The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore


“The House of God” by Samuel Shem Posted on 18th May 2009, 10:06pm by admin

I have been told by my peers that this book, “The House of God” by Samuel Shem, is a must-read tome for all budding young doctors. I have never heard of the book during my medical school years, and only stumbled upon it during the dying days of my housemanship days. Having borrowed a well-thumbed version from the library, I consumed it within a couple of days to emerge with a eye-opening view of what medicine means to different people from different eras in different countries.

It is easy to become disillusioned with medicine after housemanship

Not that I’m recommending the book, because I must confess the sexual exploits in this 1970s book is certainly not worth highlighting. Beyond the somewhat exaggerated sexual details in this book, it certainly provides a different viewpoint to medicine as it is practised.

Without giving away too much of the plot, this story based in the 1970s revolves around 3-4 new interns (or housemen, in local terminology) starting their internship in the hospital called the House of God. It chronicles the hardships and sufferings they go through during that life-changing one year, through which they emerge as stronger people. Throughout the course of the story, they have a mentor called the Fat Man who lays down the rules of the games with 10 golden rules to live by.

Having been through housemanship, the story echoes some of the trials and tribulations suffered each year by 300+ housemen throughout the whole of Singapore. Certainly, there are differences due to the different era and setting of the story. Yet, the tales of difficulties in dealing with patients, families and healthcare colleagues hold true.

It is easy to become disillusioned with medicine after housemanship. After all, this is the worst year of any doctor’s life, and a lasting memory which is never erased. But it cannot be denied that housemen form the backbone of the healthcare system, without whom the system will collapse and there can be no reasonable degree of care for our never-ending stream of patients. Every medical student must be tested through the fire of housemanship, with the hopes of emerging as a finer doctor.

~ by Dr Maureen Chua

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Dr’s Blog is a feature of the CMG web site that aims to encourage interaction between Guild members. We hope to foster a spirit of community through the sharing of thoughts and personal experirences. The opinions expressed in these blogs are entirely those of the contributors and not of the Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore.

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Past Blog Articles

2014 Dec: A Prayer for Deliverance 2
2014 Oct: Who are you, Where am I?
2014 Sep: A Prayer for Deliverance
2014 May: Behind Those Clothes
2014 Feb: The Red Packet(s)
2014 Jan: God Loves You

2013 Dec: Caroling Reflections of an Expired M
2013 Nov: Scripture Reflection for Physicians
2013 Oct: Hang on. We haven’t beat this thing yet.
2013 Sep: Me and My Ride
2013 Aug: A Gift of Life
2013 Jul: Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty
2013 Jun: A Beeline
2013 May: Living My Love Of..
2013 Apr: The Healthcare Debate
2013 Mar: A Doctor’s Prayer
2013 Feb: Project Battambang ’12
2013 Feb: Mission Srolanth ’12: To Heal the Heart, with a Heart to Heal
2013 Jan: The Hardest Thing To Say…

2012 Dec: The Lost Art Of…
2012 Nov: Rome Sweet Home – Short Reflections
2012 Sep: He Keeps Falling
2012 Aug: God Decides
2012 July: Am I To Blame?
2012 June: Saving Fragile Lives
2012 May: Ruminations On Love
2012 Mar: The iPhone

2011 Dec: The Red Cross
2011 Nov: Give Thanks!
2011 Aug: Ashes – The Epilogue
2011 July: Charity
2011 July: Ashes
2011 May: Of Angry Birds & Cowardly Mice
2011 May: Notes From Salzburg On Good Friday
2011 Apr: What It Means
2011 Mar: A Job.
2011 Mar: Dear Father…
2011 Feb: Clothes, A Person Doth Maketh
2011 Jan: Wonderfully Made

2010 Dec: A White Christmas
2010 Dec: A Medical Christmas Carol
2010 Nov: Saying Goodbye
2010 Oct: I Am Always With You
2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
2010 June: But They Are Our Masters…
2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
2010 May: Man In The Mirror
2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
2010 Mar: Surely You Put Your Trust In The Lord?
2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
2009 Oct: The Broken Rosary
2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
2009 Aug: Let God Take The Wheel
2009 Aug: The Prequel: The One About Graduation
2009 July: The Sequel: The Later Months
2009 June: First Month of HO-Ship
2009 May: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem
2009 May: In The Discipleship for Christ


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