Learning How the Heart Beats: The Making of a Pediatrician

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Claire McCarthy spent her years as a student at Harvard Medical School and as a resident at Children's Hospital working hard during the day to master her chosen profession and writing late into the night in her journal. Writing helped her understand the dramatic changes she was witnessing in herself and the overwhelming events she was participating in at the hospital each day. Now she helps us understand this mysterious professional metamorphosis by sharing with us twenty-three extraordinary tales from this time ...
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Overview

Claire McCarthy spent her years as a student at Harvard Medical School and as a resident at Children's Hospital working hard during the day to master her chosen profession and writing late into the night in her journal. Writing helped her understand the dramatic changes she was witnessing in herself and the overwhelming events she was participating in at the hospital each day. Now she helps us understand this mysterious professional metamorphosis by sharing with us twenty-three extraordinary tales from this time - tales in which the grueling, humbling, and exhilarating experience of being initiated into the world of medicine becomes personal and unforgettable. With a few deft strokes McCarthy sketches vivid scenes and characters, creating stories that illuminate many aspects of medical training as well as the heartwrenching human dramas that occur every day on a hospital ward. Into this narrative McCarthy weaves her own sensitive insights into the perplexing medical and ethical issues facing us today. She writes with her heart and her head of the difficult choices doctors must make, and of her intense feelings as she watches patients suffer, die, or miraculously recover.

"...the reader witnesses the maturation of a young pediatrician as she attempts to align her own sensitivities within the narrow parameters dictated by an insensitive bureaucracy...the setting is Harvard and Boston's inner city

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When McCarthy describes cradling the body of a premature baby who has just died, few readers will be unaffected. Her preference for working with children (McCarthy has two of her own), combined with the ``optimistic'' nature of pediatrics, with its greater rate of patient recovery, determined her specialty. She writes of her training, of the intense interest, apprehension and satisfaction at each new procedure she learned at Harvard Medical School and during her internship and residency. As a care-giver, McCarthy relates her successes and failures with AIDS babies, abused or neglected children and other youngsters she treats at an inner-city Boston clinic. This moving look into the heart and work of a dedicated physician is based on a series of articles McCarthy wrote for the Boston Globe. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In a series of candid and thought-provoking vignettes, McCarthy traces her career arc from nervous first-year medical student to seasoned third-year resident to practicing pediatrician. We see the process by which she takes on the role of physician, adjusting to unexpected demands and feelings, and how she comes full circle, learning to balance prefessional detachment with personal compassion. Like Perri Klass's Baby Doctor (LJ 6/1/92), McCarthy's book offers insight into the sorrows and joys of caring for sick children and how becoming a mother changed her focus forever. Recommended for all health collections.-Anne C. Tomlin, Auburn Memorial Hosp. Lib., N.Y.
School Library Journal
YA-Why would a Harvard medical student who had just spent a long day in the lab, the clinic, the operating room, or the psychiatric ward spend more hours at a computer recording the events of an emotionally and physically draining day? For this young woman it was therapy; a way to remember the successes, to sort out the confusion, and to ease the sorrow. The grueling study, the exhausting hours in the wards, and the agonizing life-and-death decisions are recounted in compassionate narratives about patients and their families from Boston's inner city and nearby suburbs. An enlightening, inspiring, and sobering view of medical training.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Brenda Grazis
McCarthy presents a sequence of vignettes drawn from patient encounters that constituted an overture to the emotional component of medicine. For example, an elderly Italian man is coerced into a lengthy hospitalization to treat a life-threatening infection. He departs improved in health but wounded in self-concept, "replacing one illness with another," as McCarthy suggests. Or the brain-damaged preemie, saved by heroic measures, who dies shortly before his second birthday, never having left the hospital. The poignancy of the stories is heightened by McCarthy's emotional involvement, such as her private despair over a teenager with leukemia, in the face of the family's unflagging optimism. After the birth of her first child, McCarthy recognizes that she can no longer separate herself sufficiently from the profound suffering that too often befalls both child and parent at the tertiary care level, and she consequently directs her career into primary care pediatrics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670838745
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.71 (h) x 1.01 (d)

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