Writing Genre: Bio/Memoir

Balance, Pedal, Breathe: A Journey Through Medical School

Written By: Claire Unis, MD MFA

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Claire Unis, MD
Claire Unis, MD

Writing Genre: Bio/Memoir

Balance, Pedal, Breathe: A Journey Through Medical School

Written By: Claire Unis, MD MFA

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In a Snap

More About the Book

When she received her acceptance to medical school, Claire Unis was an idealistic 22-year-old waitress living in a small town in the Eastern Sierra. She arrived confident that caring about people would carry her through. But the trails she found herself traveling in medical school were more treacherous than she imagined. As she emerged from the dark tunnel of endless studying into the labyrinth of the hospital, she found herself wrestling self-doubt while placating irascible patients, fighting sleep-deprivation, and sinking in the quicksands of empathy before arriving at the crux that plagues physicians today: how to retain compassion for others while struggling to stay whole.

By beautifully juxtaposing the often-tempestuous landscape of becoming a doctor with the author’s wide-ranging adventures in nature, this smartly written memoir explores the heart and sinew of medicine, discovering places where knowledge and meaning diverge—and, unexpectedly, intertwine.

"I wondered, as we wound through shaded paths, whether I would come to know my way around the human body the way I learned landmarks in the park — paved roads like major vessels, footpaths like capillaries, and we passing through like blood cells, our lives predetermined while we bumbled blindly along."

About the Author

Claire Unis MD MFA is a board-certified practicing pediatrician who took time off during medical school to pursue a MFA in Creative Nonfiction, knowing that the best time to write about becoming a doctor would be in the moment. Claire brings her love of writing, as well as her understanding of every individual’s need for personal expression, to her work as a communication coach and teacher of fellow clinicians in her medical group. Her creative nonfiction has been published in a number of journals including Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Awakenings Review, and East Iowa Review, and she has recently completed a memoir about drawing on diverse experiences in the process of becoming a doctor. Titled “Balance, Pedal, Breathe,” her book is scheduled for publication in March 2022. Currently Claire facilitates writing workshops and discussions of literature for Sutter Medical Group in northern California through her moniker, LifeLines: Literary Art in Medicine. Passionate as she is about written and spoken word, she enjoys sharing literary enrichment as a means to combat burnout. For more information and examples of her writing, please see www.claireunis.net.

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