Reluctant Intern – Bill Yancey

internFrom Addison Wolfe never wanted to be a physician. He wants to be an astronaut. NASA turned down his application, forcing him to seek employment as a doctor. The problem with obtaining a physician’s license is the need to complete an internship to acquire one. Wolfe finds himself in an undesirable rotating internship in a very busy public hospital. Inexplicably, the Director of Medical Education seems to have developed an instantaneous dislike of him and the remainder of the internship class. Another mystery is why an attractive female physician expresses a romantic interest in him on the first day of internship.

“In local news today,” the reporter said, “state and federal authorities are in the process of taking into custody the entire intern class at University Hospital in Jacksonville. Officials cited the number of deaths attributed to this class as the reason. It seems that wrong doses of medications, inappropriate surgeries, failure to diagnose lethal conditions, and other mistakes have led to hundreds of deaths….”

Published: February 2014

Why I Chose It: I received a free digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I had originally marked the book as “to-read” on Goodreads because I have read medical novels in the past and enjoyed them, and I was curious about this one.

The Review:

So the novel follows Addison Wolfe through his intern year, and I liked the amount of “hands on” work that he actually does. I don’t come from any type of medical background, so I found it really interesting to read about Wolfe working on the different cases that come in to the hospital. I found each of the patients interesting, which was nice because Yancey kept my attention throughout each scene and made me genuinely concerned about the patient’s welfare.

For the most part I enjoyed the different characters in the novel. Yancey does a good job at introducing multiple interns/doctors that are around Wolfe. I felt like there were enough characters to make it seem that there are lots of people in the hospital and that it was always bustling, but I was never overwhelmed with the amount of people I needed to remember. I did, however, get a little frustrated with the names used for characters, because sometimes the book would flip between using their first or last names. For example one character in the novel was sometimes referred to as “Latesha” and sometimes as “Marks.” It took me a really long time to realize that this was actually one character named “Latesha Marks,” and I was genuinely frustrated. I wish that the novel had just chosen one format and stuck to it, rather than continuously changing.

The one strength I found in the novel was the amount of medical “jargon.” While there are a lot of terms or medical processes present in the book, Yancey has found just the right balance of how much to put in the novel. I really enjoyed learning different terms, or watching Wolfe perform different medical procedures. I felt like I was learning stuff from the book. Yet I was never once overwhelmed with the amount of information coming at me. There were never too many difficult terms, nor were the procedures performed beyond my capacity to understand or imagine. I think the representation of the hospital and techniques performed was really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

intern2Now that being said, I did have some difficulty with some of the story that occurs in the ER. In some scenes, Wolfe has to describe what he’s doing to his instructor, or he’s simply observing a medical procedure being performed. But because the scene provides the reader with the different terms, or goes through the process of describing exactly how the procedure works, the entire scene is slowed down considerably. I didn’t get the sense of urgency that I thought was needed for a scene in the ER. A really good example is when Wolfe is learning to perform CPR on a patient, and his instructor goes through the process step by step. By the time Wolfe actually got to doing compressions, I felt like the patient would have died. I just needed more urgency and faster pacing in the ER to really be sucked in to the emergency that was happening. I think it would have been a good opportunity to maybe gloss over some of the jargon, and allow Wolfe to kind of de-stress by going over it in a later scene.

Overall there was less of a sense of urgency, less drama,  than I expected. In the description from Goodreads I guess I had been given the expectation that this would be a really intense novel about medical malpractice, or a medical inquiry, etc. While we follow Wolfe through his internship, that doesn’t really happen. Now there is major drama at the end of the novel, but it probably happens in the last 10% of the book, and what happened was entirely unexpected. I was quite pleased that the book had shocked me – the last few scenes are quite intense and good – but I really wish there had been more of a build up to these scenes. I really had no inkling that what would happen would happen, and while I like being surprised, I don’t like feeling a disconnection between the shocking scenes and the rest of the book. I think there just needed to be more continuity throughout the book, more of a dramatic build up towards the end events.

I think overall I was surprised with the pacing of the novel, because it was a lot slower than I expected. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I was enjoying the medical explanations and the descriptions of different patients. In terms of reading about a medical intern learning medicine, the book is quite enjoyable. I was just unfortunately missing the drama and urgency that I wanted in the novel, and definitely needed more of a connection between the majority of the story and the drama that unfolds at the end.

Rating: 3 / 5


“ “Code Blue, ER ICU, Code….” “Excuse me, please,” Wolfe told the young woman. “Someone is trying to die next door.” ”(Kindle Locations 683-684)

“ The attending continued. “Of course, you’ll have to ride along. You did want to be an astronaut, didn’t you? Think of this as a mission.” Who told these guys about NASA? Wolfe asked himself. And why do they all equate ambulance rides with trips into outer space? ” (Kindle Locations 1317-1318)


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