescue team operating out of the Mount Hood, OR, area. Started in 1926, the Crag Rats are made up of extremely skilled, highly organized volunteers who face blizzards, darkness, freezing water, and other extreme conditions to help rescue sports enthusiasts who have become lost or injured in the mountains. As a medical doctor, a previously published author (Backcountry Snowboarding; Introducing Your Kids to the Outdoors), and an adventure-sports devotee himself, Van Tilburg is uniquely qualified to describe the fears, excitement, frustration, and rewards of these searches. He examines the high costs of search-and-rescue operations and provides an interesting overview of the debate on whether victims should be held responsible for some of these costs. (Library Journal)

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  • This Common Secret : My Journey as an Abortion Doctor

    2007 by Susan Wicklund

    Susan Wicklund spent more than 25 years as a medical doctor and women's health care provider in the Midwest and in several western states such as Montana and South Dakota. She also provided abortions, and that sometimes led to death threats, assaults, stalking and harassment from abortion rights opponents. Wicklund chronicles her own life and shares stories about patients, among whom were a woman who lost her job because of a state law mandating a 24 waiting period; a rape victim who later learned that the baby she was carrying was in fact her husband's; and a regular anti-abortion protester who turned to Wicklund to terminate her own unwanted pregnancy. Publisher's Weekly calls this a "topical memoir (which) will make a compelling read for anyone interested in women's health and reproductive rights in America."

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  • The Shift : One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives

    2015 by Theresa Brown

    Theresa Brown used her skills as a former university English teacher to describe in vivid and compassionate detail a day in the life of a nurse working a 12-hour shift on a cancer ward in an urban hospital. There are plenty of books about nurses, but, as Publishers Weekly notes, this one stands out for "its honesty, clarity, and heart... Her memoir is a must-read for nurses or anyone close to one. "

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