There are quite a few reasons to read “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy. This true story, names changed to protect the innocent, or at least the HIPPA laws, is at first woefully scary. But as it continues, the fear that while Harvard book educated, this doctor is somewhat incompetent in the hands-on world of a hospital.
As you continue reading, his abilities get better and better, but it is so much more than that and those are the 4 reasons to read this book.
(1) To know the value of Hands-On Learning
When Dr. Matthew McCarthy graduated from medical school, he was an extremely well-educated man. He had all of the book-knowledge of medicine that could be crammed into 4 years. He did not, however, know how to make a diagnosis or treat patients. And let’s face it, you can’t really refer to a book when someone shows up at the Emergency Room having a heart attack.
Hands-on learning is vital to learning. An absolute necessity. And why in the world Americans still think that learning from a book is supreme, I’ll never know. But, trust me, if you read this book you will become a true believer.
(2) To grasp Sympathy
A few trips out on the streets with a highly respected physician to search for, find and treat homeless patients and McCarthy came to realize that sympathy for those he treated was paramount. Not only to show sympathy to those who were dressed well, smelled clean and had all their wits about them, but to never judge a person by his or her status in the world.
How much better would this world be if we all took a lesson like this to heart?
(3) To understand Empathy
It was only after a chance encounter that McCarthy came to understand completely why HIV patients many times stop taking their medications, even though they know that the disease will quickly begin to destroy their bodies and their lives. It is something he cannot fully explain to others, but his understanding led him to be a much more effective and much better physician because he could empathize with those he served.
This was not the only event that led him down that path, there is also another patient who spends McCarthy’s entire intern year in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) waiting for a heart. This man teaches McCarthy more about being a caregiver than any class he ever took.
(4) It is a really good book.
When I began this book I kept reading because I was so amazed at how little McCarthy knew about taking care of patients and I was actually appalled at his lack of ability. The more I read, the more I became invested not only in McCarthy but in the patients in his care, especially the ones who were constant and/or recurrent. I found myself worrying over them, scared for them and willing them to be better.
I also found myself really pulling for McCarthy. Perhaps it is because my father is a doctor and I saw him in the lead worrying about patients, trying to learn all of the ins and outs and how to be a good doctor, but most importantly a great caregiver.
There are stories of survival and stories of loss. There are stories of hope and stories of devastation. But most importantly, they are all stories of compassion. And that is something we all need. This really is a good book and I highly recommend you read it.