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Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon, one of only two hundred or so women among the alpha males who dominate this high-pressure, high-prestige medical specialty. She is also a superbly gifted writer â€“ witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeonâ€™s Kitchen Confidential â€“ a unique insiderâ€™s memoir of a fascinating profession.
Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and aggressive self-confidence, and Dr. Firlik confirms that timidity is indeed rare in the field. â€œTheyâ€™re the kids who never lost at musical chairs,â€ she writes. A brain surgeon is not only a highly trained scientist and clinician but also a mechanic who of necessity develops an intimate, hands-on familiarity with the gray matter inside our skulls. Itâ€™s the balance between cutting-edge medical technology and manual dexterity, between instinct and expertise, that Firlik finds so appealingâ€“and so difficult to master.
Firlik recounts how her background as a surgeonâ€™s daughter with a strong stomach and a keen interest in the brain led her to this rarefied specialty, and she describes her challenging, atypical trek from medical student to fully qualified surgeon. Among Firlikâ€™s more memorable cases: a young roofer who walked into the hospital with a three-inch-long barbed nail driven into his forehead, the result of an accident with his partnerâ€™s nail gun, and a sweet little seven-year-old boy whose untreated earache had become a raging, potentially fatal infection of the brain lining.
From OR theatrics to thorny ethical questions, from the surprisingly primitive tools in a neurosurgeonâ€™s kit to glimpses of future techniques like the â€œbrain lift,â€ Firlik cracks open medicineâ€™s most prestigious and secretive specialty. Candid, smart, clear-eyed, and unfailingly engaging, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes glimpse into a world of incredible competition and incalculable rewards.Katrina Firlik was the first woman admitted to the neurosurgery residency program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the largestâ€“and one of the most prestigiousâ€“neurosurgery programs in the country. She is now a private practitioner in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a clinical assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. She lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with her husband, a neurosurgeon turned venture capitalist.Â
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