Female doctors on medicine

Have to acknowledge that many of these have come from a list generated by Rachel Kowalsky tweeting out for recommendations https://twitter.com/rachel_kowalsky/status/1596636362106884096

Rachel Kowalsky



First, eat a meal. Then kick your dragons to the curb. The dragons of your self-doubt, my dear! You rode them all the way here. Have you read the chapter? That will help. Let’s go.


in a plastic gown. Gather your endotracheal tube, laryngoscope, suction, stylet, syringe, pink tape. Connect the child to the monitor, the IV to its tubing, face mask to blue bag. Ask for medications early, and dose with care. Never do math in your head.

Joanna Connon

Joanna Cannon’s book ‘Breaking and Mending’ recounts vivid stories from her time as a junior doctor. In this extract, impressive teamwork in A&E restarts a woman’s heart, but the author comes to realise there are many, less dramatic, ways to save lives.


There are many reasons why people decide to go to medical school, but if you had asked each of us on that first day why we were there, we would have told you it was because we wanted to make a difference. We would have told you it was because we wanted to do something valuable – something important. We would have told you it was because we wanted to save lives.  



Louise Aronson

A History of the Present Illness

In 16 elegant and original linked stories, A History of the Present Illness takes readers into the lives of doctors, patients and families. Powerful and original, the book offers a deeply humane, striking voice and an incisive portrait of health and illness in America today. Lauded by Kirkus Review as “a promising debut” of a new literary voice, the book tells stories readers haven’t read before.

A History of the Present Illness





Anna DeForest

‘s ‘A History of Present Illness’ + ‘OUR LONG MARVELOUS DYING’


“A History of Present Illness is a singular read, full of beauty and wit and monstrous truth. It took me down dark corridors of loss and out into the too bright sunshine again. I’ve never read anything like it. Wholly original and shockingly brilliant.”

— JENNY OFFILL, author of Weather



Suzanne Koven

“The numerous self-serving anecdotes are unnecessary. It’s at times preachy and idealistic. This book disappoints if you’re truly looking for self help.”


Perri Klass


Victoria Sweet


San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital was the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s Hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves — “anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care — ended up there. Dr. Sweet ended up there herself, as a physician. And though she came for only a two-month stay, she remained for twenty years.

At Laguna Honda, lower-tech but human-paced, Dr. Sweet had the chance to practice a kind of “slow medicine” that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place and its patients transformed the way she understood the body. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her patients evoked an older notion, of the body as a garden to be tended. God’s Hoteltells their stories, and the story of the hospital, which — as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern “health care facility” — revealed its truths about the cost and value of caring for body and soul.

In God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine Dr. Sweet lays out her evidence—in stories of her patients and her hospital—for some new ideas about medicine and healthcare in this country. In trying to get control of healthcare costs by emphasizing “efficiency,” we’ve headed down a wrong path. Medicine works best—that is, arrives at the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the least cost—when the doctor has enough time to do a good job, and pays attention not only to the patient but to what’s around the patient. Dr. Sweet calls this approach Slow Medicine, and she believes that, put into wider practice, it would be not only more satisfying for patient and doctor, but also less expensive. The New York Times calls her ideas “hard-core subversion”; Vanity Fair judges the book to be a “radical and compassionate alternative to modern healthcare,” and Health Affairs describes Dr. Sweet as a “visionary.”

Michelle Johnston


Judy Melinek

‘Working Stiff’


Karen Hitchcock

The Medicine

What happens when a doctor kills a patient? Are GPs overprescribing antidepressants? Does ‘female Viagra’ work? What role can psychedelics and cannabis play in treating pain? What is sickness, and how much of it is in our heads?

In The Medicine, Dr Karen Hitchcock takes us to the frontlines of everyday treatment, turning her acute gaze to everything from the flu season to dementia, plastic surgery to the humble sick day. In an overcrowded, underfunded medical system, she explores how more of us can be healthier, and how listening carefully to a patient’s experience can be as important as prescribing a pill. These dazzling essays show Hitchcock to be one of the most fearless and illuminating medical thinkers of our time – reasonable, insightful and deeply humane.




Lydia Kang


Susan White


Carla is a young doctor striving to become the first female surgeon at a prestigious Melbourne hospital. When a consultant post opens up, she competes with her lover for the job and thinks she can be judged on merit. But an assault after a boozy workplace dinner leaves her traumatised and struggling to cope with the misogyny coming from every corner of her workplace. Recovering her fragmented memories from that night, Carla begins a fight for justice that will shake the foundations of the hospital she loves.



Sumaya Dave




Carol Cassella


A Seattle physician has to reevaluate life and career when her husband’s business crashes. Through this tale of love and medical wonder, Cassella uses her 25 years of experience in the medical industry to inform a work of emotional distinction and penetrating insight.


Dr. Marie Heaton is an anesthesiologist at the height of her profession. She has worked, lived, and breathed her career since medical school, and she now practices at a top Seattle hospital. Marie has constructed her professional life according to empirical truths, to the science and art of medicine. But when her tried and true formula suddenly deserts her during a routine surgery, she must explain the nightmarish operating room disaster and face the resulting malpractice suit. Marie’s best friend, colleague, and former lover, Dr. Joe Hillary, becomes her closest confidante as she twists through depositions, accusations, and a remorseful preoccupation with the mother of the patient in question. As she struggles to salvage her career and reputation, Marie must face hard truths about the path she’s chosen, the bridges she’s burned and the colleagues and superiors she’s mistaken for friends.



