‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year’ by Matt McCarthy

The Real Doctor Will See You ShortlystarstarstarThere are a lot of professions where the real learning happens after we graduate and we begin to field test our education on the job. However, when we think about human error, there are some professions in which we do not want to entertain the thought of any mistakes being made at all. Jobs that come to mind are pilots and air traffic controllers, and of course doctors.

The year of residency or internship for an almost-doctor must be an odd one because technically you are an MD already, but you are still under the care of another physician, thus the title of this book. Matt McCarthy has made himself quite vulnerable, revealing just how much he did learn in his first year of being a physician, while still under the tutelage of others. His story is a unique insight into the medical profession and an interesting inside view into how hospitals are run. It may increase your empathy or scare a stool sample out of you.

This memoir is one man’s view. He tells it with compassion and a sense of humour, and I really enjoyed reading it. It would be interesting for doctors and patients alike. I do wonder whether ‘real doctors’ agree with his portrayal and can resonate with it. And what do you patients think? The medical profession and health care systems seem to be highly criticized everywhere, probably because so much is at stake. But how does that make the health care professionals feel, who labour day and night, often to the detriment of their own health and family life. We circle back to the fact that we are human and every profession is as much an art as it is a science.

2 responses to “‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year’ by Matt McCarthy

  1. This was an engaging read, particularly as I complete my own residency. I thought McCarthy’s portrayal was quite accurate of the teaching hospital environment. I don’t think many patients realize just how much of medicine is learned while on the job. Although McCarthy focuses on the internship year, I’m told by senior physicians that the ‘imposter syndrome’ that he describes never really goes away for doctors, no matter how long you practice for – there is always a feeling of inadequacy and being beyond your depth. I suppose that’s probably a good thing; It means that you still appreciate that seriousness of the work. Yet, it can be challenging on the psyche. But another thing that McCarthy got right was just how rewarding the work can be. To me, it really is the very best job there is.

    P.s. Okay, so maybe I had one little beef about accuracy: the resuscitations described were bang-on for being gruesome and chaotic, but the success rate that happens in the book is far from reality. Most resuscitation efforts are unsuccessful, and hardly any result in the patient being alive enough to leave hospital.

    • Thanks for your honest comments Jason! You confirmed that this was an interesting ‘insider’s’ look at being a health professional–both challenging and rewarding!

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