Samuel Shem is the pen name of Stephen Bergman, MD, PhD, whose internship at Beth Israel (now known as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) inspired this novel. Published in 1978 to rave reviews, The House of God was the first unvarnished, unglorified, and uncensored portrait of what training to become a doctor is truly like, in all its terror, exhaustion, and black comedy, according to the publisher.
The story follows six eager interns, under the leadership of their rule-breaking senior resident, at the most renowned teaching hospital in the country. In the foreword, John Updike wrote that the novel does for medical training what Catch-22 did for the military life-displays it as farce, a melee of blunderers laboring to murky purpose under corrupt and platitudinous superiors. Updike concluded, The House of God continues to afford medical students the shock of recognition, and to offer them comfort and amusement in the midst of their Hippocratic travails.
Contributor: Monica Starkman from University of Michigan Medical School