New Medical Memoir: Training in the Urban Trenches of Bellevue Hospital

Danielle Ofri is a physician, writer and editor in New York City. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review and the author of two collections of essays about life in medicine. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, Best American Essays, Best American Science Writing, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and on National Public Radio. Her website is and the post below introduces you to her new book Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue.

Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue grew out of my ten years of medical school and residency. All during my medical training, these stories were percolating in my mind and soul. It was only after I took an 18-month hiatus from medicine, however, that I could finally start to write them down. More than just describing the chaos of internship, I wanted to trace the emotional development of a doctor, how the inner being grows into the white coat. The book is about the singular intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship, one that has little parallel in other walks of life.

Bellevue Hospital is a crazy and wonderful place to practice medicine. It’s been my medical (and literary home) for twenty years now, and I suspect they’ll be carrying me out on a stretcher. People tend to think of Bellevue as a psychiatric hospital, but it’s just a regular city hospital. I’m an internist in the medical clinic and I see patients from every country in the world, with every sort of medical condition. There is a never a dull day at Bellevue Hospital.

Medicine is so fast-paced that there’s rarely time for contemplation. Writing, by contrast is slow and deliberative; it’s often only when I write about something that I have a chance to truly consider its impact. It is the special honor of medicine to be plunged into so many people’s lives. Writing offers the gift of being able to step back and contemplate these stories and their meanings.”

Danielle Ofri

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