Parkland grad turned physician writes first book
By ANNA GILGOFF
Special to The Press
When Madi Sinha watched medical TV shows as a kid growing up in the Lehigh Valley, she didn’t know then that she would one day practice medicine herself.
“I watched ER growing up and all through medical school,” she admitted. “I was kind of obsessed with it.
“Then, I became a doctor and realized no one actually goes around yelling ‘stat!’ in the hospital.”
When she wrote her first book, she wanted to depict that less glamorous side of the profession.
“I tried to show readers a more realistic view of medicine in ‘The White Coat Diaries,’” she said.
The book is a fictionalized version of some of her real-life experiences.
“I based a lot of the characters on doctors who I worked with over the years,” she said in an interview with NPR.
Sinha also included some of what she went through as a resident and the feelings she had about herself and others.
“I was a resident at Jefferson Hospital and I had all these experiences I didn’t want to forget,” she explained.
She recalled one of her first experiences as a resident.
“I accidentally stuck myself with a needle and I went to pieces,” she recalled, surprised at her reaction. “I’m usually pretty tough and together, but that just shook me.”
“[These are] common experiences that you go through alone,” Sinha explained.
That also led her to think about how expectations figured in the mix, especially for women in medicine.
“There’s a lot of societal pressure on women,” she mused. “We’re always holding ourselves up to people but we’re all just doing the best we can,” she said.
Sinha wrote “The White Coat Diaries” in bits and pieces.
Originally, she started to keep a notebook of all the things that happened during her residency.
That came in handy eight years later, when she was pregnant with her first child.
That’s when she took an online writing class.
“It just seemed like something to do at the time,” Sinha explained.
Members of the class were required to work on a novel, so she returned to the notebook she had kept.
She was inspired to write the book because she wanted to remember the people she had met and what she remembered experiencing.
The book centers on protagonist Norah Kapadia and her medical residency.
After a tough first day, the pressures of her work and life in general begin to affect her, and her insecurities begin to mount.
Then, she meets Chief Resident Ethan Cantor whom epitomizes near perfection and changes her life.
“The White Coat Diaries” has met with welcoming reviews.
The book has been described as “Grey’s Anatomy” meets “Scrubs.”
For years, Sinha kept the book under wraps.
Even her parents did not know about the project.
“They were proud and surprised,” she said of their reaction when the book was released. “I hadn’t told anyone I was working on a book because I wasn’t sure anything would come of it.
Sinha said she thought her life was not interesting enough for a memoir, so she steered clear of that.
“Publication seemed like a very distant goal for many years,” Sinha said.
But now she has her feet wet, Sinha’s working on two additional novels to be released in the next two years while continuing to work as a musculoskeletal and spine specialist.
“My field involves figuring out why a patient, for example, can’t climb stairs or walk the way they used to, or why their arm is numb, or why they keep dropping things, any functional complaint,” she explained. “Every case is like a mini episode of ‘House,’ and that’s what I love about it.
“I love making a challenging diagnosis and being able to help my patients figure out what’s going on and how to fix it.”
After graduating from Parkland High School, Sinha attended Villanova University Medical School and at what is now Drexel School of Medicine. The mother of two practices in Philadelphia. Her parents still live in Lehigh Valley.
More information on Dr. Madi Sinha and “The White Coat Diaries” can be found at madisinha.com.