I Can't Save You Cover
I Can't Save You

1. I Can’t Save You is the story of a Black man’s complicated journey to becoming a doctor. When you’ve been a patient, have you ever thought about your doctor’s background? How important do you think the backgrounds of medical professionals are to your diagnosis or treatment?

2. As the author makes clear, the discipline of surgery is predominantly white and male. What do you think surgeons who don’t fall into either category bring to a patient’s treatment? To medicine as a whole?

3. The author is frank in writing about feeling like he did not measure up to expectations—a trait some call the impostor syndrome. Have you ever felt like an impostor? Were your feelings similar to the author’s?

4. The patient stories in I Can’t Save You are vivid. As you read, did they prompt memories of your own experiences as a patient?

5. The author writes about the difficult relationship he had with his father. How did that relationship strike you? Do you think having such a relationship with a parent would hinder a doctor’s ability to connect with his patients?

6. As the author makes clear, doctors have personal lives, sometimes disorderly ones. Reading about the author’s life outside medicine, did your opinion of him change? Did you find that you judged him for his misbehavior?

7. The memoir’s structure is unusual in that the author intentionally uses different approaches to tell his story, and the narrative isn’t necessarily straightforward. Did you find his approach refreshing? Irritating? Something else?

8. The author uses an internal dialogue throughout I Can’t Save You. To what or to whom do you think the author is talking?

9. There’s humor in I Can’t Save You, although not everyone will agree on which sections are funny. Was there a section that struck you as funny?

10. What do you think the author wants you to take away from I Can’t Save You?