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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2010 Dec: A White Christmas
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2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
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2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
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2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
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2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
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2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
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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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