May 29, 2015

Dr. Matt McCarthy Hits a Homerun



Matt McCarthy started his adult life trying to make it big in the Major League Baseball scene but never made it past the minor leagues.  He opted, instead, to enter medical school and that is where he found his calling in life.  This is his second book and it spans a year in the life of an intern at Colombia Medical.  He is looking back at his intern year for us from the position of Doctor, writer and teacher now.  The lessons he learned were invaluable for him.

His story begins with a patient who suffers from an heart attack and is rushed to Colombia's emergency room on his first day on the job.  The very first patient he sees in the hospital begins the process of shaping who Dr. McCarthy would become.  McCarthy is very candid about the big events and the people in his pathway that shaped him drastically in his first year.  He shares it all... the good, the bad, and the ugly. He spares no embarrassing moments as he moves through a very hard, yet very rewarding, year.   He changes so much over that year in a very dynamic way.  

I do not typically pounce on medical memoirs but this one grabbed me with that great cover and I was hooked from the very first page.  I hand selected this book after reading a quick overview and it did not disappoint. As a huge fan of medical dramas it reads much like a personal account of House, MD, at times, as the interns and their mentors bantered diagnostic options around.  It plays out like Grey's Anatomy at other times with the relational and emotional situations that arise daily in the hospital.  On occasion it even resembles the banter and humor of SCRUBS.  It made me laugh, squirm, wince, and cry among other emotions as I moved through the patients stories and how he connected with those around him.  I suspect it would be a great read for anyone entering med school but as a lay person I just enjoyed the excellent writing and storytelling for which McCarthy has a real gift.  

As a patient of many doctors over the years it gave me a different perspective on the lives that physicians live and a greater respect for what they have accomplished through their extensive education.  It also made me a bit nervous about having an intern in their early days of practicing in a teaching hospital.  They are literally learning on the go from one minute to the next and someone has to be their "first" for all the procedures and diagnosis they encounter.  It is definitely a high stress adrenaline rush job according to McCarthy.  

Just a head's up for my friends who like a more gentle read.  It is a bit "sweary" with some language some of us do not use but it was such a great story telling effort that I moved through it and loved the book very much.  It is not a bloody gory mess.  He tells each story with great consideration for the reader and deep respect for the patients and doctors that are mentioned in this book.  

The chapter structure is also set up to be able to take it in in small bites but I often got to the end of a chapter and was dragged, very willingly, into the next one to see how things progressed or resolved.  It was never dull... that is for sure!

If you like medical dramas you will love this real life drama/memoir.  I highly recommend this book!

I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Read more about Dr. McCarthy on his website.

For complete disclosure you will need to know that I am part of the team at Blogging for Books and that they allowed me to select this from a list of books they offer for review.  The book cost me nothing in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

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