The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year

by Matt McCarthy

(Crown/Archtype, $27, 336 pages)

Who is this author?

Matt McCarthy, once a pitcher on Yale’s baseball team, got his first best-seller with Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, about his brief experience with the Provo Angels, the minor league team of the 2002 Anaheim Angels. He abandoned (probably wisely) baseball for medicine and is now an assistant professor of medicine at Cornell and a staff physician at Weill Cornell Medical Center. His writing has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Slate, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Deadspin, where he writes the Medspin column.

What is this book about?

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly puts us right into one of the most stressful career situations imaginable: a medical internship. Despite his lofty ambitions to become a caring and cool-headed doctor, McCarthy nearly lost his first cardiac care patient during his first night on call. This often scary, often hilariously funny memoir captures the tensions and opportunities that on-the-job training offers those with the smarts and stamina to make it through, and is a valuable insider’s look at what goes into the making of a competent doctor. Among other worthy insights: savvy doctors learn as much from their patients as they do from their teachers.

Why you’ll like it:

You’ve no doubt heard that it is best to stay out of hospitals during the summer, when the new crop of interns dons stethoscopes and start making decisions based on schooling but not hands-on experience. Matt McCarthy takes us into that world and, with honesty and a great deal of humor, shows why that advice can be true. Books that offer an insider’s perspective are often delightful; this one may also help readers understand how medicine does and does not work these days: invaluable knowledge.

What others are saying:

Publishers Weekly says: “McCarthy follows his controversial tell-all about his brief baseball career, Odd Man Out, with an account of his grueling first-year internship at one of New York’s premier hospitals. Here, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital attending doctor is hardest on himself: he expresses guilt over a missed diagnosis with his first patient, coldly brought to his attention by the patient’s angry primary doctor, and learns a sobering lesson about the doctor-patient relationship from a patient awaiting a heart transplant. Along the way, he is guided by others, such as the second-year resident who gives him the tough love and experience required to make it through a rotation in the Cardiac Care Unit, the “real doctor” at the hospital’s clinic who helps him make independent—though not always perfect—decisions, and the physician who teaches him that through medicine “it is possible to reach the unreachable.” McCarthy’s story is one of transformation. “I felt different now because I was different,” he writes. “I was looking out for my patients, not myself.” McCarthy’s growth will seem familiar to everyone traveling a path of self-discovery.”

“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,” says Chris Kluwe, former Minnesota Vikings football player and author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.

“Well-written and brutally honest, Dr. McCarthy’s engrossing memoir of his internship year is told with uncommon frankness and perception. The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly is one of the most powerful books about a doctor-in-training I have ever read. The author vividly describes the crushing emotional and physical demands a young doctor must face, and he does so with consummate skill and compassion. A marvelous book,” says Michael Collins, author of Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs.

Library Journal says: “Author of the best-selling Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, Harvard Medical School grad McCarthy delivers a sometimes raucous, sometimes moving story of his year as an intern at a New York hospital. Between nearly losing a patient the first day and befriending a man awaiting a new heart, McCarthy learned what it’s like to deal with real patients instead of just textbooks, formulas, and cadavers.”

When is it available?

No need for a waiting room here: this book is available at the Downtown Hartford Public Library.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!

Comments are closed.