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For readers of Atul Gawande and Paul Kalanithi, an intensive care doctor becomes a dying patient in her own hospital in this gripping memoir of unbearable loss, which calls for medical professionals to see patients as human beings, not just as a diagnosis.

'An enthralling page-turner... Anyone whose life has been touched by illness will be transfixed by this deeply moving tale' Rachel Clarke, author of Your Life in My Hands

'Urgent and supremely eloquent... In Shock is a book to set alongside the likes of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Direct Red by Gabriel Weston and, of course, Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air' Caroline Sanderson

At seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish suffered a catastrophic medical event, haemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her unborn first child. She spent months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries.

Every step of the way, Awdish was faced with something even more unexpected and shocking than her battle to survive: her fellow doctors’ inability to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and human suffering, the result of a self-protective barrier hard-wired in medical training.

In Shock is Rana Awdish's searing account of her extraordinary journey from doctor to patient, during which she sees for the first time the dysfunction of her profession’s disconnection from patients and the flaws in her own past practice as a doctor. Shatteringly personal yet wholly universal, it is both a brave roadmap for anyone navigating illness and a call to arms for doctors to see each patient not as a diagnosis but as a human being.


Awdish looks at the way we practice medicine with a combination of love and outrage. She writes beautifully about the secret, shameful feelings many doctors feel they have to hide and she shows us how we might do better. After reading this book, I feel like a different doctor.

Gabriel Weston, author of Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story

Outstanding... What marks it out is not the scale or urgency of the trauma, although I read the first chapters at such a pace that I almost had to remind myself to breathe. It is the writing. It sparks and crackles with a dark energy... The writing is not just intense, but intelligent... In Shock stands above other patient memoirs.

James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

Urgent and supremely eloquent... In Shock is a book to set alongside the likes of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Direct Red by Gabriel Weston and, of course, Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air.

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

A compassionate and critical look at medicine and illness from both a doctor’s and a patient’s perspective... Awdish has written a unique and insightful memoir.

Publishers Weekly

In Shock is both an enthralling page-turner and a haunting call to arms for the medical profession to practice with greater kindness, compassion and humility. Awdish captures beautifully how and why doctors, against our best selves, can lose sight of our patients in furious pursuit of the diagnosis, the save, the cure. Anyone – doctor or otherwise – whose life has been touched by illness will be transfixed by this deeply moving tale of catastrophic illness and everything it teaches us.

Rachel Clarke, author of Your Life in My Hands: A Junior Doctor's Story

Devastating and life-affirming all at the same time. As a fellow physician and mom, I found myself immersed in In Shock, both by Rana Awdish’s description of her heartbreaking losses as well as her triumphs of making it back to life repeatedly, to ultimately tell this story so beautifully. She reminds us all of the critical importance of maintaining our 'human-ness' when we are taking care of the very ill.

Lynn E. Fiellin, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine

Perhaps the bravest book that I have ever read in its gripping honesty and powerful lessons. An unrivaled view of healthcare as it really is - its triumphs and missteps - through the riveting, nakedly honest story of a physician who became seriously ill ... reads like a page-turning novel.

Leonard L. Berry, PhD, Regents Professor, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

There are few recent books to compare it to. Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, another physician’s account of illness, ended with his death. Awdish lives to tell the tale, but her cascade of medical problems is appallingly severe. Like [Adam] Kay’s, her writing is motivated by trauma, both her own and that of her medical colleagues…The dramatic story of her illness and recovery alone would make the book compelling, but in the growing genre of medical non-fiction, it is her reflections on medical practice that really stand out.

Dr Alexander Van Tulleken, TLS

When Rana Awdish's brief description of her medical experiences was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, one leading health care expert (who did not know Rana) tweeted that everyone who takes care of patients should read it. The same is true for In Shock, her book that describes her medical ordeal and the insights that flowed from it. Her story of her clinical problems and what she experienced as she endured them reads like The Odyssey. The moment toward the end when she takes the stage to describe her experiences for her medical colleagues is nothing less than electrifying. And the insights about the nature of healing with which she concludes her book are an inspiration.

Tom Lee, Chief Medical Officer for Press Ganey Associates, Inc.

In Shock should be required reading in every medical, nursing and health professional school. Dr. Awdish cuts to the core of what is ailing the healthcare system: a loss of humanity. Her honest and poignant appraisal of how modern medicine systematizes illness and suffering is a wake up call to rethink medical pedagogy and the concept of how we truly heal. Artfully navigating between her clinical expertise and a gift of authentic storytelling, she reveals the causal connection between compassion and survival. There may not be a more pertinent time for In Shock to be written. Our healthcare system is facing incredible change and transformation and Dr. Awdish's experience is a blueprint for a path forward towards truly patient-centered care. Ultimately, she gives us hope that through better understanding of each other and ourselves, we can reinvigorate the human connection at the heart of healthcare.

Andrew J. Shin, Chief Operating Officer for the American Hospital Association

Had me hooked right from the start. Incredible story, and even more incredible story-telling... has had an unexpected impact on me and will change the way I practice medicine from here on.

Dr Ranj Singh

Compelling and insightful, this story of what a doctor learns through coming close to death is packed with both action and reflection.

Cathy Rentzenbrink, bestselling author of The Last Act of Love

This book is remarkable - should be required reading for every medical caregiver. In Shock is so beautifully written, so full of wisdom about illness, emotional connection and ripe with ideas for improving communication with my patients. I was so moved by Dr Awdish’s courage, resilience and passion to improve medical practice.

Jeffrey Millstein, MD, Penn Medicine

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    October 30, 2017

    Bantam Press

    RRP $29.99

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