Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: Burning The Short White Coat by Eve Shvidler, M.D.

I love reading books written by other doctors. Especially when I actually have time to read them. When I read the P.R. blurb on OB/GYN Eve Shvidler's Burning The Short White Coat: A Story Of Becoming A Woman Doctor, I knew I HAD to make time to read this book:

"What happens when Sex and the City meets Grey's Anatomy?… A medical chick-lit novel, Burning The Short White Coat exposes the personal battles that single women must overcome in balancing a demanding profession and the desire to find a trusting and loving relationship…"

I've been waiting my whole life for the female House of God. I was very excited to know: Could this be it?

Well, not quite. But, this light read is definitely engaging, funny, and fun.

The story follows relatable Elle Gallagher (and BFFs) through four years of medical school, and much romance. The action of the prologue draws in the reader (Overnight call! Crash c-section!). The first chapter, "The Gross Lab", is so gross, it's great. I was having formaldehyde flashbacks, myself. There are such nice touches here: the dissection of the penis by the retired surgeon is worth the price of admission.

But, the issues that plague this book also begin here: spelling and grammatical errors. Lots of them.

Now, I also write for publication, and I hate when some reader expresses extreme annoyance over a couple of typos. But there are ALOT of typos, misspellings, and incomplete sentences throughout this book, so many that even I was extremely annoyed. If I wasn't almost at the end of the book, I would have put it down at "introidus". Which appears twice. These errors make the book read more like a rough draft.

There is also heavy use of clich├ęs, which I can forgive because at the same time, there is also plenty of fresh, unique material.

The chapter titled "Psych" is a fascinating little story-within-a-story featuring one of the creepiest cases I've ever heard. If what is described really happened, that's crazy disturbing. If it didn't, that's crazy good imagination.

One surprise for me is that my favorite character in this book isn't one of the female protagonists at all, it's the slightly immature but lovable surgeon Samy. We all know that attendings who hang out with medical students… well, that's just wrong. But this guy, he's complex, and he has some great lines. His advice to Elle on booty call vs. relationship girls is right on, and I'm not sure I've seen it done so well in a book that wasn't intended for teenagers.

The best part by far, though, was the chapter titled "Good Vibrations". I believe I had a similar hilarious conversation with my medical school BFFs. I would never have dared to write about it, though. I'm impressed!

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed what was overall a refreshing, real-deal, feminine take on the modern medical school experience. (Yes, people, med students DO party that hard.) I just wish someone had run a spell check and an editor's eye over the text prior to publication.

Hot off the presses! Addendum! As of 6/27/15 I have just heard from the author that she had already realized there were many errors in the original manuscript, and she put the whole thing through a copyediting process. There will be a new release in about 2 weeks from now, sans errors.


As an aside, I have to say, the author's blog on Wordpress ( is VERY good reading. Her articles and essays are enormously informative and entertaining. Moms in the audience, do yourselves a favor and read her post Where's My Orgasm from June 8, 2015.


  1. Ok, I read MiM all the time, and I've never commented. However, I just read the blog post linked at the bottom of this one, the one entitled "Where's my orgasm?" I felt the need to respond just in case anyone else actually reads it and considers the ideas valid.

    I'm all about sharing common experiences, especially when it comes to shedding light on seldom-discussed issues, such as lack of sex drive in the postpartum period. However, the advice given here is literally "it’s probably best to put on the poker face and take one for the team" what the actual F. That advice is accompanied by the implied threat that if you don't meet your husband's "needs" (i.e. have sex with him when you don't want to), then he may have to resort to cheating on you. Never mind the fact that you don't have a sex drive because you are busy caring for the small human you two have just created together.

    Direction like this is oppressive and in line with a culture that promotes the exploitation and rape of women. In case anyone's confused, I'm just going to go ahead and state the obvious here: nobody should ever feel pressured to have sex when they don't want to have sex. Ever in any circumstance.

  2. I disagree with this interpretation of what is in sum total a validating, rational, and practical article on a very common issue (that also happens to be an intensely sensitive topic). The one line that is pointed out here is taken out of context by itself, and the meaning negatively exaggerated. Please, Anon, consider that the advice posted is offered with healthy and therapeutic intentions. In my own experience as a women's health doctor, when this subject is brought up, it is most always by a woman who is bewildered and upset at her lack of interest in sexual intimacy with her partner. This is also the base scenario of the post: A woman is presenting with her own concern, and the physician is offering validation, reassurance, and a wide range of therapeutic options. Here is the greater context of what amounts to just a portion of a longer article:

    "….As women, we distract our passion for love-making with thoughts of the laundry that needs folding, the birthday present to be wrapped, the sleeping baby down the hall that will wake soon for a feeding. We continue down that path, we get lost in it. We tell ourselves it’s okay. And then, when we don’t feel like having sex again, we tell ourselves that he will understand.

    But he doesn’t. Studies have shown that the most common time for a man to cheat on his wife is while she is pregnant. Pregnancy is one thing, embracing our sexuality while in the depths of post-partum recovery and newborn care is wholly another. But, we cannot ignore our partners. They need us. And even if we’re not fully engaged in the idea of some “sexy sexy” after spending the day changing countless diapers, washing blankets and burp cloths, it’s probably best to put on the poker face and take one for the team. Papa needs our loving. Marriage, partnerships and long-lasting relationships are work. They require investment from both parties….."

  3. No, I pretty much read it the same way as anon did it. Woohoo! Another task added to the to-do list... better do it or he might cheat on me.... and I'd deserve it too because I wasn't meeting his needs! It's such a turn on, let me tell you...

  4. Me, three. I read it exactly the same way - the most common time men cheat on their wives is during pregnancy? And he has needs? And once a week or it's not enough if HE can? Feh.

    Look, I love sex, and I've had the same conversations with both my friends and my patients. It's a real problem, and a sensitive subject. And HE can help HER relax by DOING THE EFFING LAUNDRY and taking a few other things off that endless to-do list. We can help ourselves by outsourcing some of that list and letting ourselves off the hood. Date night is great (although we flunked date night - long story). But this is way too much like "lie back and think of England".

    I'm glad you linked to it, though. Now I know not to read the book, or anything else she writes.

  5. I think there's a huge difference between rape and somebody having sex with their spouse when they're not quite in the mood, at least at the onset. I don't think the article is suggesting that we endure something miserable, but it should be noted that men have a stronger tendency to tie up loving feelings with sex... That's just a fact and I think it's something women may have trouble understanding because our brains don't work the same way. Women don't have an obligation to have sex with their husbands, but they do have an obligation to make their husbands feel loved, if they want their marriage to last.


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