Ron Ruskin is a Toronto writer and psychiatrist-analyst.

Ron Ruskin is the author of The Last Panic, a medical thriller, and the tragic-comic novel The Analyst Who Laughed to Death. His latest novel is Confessions of a Medical Student, released in September 2018 by Sphinx Books. Ron is a founding editor of Ars Medica, a medical-humanities journal, and has published over forty-five stories in literary and medical journals. He has co-edited texts on psychotherapy supervision, as well as on humanities and medicine, such as his 2011 book Body and Soul.

Ron Ruskin is a staff psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He directs a hospital day-treatment program where he works with a mental health team treating psychiatric patients. Ron has written and presented papers on the impact of suicide on residents and psychiatrists, boundary violations in psychotherapy, the psychoanalysis of violent sports, such as hockey, and the importance of arts and humanities to heighten sensitivity to the pain and suffering of others. (Read more of the author’s story.)


Confessions of a Medical Student

Confessions of a Medical Student charts 20-year-old Ben Adler's tragic-comic journey from home to med-school and the world beyond. Callow and impressionable, Ben leaves his over-anxious Russian-Jewish parents in their Toronto drugstore, and Angie, his girlfriend whom he plans to marry against his parents’ wishes. In anatomy, Ben dissects his cadaver, "Clive,” with lab-mates. As the first blush of med-school fades, Ben learns of his father's life-threatening illness. Cash-poor, Ben enlists in the Navy to earn room and board, joins Lenny's Underground Railroad for draft-dodgers, jeopardizing studies and provoking his ill father's scorn.

The novel chronicles the tumultuous years 1966-1971 through the eyes of a naïve, sentimental student striving to move beyond family, self, and place. Ben careens from mistake to mistake over four years, yet at the novel's end he emerges with self-knowledge and a touch of worldly pain and wisdom.

New Release: September 2018


Confessions of a Medical Student

Excerpt from Chapter 4

Callaghan and I stood together that first day, waiting in our new white lab coats. To tell you the truth I felt like leaving right then and there—in the centre of anatomy were tables covered with linen shrouds. Underneath the shrouds were white mounds. Padre Moran in his robes marched to the front of the room flanked by Dean Witt and the anatomy prof. Behind them were lecturers, the anatomy fellow, and Tim, the assistant with a gimp foot. Dean Witt, the tallest in the troupe stepped forward in his dark suit, stretched to his full height and asked for quiet…

“Let us bow our heads,” Padre Moran said. Seventy novice medical students formed around the metal stables with cadavers.

May we pray for those who were God’s children though their souls have departed; their bodies remain today, for they have been bequeathed to science. Let us remember they have been given to you in good trust in the name of medicine and learning…

I looked up to hear a sob. Callaghan was crying. He wiped tears from his face. Padre Moran asked for silence. We recited the Lord’s Prayer. Callaghan sobbed softly. We were ordered to unveil our body. I took a breath and unrolled the white shroud from cadaver # 166. A man lay stiff on the table, his skin darkened, thick, tight about his joints so his knees and elbows seemed unnaturally polished and large. His skin flaked in places and had the colour of rust. His feet were wrapped neatly in plastic bags tied over his ankles; his hands were similarly wrapped. The head, which we could see through the translucent plastic, revealed a face and shut eyes that appeared smoky, the jaw and brown sunken, the flesh ridged from lying on one side. The features were indistinct, smudged. My stomach twisted. “I don’t think I can do this.”

Artwork by Ron Ruskin.

Artwork by Ron Ruskin.

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