Book Review: The Devil Wears Scrubs

Newly minted doctor Jane McGill is in hell. 

Not literally, of course. But between her drug addict patients, sleepless nights on call, and battling wits with the sadistic yet charming Sexy Surgeon, Jane can’t imagine an afterlife much worse than her first month of medical internship at County Hospital.

The Devil Wears Scrubs by Freida McFadden follows Jane, an Internal Medicine Intern, for her first few months of Internship. She has all the jitters of a slightly inexperienced young doctor, a lot to learn, and a senior resident straight from hell. Jane must learn to navigate the halls of a new hospital, survive on next-to-no sleep and side-step her vicious roommate.

I really enjoyed this book. There are quite a few novels and memoirs out there about medical education experiences, but what I enjoyed about The Devil Wears Scrubs was that it had a focus: one really awful resident, and the attempt to survive her onslaughts. That alone puts this novel head and shoulders above your average medical recollections because it provides a substantial plot.

There is nothing pretentious about the story-telling in this book. It is a lovely, easy read, and very witty. Basically, it is like McFadden’s blog on steroids – because, did I mention, the author is Dr. Fizzy from A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor? I am not a laugh-out-loud kind of person, but I did giggle a few times while reading, and that says a lot coming from me. I especially loved the little bits at the end of many chapters, where Jane declares the number of hours awake and her likelihood of quitting (and sometimes some other hilarious likelihoods).

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Jane talks about her skeletal companion

Jane’s struggles were almost too real for me, given my proximity to graduation and internship. Her exhaustion was palpable, as was her confusion at her resident’s obvious dislike of her. I’ve known such residents. They really do exist, and they give me nightmares.

What I was happy to realise exists is people “like me”. Because even if this is only a fictionalised account of an intern year, it seems to me now that there are other young doctors or students who feel just as lost as I do at times – people who have to delve really deep to find occupational confidence and sometimes still can’t find it, and people who feel like they annoy residents and nurses and even patients just by being there. And it is a horrible feeling.

But Jane just keeps GOING, and I’m sure even she doesn’t know how she does it, but SHE DOES. And I am sure if there is ever a sequel to this book, Jane goes from strength to strength. The book already has a pretty kick-ass ending. It’s not a finale as in “and they all lived happily ever after” (which is good) but it is hopeful.

Who should read this book? If you love McFadden’s blog, you’ll love the book. But I’ve read reviews and those who don’t love her blog enjoyed the book too. If you like Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Plus, it’s not quite so full of angst and death as Grey’s! If you hate Grey’s because it’s inaccurate, you’ll like this book, because it is written by an actual doctor and seems accurate in my limited experience. If you want to read something funny but with some substance, this is an excellent read, and you definitely don’t have to be in the medical field to enjoy it.

The book is short and delicious read, good even for a busy mom or healthcare worker to read. (I just realised that an audiobook version of this could be pretty damn good, especially if it was read by the author). I don’t think it being short really detracts from it: it suits the story well.

The Devil Wears Scrubs is the first book about medical training since The Karma Suture to capture my attention this well. My only complaint is that this just illustrated once again how high the bar can be and that I really need to pick up my game if I still hope to author a book of my own one day! (Because SOMEBODY thought it would be clever to do NaNoWriMo again this year.)

DISCLAIMER: The author provided me with an e-copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

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21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Devil Wears Scrubs”

  1. I think i’m going to have to read this book! You should read about “kitty” on my blog. I think she would qualify as a Devil wearing scrubs… Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh! Also going to check out that blog!

      1. Well, I have to admit that I named her Kitty for the purpose of the blog. Wouldn’t it defy standards of professionalism if I used her real name?

  2. Visiting from medical Mondays. I am definitely going to get the book! I am so glad many other medical professionals have other talents. Makes me want to publish mine ASAP

  3. Thanks for the rec! I am always on the lookout for medical memoir type books but many of them fall flat. I have high hopes for this one.

    1. Hi Kelly – sorry for the late response. Mhhh. I have seen some reviews by male doctors who enjoyed the book, but there is a bit of a chick-lit feel to the book. It depends what kind of books he usually likes? I hear The House of God by Samuel Shem is very good and very funny, though I haven’t read it myself. Hospital Babylon has some really funny (and some really intense) anecdotes that most doctors can either relate to or at least find interesting, and it reads very easily too. Hope that helps?

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