Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Judith Lewin

Second Advisor

Bernhard Kuhn




emotions, patients, doctors, human, medical


This thesis explores the importance of emotions, connections, and relationships in the medical field using three memoirs written by physicians. Many might argue, considering the state of the current healthcare system, that doctors are too focused on treating the physical bodies of their patients. Danielle Ofri’s Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue, Emily R. Transue’s On Call: A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency, and Audrey Young’s What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student’s Journey, however, all challenge this stereotypical model as detached, impersonal, and highly focused on treatment of the physical body. Instead, these women doctors present a more attached, empathetic approach. They profess that the science of medicine is inseparable from the emotions of practicing medicine and the relationships established with patients. Ofri, Transue, and Young bring human emotions to the forefront, thereby revealing that loss of emotion when treating and caring for patients may result in losing sight of patients’ and even one’s own human nature. In order to further explore the means by which these doctor-authors discuss emotions in medicine, I examine multiple emotive aspects of the doctor-patient relationship and other manifested emotions related more specifically to the doctors themselves. Through each, we see that emotions are not only present in the medical profession but that they are a vital part of its successful practice. Overall, we are reminded that doctors are human beings and that providing medical care is a human act.