Madi Sinha is a New Jersey-based physician and author. Her debut, The White Coat Diaries, was named one of the top books of 2020 by PopSugar, Marie Claire, E! Online and several other outlets.
I zipped through it in several days. The writing is sharp and heartfelt, and the characters, engaging and relatable. I loved the deep dive into the healthcare system in the U.S., and found the look at the demands placed on medical professionals thought-provoking and engrossing, yet also accessible to readers (like me) who aren’t immersed in it.
Madi was kind enough to answer a few questions about writing, combining her careers as a doctor and an author, how she might improve the healthcare profession, and who she’d invite to a writer’s group. Note: sense of humor required.
To start-and you probably get this a lot, but how do you accomplish it all—being a doctor, writer, mom, and wife?
This very generously-phrased question makes it sound like I have my act together, but I feel like a hot mess most of the time, honestly! I’m lucky to have a very supportive spouse who keeps the house from falling apart. Like most moms of young kids, I don’t really get long stretches of uninterrupted time, so I’m a big believer in what I like to call The Power of Five Minutes. I wrote The White Coat Diaries in 5 to 10- minute intervals over the course of almost 8 years. The ten minutes waiting in the car line at my daughter’s preschool before pick up, the five minutes in the office parking lot before work, however long I spent in my dentist’s waiting room every six months, I spent that time writing. It doesn’t seem like much, but over 8 years those little intervals of time add up. It’s playing the long game for sure, but then again almost all of publishing is.
Have you always wanted to write?
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love hearing stories or telling them. It’s one of the things I love most about medicine—I get to spend all day listening to patients’ stories, and I meet people from all walks of life, from every profession and background you can imagine. I can’t think of a better education to have as a writer.
If you could change one or two things about the healthcare system in the U.S., where would you start?
I’d start by changing how we think about healthcare as a society. Right now, we’re prioritizing corporate profits over patient outcomes, we’re prioritizing efficiency and financial savings over the humanity and dignity of patients, doctors and nurses. We can’t change anything until we acknowledge that healthcare isn’t just another industry. It’s not car manufacturing or computer programming. Patients aren’t products and their health and well being is not a commodity, and we have to stop behaving like they are.
Similarly, if you could change one or two things about doctors’ training, where would you start?
The first thing I’d do is promote more women to leadership and teaching positions in hospitals. That would be a great start.
If you could start a writing or book club with anyone—living or not, famous or not, writers or not—who might you invite?
My writing club would include David Sedaris, Ann Patchett, Jane Austen (of course!), and Trevor Noah. A sense of humor would be a membership requirement.
When The White Coat Diaries is brought to film or TV, any thoughts on who you’d like to play Norah, Ethan, Norah’s mom and the other main characters?
Oh this is a great question! In the unlikely event TWCD gets made into a Netflix series, my only request would be that Mindy Kaling is involved in some way. Honestly, I hope they bring her on as a writer and she makes my jokes funnier.
Can you give a hint as to what your next book is about?
It’s about a gynecologist and it involves a lot of vagina jokes, and that’s probably all I’m allowed to say about it.