Becoming a Doctor

A Journey of Initiation in Medical School 

Becoming a Doctor is available for purchase at

“A richly rewarding book about medical education, far better and more worthwhile than others of its kind . . . although I started out with a strongly negative bias, I am giving this book a rave review. I think it is the finest, and in many ways the most interesting, of all the ‘I was there’ books . . . every medical student would gain insight by reading Konner’s remarkable book.” Francis Moore, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine


“Having spent some twenty years teaching in medical school and having read many books on medical schools and medical education, I have no hesitation in saying that this is the best account ever written on what goes on in those institutions and why the practice of medicine has become a disaster . . . Excellent writer that he is, Konner makes us relive along with him the life of a student in the pressure cooker of the dramatic and brutalizing environment of the clinical years at a hospital . . . While [he] is highly critical . . . he writes with love and respect for the medical profession . . . Becoming a Doctor, in addition to reading like an exciting novel, is in my opinion the most important book on medical education in almost eighty years.” Ashley Montagu, Chicago Sun-Times

“A skilled writer and observer, he chisels away at the mask of medicine . . . “ Boston Sunday Globe

“Dr. Konner describes with grace and skill those moments of learning when the crunch of clinical insight joins the how of practice to the why of theory . . . An engaging memoir . . . a valuable contribution to the growing literature of medical culture.” Gerald Weissman, The New York Times Book Review

“Becoming a Doctor…is, in a word, outstanding…an unparalleled, mature, and in-depth review of four years of the travail of medical school . . . a rare blend of philosophy, theology, humor, and education…As a physician, reading Becoming a Doctor was an enthralling and cathartic experience…Konner is a truly gifted writer.” William M. Swentko, M.D.,  Journal of the American Medical Association

“Anthropology has always shown us truths about ourselves that are stranger than fiction. Konner’s brutally honest narrative is in that tradition, although Konner delivers his disturbing report more in sorrow than in anger, grieving especially because the present reality contrasts so strongly with our true potential for healing. Read Becoming a Doctor; be prepared to enjoy it and learn from it; but be prepared for the shock of recognition.” Frank Davidoff, M.D., American College of Physicians, Annals of Internal Medicine

“An arresting and candid commentary on the medical profession.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Konner believes in a spiritual aspect to healing, something that has less to do with heroic measures and scientific techniques than with patience, courage, and faith . . . His departure should make us a little less optimistic about the capacity for change of the profession he left behind.” William B. Hamilton, The Washington Post

“With candor and insight he relates the elation of his first delivery, the depression of his first death, and the everyday fact of disease, pain, despair and hope.” Providence, Rhode Island Journal-Bulletin

” . . . a gem of a book, more telling and insightful than most others of its genre . . . Konner is a good writer. The brief sketches of the characters he paints are vivid and thorough, as they are in the best fiction…Though not practicing medicine, his contribution to it is memorable.” Phoenix, Arizona Republic

“Will fascinate readers who have a touch of medical voyeurism and enlighten anyone who uses the services of a doctor.” San Jose Mercury News

“Throughout the book, Konner carries the reader through pain and joy in daily encounters with chaos, disease, death, and healing cures. He is at his best in chronicling the need for empathy as well as mechanical virtuosity and pleads eloquently for humanistic training . . . I’m sorry he’s no longer with us in the medical profession. Nothing in my life has been so marvelous as being a doctor. But I’m glad that he wrote this book. And I dare every member of the American Medical Association to read it.” William Charles Conner, M.D., Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“One of my favorites, for sure. Konner went back to med school mid-career, and his observations on the med school experience are insightful, important, and much needed, even today.” Jaime Herndon, “50 Books to Read if You Love Medicine,” Book Riot, 2017

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