Committed – Adam Stern

“Patients are people. We are people. Be a person with your patients, and you are already halfway there.”

Committed provides an overview of what it’s like to be a resident psychiatrist, from imposter syndrome to applying textbook knowledge to patients’ lives. Dr Stern was one of 15 residents in “The Golden Class” at Harvard Medical School, the “highest ranked class in the history of the program”. In this book, he explores the highs and lows of these four years in three Parts (years three and four are combined).

There was a greater focus on the other members of the class than I had expected. I loved Feelings class, where the residents were able to bond, process the emotions they experienced as interns and learn to “never worry alone”. I also hadn’t anticipated the amount of time dedicated to Dr Stern’s dating experiences during his internship. It was probably because of her name but it started to feel like I was in an episode of Friends when Dr Stern was figuring out if he should ever kiss Rachel. I did eventually get sucked into the ‘will they or won’t they?’ though.

“Always find out about the people behind your diagnoses. That’s the most important part of this whole deal.”

I enjoyed Dr Stern’s writing style and would be interested in reading about patients he treated after his time as an intern. I felt I got to know Jane reasonably well and loved her, although I’m not sure if it was because of or despite her constantly challenging Dr Stern.

When I read Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone I couldn’t help becoming emotionally invested in the lives of her patients. While I was interested in Dr Stern’s other patients’ stories, I didn’t become invested in most of them. Much of this could be put down to the transitory nature of residency; oftentimes Dr Stern would be introduced to a patient, start to treat them and then move on to a new rotation, not knowing how the patient fared over the long term himself.

Content warnings include bullying, child abuse, death by suicide, eating disorders and mental health.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Grey’s Anatomy meets One L in this psychiatrist’s charming and poignant memoir about his residency at Harvard.

Adam Stern was a student at a state medical school before being selected to train as a psychiatry resident at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. His new and initially intimidating classmates were high achievers from the Ivy League and other elite universities around the nation. Faculty raved about the group as though the residency program had won the lottery, nicknaming them “The Golden Class,” but would Stern ever prove that he belonged?

In his memoir, Stern pulls back the curtain on the intense and emotionally challenging lessons he and his fellow doctors learned while studying the human condition, and ultimately, the value of connection. The narrative focuses on these residents, their growth as doctors, and the life choices they make as they try to survive their grueling four-year residency. Rich with drama, insight, and emotion, Stern shares engrossing stories of life on the psychiatric wards, as well as the group’s experiences as they grapple with impostor syndrome and learn about love and loss. Most importantly, as they study how to help distressed patients in search of a better life, they discover the meaning of failure and the preciousness of success. 

Stern’s growth as a doctor, and as a man, have readers rooting for him and his patients, and ultimately find their own hearts fuller for having taken this journey with him. 

One thought on “Committed – Adam Stern

  1. Pingback: Book Haul – January 2021 – Schizanthus Nerd

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