Elizabeth Ford went through medical school unsure of where she belonged. It wasn't until she did her psychiatry rotation that she found her calling - to care for one of the most vulnerable populations of mentally ill people, the inmates of New York City's jails, including Rikers Island, who are so sick that they are sent to the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for care.
These men were broken, without resources or support, and very ill. They could be violent, unpredictable, but they could also be funny and tender and needy. Mostly, they were human and they awakened in Ford a boundless empathy. Her patients made her a great doctor and a better person. While Ford was a psychiatrist at Bellevue she became a wife and a mother. In her book she shares her struggles to balance her personal and professional lives, to care for her children and her patients, and to maintain the empathy that is essential to her practice - all in the face of a complex institution, an exhausting workload, and the deeply emotionally taxing nature of her work. Ford brings humor, grace, and humanity to the lives of the patients in her care and in beautifully rendered prose illuminates the inner workings (and failings) of our mental health and criminal justice systems.
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It's Way Better Than Its Title (I Promise)
It's a beautifully honest story about her work, with far more empathy than you usually find in such narratives. "Jailhouse Doc" but for psych, and with a physician you know actually cares enormously about her patients.
The story is crafted in an unusual fashion, but I like it - unlike other doctor-memoirs, Dr. Ford doesn't alternate between her personal life and medicine, but intertwines them in a way that pushes the story forward.
She does a nice job of vocalizing "characters" (real people, or at least composites per the author) with psychosis, which is not an easy task. It's a tough tone and pace to master, and she does a really nice job.
I'm not sure who let this title fly, but Dr. Ford is an enormously talented writer. If you're interested in criminal justice, medicine, or psychiatry, read this book.
- Amazon Customer
fantastic, riveting, heartbreaking.
As a hospital administrator, I loved listening to this psychiatrist's autobiography of managing this psychiatric floor of the famous Bellview hospital, serving patients from the infamous Rikers Island.
I especially loved the disaster management part of her story after hurricane Sandy hit New York. I work for an isolated rural hospital, serving a vulnerable population, and we could very well see a similar scenario one day.