‘The Real Doctor’ is a real delight

If you need a light read with a dark dose of humor, we’d like to prescribe The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year (*** out of four).

Doctor is the second memoir by Matt McCarthy, who shared his experiences as a minor-league baseball player in 2009’s Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound With a Minor League Misfit. It was around that time he started interning at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center, the first year of which serves as the premise for his new book.

Two weeks out of Harvard Medical School, and fueled by a cocktail of adrenaline and coffee, McCarthy recounts what it’s like to be an idealistic novice who’s thrown into the deep end of a bustling hospital. Working primarily in the cardiac care unit, but dipping his toes into other areas, his days are as varied as sorting through a patient’s fecal matter looking for smuggled drugs, or poking and prodding a dying woman until he can find a vein for her IV. (Thankfully, she lives.)

But as should be expected with any trial by fire, not every situation has a rosy outcome. Worn down by long hours and his failure to connect with patients on a personal level, McCarthy makes his share of rookie mistakes — some, with potentially fatal consequences for the already ill; and one that could impact his own health, in the book’s most surprising turn.

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