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The White Coat Diaries Reader’s Guide

By Madi Sinha

The White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha


Readers Guide
The White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha
Questions for Discussion

1. Impostor syndrome is when an individual suffers from self-doubt and feelings of fraudulence, in spite of being qualified to handle the situation. Discuss Norah’s experience with impostor syndrome and whether you have ever felt similarly.

2. Norah struggles to balance her career expectations with her family’s expectations. When do these expectations clash? Does she handle the situations the right way? Have you had to balance conflicting expectations in your own life?

3. Recurring emotional stress can lead to “compassion fatigue,” the experience of becoming emotionally numb and disconnected from the suffering of others. In the medical field, compassion fatigue is recognized as a factor in burnout. Discuss which characters show signs of compassion fatigue and what factors you think contribute to its development.

4. Norah and her sister-in-law, Reena, have a rocky relationship. Why do you think that is? How is this relationship different from Norah’s friendship with Meryl? Reena is Indian American and Meryl is not—do cultural factors play a role in how Norah relates to both women?

5. The White Coat Diaries is written by a doctor and shows what it’s like to work in a hospital. Does it match your expectations of how a hospital is run? Why or why not? Did this novel change the way you think about the medical system?

6. Where do you think Norah will be five years after the end of the novel? Will she be practicing medicine? Why or why not? 

7. At the beginning of The White Coat Diaries, Norah reflects that she’s spent so much time caring for Ma and studying to become a doctor that “for a person in my midtwenties, there are a lot of things I’ve never done.” Discuss how this relative inexperience shapes her decisions. How does Norah change over the course of the novel as she experiences various firsts (first night on call, first real kiss, first group of friends, first sexual experience, etc.)?

8. Norah tries to adopt a “confident and breezy” persona around Ethan, essentially trying to remake herself into someone she thinks he’d find attractive. Have you ever tried to change yourself for someone? Looking back, do you wish you’d made a different decision?

9. At the end of The White Coat Diaries, Gabe remarks on how different Norah seems compared to when he first met her, and Norah replies that “We all evolve.” How does Norah’s personality change from the beginning of the novel to the end? How has your own personality changed over the course of your life? Are our personalities ever fixed, or do we keep evolving? In what ways do you think you will be different ten years from now? In what ways will you be the same?
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