Lucia Gannon

All in a Doctor’s Day: Memoirs of an Irish Country Practice by Dr Lucia Gannon, published by Gill Books



Rachel Clarke

How does it feel to confront a pandemic from the inside, one patient at a time? To bridge the gulf between a perilously unwell patient in quarantine and their distraught family outside? To be uncertain whether the protective equipment you wear fits the science or the size of the government stockpile? To strive your utmost to maintain your humanity even while barricaded behind visors and masks?

Rachel is a palliative care doctor who looked after the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Amid the tensions, fatigue and rising death toll, she witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff alike in conditions of unprecedented adversity. For all the bleakness and fear, she found that moments that could stop you in your tracks abounded. People who rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population.

Her new book, Breathtaking, is an unflinching insider’s account of medicine in the time of coronavirus. Drawing on testimony from nursing, acute and intensive care colleagues – as well as, crucially, her patients – Clarke argue that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to – and gratitude for – what matters most in life.



Heather Frimmer

Heather Frimmer is a radiologist specializing in breast and emergency room imaging. Her first novel, Bedside Manners, was published in 2018 and has received several awards including National Indie Excellence, Readers’ Favorite and Independent Press awards. She completed her medical training at Weill-Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian-Cornell and Yale New Haven Hospital. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban, Connecticut. Her second novel, Better to Trust, releases in September 2021.


eKinari Webb



‘Viaticum’ by Ethna MacCarthy

The sluice gates of sleep are open wide
And through the House its soothing silver tide
From ward to ward flows grave and deep:
Now flood, now fretful trickle,
And some it leaves marooned
Who cannot sleep.
The nurses chart its course all night
And those who drowse and those who tell their beads
And those who coma vigil keep,
Sunken beyond the lure of light.

“sit down at a typewriter and bleed” by Emilie Pine

What if my body could tell a story?
What would it say?

I think it would talk about blood, its mesmerising flow and its ebb.
About ending and renewing.

I think it would talk  about the touch of my fingers and my hands and another's lips.
The feel of skin on skin. Wet and slow. Soft and hard.
The shock of cold, the pleasure of warmth.

I think it would talk about the delight of orgasm 
and the delight of laughter
and the delight of sating hunger.

About tasting sharp and spicy, soothing and creamy.

I think it would talk about looking out and pulling in.

I think it would talk about perfume and stink.
About clean and dirty.
I think it would talk about illness and recovery
about fortitude and growth.
I think it would talk about loss and grief.
About standing solo and holding together.
About longevity and transformation.
About satisfaction. About happiness. About joy.

I think it would sound strong.
I think it would sound loud.
I think it would sound proud.

And I am listening.

And this, this is what it looks like when a woman bleeds onto the page.

from Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self: ‘Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes’

Irish Times – Unsupported, rushed and unheard: Report reveals women’s experiences in healthcare

The report says that for many, experiences with healthcare are positive, with open and trusted relationships with GPs referenced, effective communication in acute care, and access to services, including tailored female-centric services, when it comes to screening. In terms of maternity care, many also said they had positive experiences, highlighting “listening and empathy, right services, aftercare and engagement with the mother”.

Full article: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/unsupported-rushed-and-unheard-report-reveals-women-s-experiences-in-healthcare-1.4674190

Here’s the taskforce’s webpage https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/-womens-health/#

And click here for the report itself (Women’s Health Radical Listening Report 2021) >>

Pain, described by Maggie O’Farrell

His head is filled with pain, like a bowl brimful of scalding water. It is a strange, confusing kind of pain – it drives out all thought, all sense of action. It saturates his head, spreading itself to the muscles and focus of his eyes; it tinkers with the roots of his teeth, with the byways of his ears, the paths of his nose, the very shafts of his hair. It feels enormous, significant, bigger than him.

from Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

‘Pure, liquid hope’: what the vaccine means to me as a GP – Gavin Francis

Giving a vaccination is about the simplest medical encounter it’s possible to have, though among the most transformative. … The numbers are daunting, but there’s a spirit of anticipation and celebration in the air. Many are starting to dare to plan for a world post-Covid, and I’m tempted to share that optimism. Opening my first box of vials, I thought of a friend in Orkney, a GP who’d already vaccinated all the over-80s of his practice, and who’d begun to call in the over-70s. We met briefly in Kirkwall, outdoors, on my journey from Orkney back to Edinburgh. “How did it feel to get started?” I asked him.

From https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/11/pure-liquid-hope-what-coronavirus-covid-vaccine-means-to-a-gp-doctor

The nurse stands in their place – Doireann Ní Ghríofa

I watch a screen assembled around their baby, a boundary intended to generate an illusion of privacy. The screen cannot mute the infant’s screams, however, nor can it block the song of the nurses who stroke its brow, who coo as they hold it still for whatever agonies of syringe or cold scalpel that follow. This tiny howl is a sound I will never excise from my memory. I weep as I listen – I weep in helplessness, yes, but I also weep in gratitude for those nurses’ certainty that parents must spare themselves from witnessing a child’s agonies. The nurse insists. The nurse stands in their place.

from Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat

Medical gaslighting: The women not listened to or viewed as overdramatising or catastrophising

Dr Marie Theresa Ferretti, neuroscientist, co-founder and CSO of the Women’s Brain Project, says the same symptoms that tend to be attributed to organic disease in men, are much more likely to be diagnosed as anxiety or panic attacks in women. Women with acute pain are less likely to get opioid drugs and more likely to receive sedatives. Dr Ferretti views the recognition of mental health issues in women as a positive, but she argues that it becomes problematic if doctors dismiss the original symptoms because the women may end up with an incorrect diagnosis or ongoing pain.

See here for full Irish Times article >>>