In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor - the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.
This funny, candid memoir of McCarthy's intern year at a New York hospital provides a scorchingly frank look at how doctors are made, taking readers into patients' rooms and doctors' conferences to witness a physician's journey from ineptitude to competence. McCarthy's one stroke of luck paired him with a brilliant second-year adviser he called "Baio" (owing to his resemblance to the Charles in Charge star), who proved to be a remarkable teacher with a wicked sense of humor. McCarthy would learn even more from the people he cared for, including a man named Benny, who was living in the hospital for months at a time awaiting a heart transplant. But no teacher could help McCarthy when an accident put his own health at risk, and showed him all too painfully the thin line between doctor and patient.
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly offers a window on to hospital life that dispenses with sanctimony and self-seriousness while emphasizing the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice?
"[This] rousing memoir describes [a] tumultuous year of medical internship at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, a 12-month marathon noteworthy for a steep learning curve, emotional extremes, and chronic sleep deprivation... A genuine glimpse at the making of a doctor." (Booklist)
"This story is a year in the life of an almost-doctor, but it is so much more than that. It's a book about mentorship, compassion, pride, and the insecurity of learning the most important lessons in your career - and in your life - long after those lessons were supposed to be taught. It's about the precarious and often unclear boundary between life and death, and those tasked with maintaining this boundary, even at the end of a thirty-hour shift. Perhaps above all, it's about decent people doing a very hard, decent thing with their lives. Yes, doctors are people too - and McCarthy tempers and then transcends the unease of such a reminder by telling his story with much humor, and even more heart." (Jeff Hobbs, author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace)
"Matt McCarthy's new book, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly, is an honest, beautiful, and terrifying look at what goes into creating a doctor. Filled with very human characters, both doctors and patients alike, Matt's well-paced writing makes it easy to imagine yourself in the shoes of a brand new intern, nervous and afraid, yet still tasked with literal life and death decisions. I would recommend this book to anyone who knows or has been treated by a doctor (so basically everyone)." (Chris Kluwe, author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies)
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