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Books, Journals, New Media
May 25, 2005

Surgical Memoir

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(20):2537-2541. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2537-b

This eloquent, inspirational, sometimes acerbic, often contentious autobiography presents an incredible “truth is stranger than fiction” life story.

Dr Augusto Sarmiento came to the United States in the late 1950s as an impoverished, non–English-speaking graduate of the National University of Columbia with the naïve expectation that he would be accepted as a resident in one of the most traditional and prestigious orthopedic programs in Boston. His determined naiveté may have been one of his greatest strengths, since it allowed him to stumble through a series of “leaps without looking,” from internship in Patterson, NJ, to residencies and preceptorships in Columbia, SC, Orlando, Fla, and the University of Miami, Fla. He learned to speak English fluently and struggled over the significant hurdles imposed by the requirements of multiple state boards. His journey was filled with as much misfortune and misjudgment as Don Quixote’s. In fact, the author compares himself to Quixote in preferring to defy “reality.”