Boys in White
The transition from young layman aspiring to be a physician to the young physician skilled in technique and confident in his dealings with patients is slow and halting. To study medicine is generally rated one of the major educational ordeals of American youth. The difficulty of this process and how medical students feel about their training, their doctor-teachers, and the profession they are entering is the target of this study. Now regarded as a classic, Boys in White is of vital interest to medical educators and sociologists.
By daily interviews and observations in classes, wards, laboratories, and operating theaters, the team of sociologists who carried out this firsthand research have not only captured the worries, cynicism, and basic idealism of medical students—they have also documented many other realities of medical education in relation to society. With some sixty tables and illustrations, the book is a major experiment in analyzing and presenting qualitative data.
“Boys in White was the first major sociological study reporting the actual educational experience had at medical school, not as it should be or as the American Association of Medical Schools portrayed education at medical schools. Participant observation by Howard S. Becker and Blanche Geer provided insights that could not be had by survey methods.”
—Classic Study of Medical Education Review
“Boys in White explores and describes the students’ developing perspective toward the medical school program and faculty, and ultimately toward the future practice of medicine as indicated by fourth year choices in internships and residencies…. It is difficult to imagine anyone concerned with medical or even general education who could fail to find this study bearing directly on some of his most important problems…. The importance of Boys in White as a sociological analysis lies in the attention which the authors have devoted to the problem of standardizing and communicating the observation of complex social organization over a long time span…. Boys in White is much more than a study of a timely problem. It is a sociological monograph of first-rate theoretical importance.”
—Ivan Belknap, Administrative Science Quarterly
“Boys in White will be of interest to many sociologists, particularly those concerned with participant observation as a field work method.”
—George G. Reader, American Sociological Review
“This book describes the 1961 study by Howard Becker and his colleagues of how “boys in white”—medical students—become doctors. It remains a remarkable ethnographic study of how these young men at the University of Kansas lived.”
—Thomas Laqueur, BMJ: British Medical Journal
“The nature of the study and the findings are important.”
—Fred Kern, Jr., Journal of Health and Human Behavior