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James Champion

Open book pages
Jo Naylor / Flickr

(Aired 5/11/24)

In this Open Book, my guest is a practicing psychiatrist who writes under the name James Champion.

He decided to use a different name when writing his first novel to protect the patients he writes about in his account of the two years he spent in medical school as a clinical resident.

“The clinical years of medical school are a unique and challenging experience,” he said - a period in which he was moving to a different rotation (including gynecology, cardiology, pediatrics psychiatry and neurosurgery) every one to two months for two years.

During that time in a small town in Kentucky, he met a motley cast of patients - including one with blue skin (the result of an overdose of oxycontin, a widely abused drug in the community) and worked with a hostile OB-GYN given to throwing tantrums almost daily.

A novel by a doctor writing under the nom de plume Samuel Shem inspired him to write about his experiences as a clinical resident. Shem’s novel, first published in the late 1970’s, is a satirical account of the life of a medical student working as a resident in a hospital. The book’s account of the often abusive working conditions was controversial at the time, but it did help improve working conditions for future medical students.

Richard Winham joined WUTC five years after the station began broadcasting to the Chattanooga area and the Tennessee Valley.