With a self-deprecating lens, Lawrence reflects upon his lessons and a few redemptions. His professional misadventures are cushioned with pervasive humor and an impressive knack for storytelling. Anecdotes litter the pages, sustained with admirable pacing, and despite the dense jargon, the writing is clear and comprehensible. Lawrence skillfully dwells on his intense, action-oriented episodes. The only significant flaw is the denouement, which includes a rushed retelling of his graduation and turns sermonic. This disappointing finish dilutes the strengths of the narrative and leaves a detached aftertaste.
Lawrence’s account is an exciting motley of descriptive, buoyant, and well-paced stories. It is a competent chronicle fortified with wit, actively positioned levity, and digestible medical recounts. Though not consciously didactic, the memoir does find itself in moralistic waters from time to time, but its missteps are few. This is an original and swift tale, supported by accessible and congenial writing. Readers both inside and outside of the medical profession will find it enjoyable and often edifying.
Takeaway: This vivid memoir of a doctor-in-making is soaked in deadpan humor and will appeal to med students and medical-memoir readers.
Great for fans of Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta’s Tears of Salt: A Doctor’s Story, Henry Jay Przybylo’s Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia, Elizabeth Ford’s Sometimes Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B
Loved it! 😍
A man with a head trauma walks into med school – gotta be the start of a joke, right?
To become a doctor requires a sensible, responsible, and studious person, correct? I guess John didn’t get the memo. Having worked in a number of different professions, all completely removed from medicine, he decided to have at it. And have at it he did—with no less than two mountain bike crashes and injuries which caused short-term memory loss before starting med school.
The self-deprecating humour really kept me going through the book. It was definitely an original take on a doctor’s experiences and gave a new meaning to warts and all. TV shows have glammed up the road to the degree and this book breaks down the first four years of med school to show you the piles of paperwork, studying, and lack of sleep. However, it also exposes you to the parts of the practical rotation I never expected! In the back of your mind you understand that a doctor should know a little about everything before they specialise, but reading about the experiences they have to go through in all the departments like OB-GYN was hysterical! To realise that they sometimes had to practise on colleagues had me cringing. The road through the different departments was described with fun yet with sensitivity – especially in the burn and psychiatric wards. The cardiology comparisons were brilliant, like if you were a proficient water-skier, you had a higher chance of being able to keep the retractors open correctly because you had the stance down pat! After all the drama he went through and the experiences just to get to residency, I’m not sure whether to applaud him or admonish him for putting me off going to the doctor ever again . .
The author has a brilliant style of writing that keeps you engaged and doesn’t bog you down with technical details. There were some punctuation errors but they didn’t detract from the overall mad journey of med school. A thoroughly enjoyable book, able to be read in one sitting as you join the doctor-to-be in celebrating his successes and . . . well, let’s not talk about the other shall we . . .
"Honest and self-deprecating, Dr. Lawrence takes us through the ups and downs of his medical school training in a very humorous manner. A fun, easy read, hard to put down but with convenient chapter and subject breaks.
I was left smiling and gratified that John chose, albeit with convoluted reasoning, to become an MD and stuck through the significant personal and professional challenges to achieve that status. For us non-medical types, Playing Doctor was a fun learning experience of science, the human anatomy and spirit, while learning facts useful to maintaining strong personal physical and mental health.
Playing Doctor leaves me with renewed and added respect for the medical profession and for its wide range of caregivers - doctors, nurses, paramedics and others, who minister to our fellow human beings. Dr. Lawrence exhibits admiration for his senior residents, interns, nurses and attending physicians. Perhaps more important is the great respect he gives his patients, listening carefully to them as a key ingredient to their treatment." -- RON LEZELL 5.0 out of 5 stars Playing Doctor - Inspirational, Positive, Amusing