The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy
  • Title: The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly
  • Subtitle: A Physician's First Year
  • Author(s): Matt McCarthy
  • Publisher: Crown
  • Year: 2015-04-07
  • ISBN-10: 0804138664
  • ISBN-13: 9780804138666


The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” by Matt McCarthy is a gripping and candid memoir that takes readers on a rollercoaster journey through McCarthy’s first year as a medical intern at one of the top hospitals in the United States. With raw honesty and a sharp wit, McCarthy exposes the challenges, triumphs, and overwhelming pressure that young doctors face as they transition from medical school to real-life patient care.

McCarthy skillfully captures the intense workload and sleepless nights that plague medical interns, shedding light on the demanding training process they undergo. From his initial struggles with self-doubt and constant fear of making mistakes, McCarthy emerges as a relatable and empathetic protagonist. Through anecdotes and real-life scenarios, he vividly portrays the emotional toll and moral dilemmas that doctors encounter, giving readers a glimpse into the complex world of medicine.

While “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the healthcare system, it also underscores the importance of compassion and human connection in the field of medicine. McCarthy’s encounters with patients, each with their unique stories and struggles, provide poignant reminders of the significance of treating patients not just as cases but as individuals. With its blend of humor, humility, and profound insights, this book is an enlightening and memorable read for anyone interested in the medical profession or the human side of healthcare.


Book Review

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year - A Remarkable Journey into Medicine

In “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year,” Matt McCarthy offers a captivating and often raw account of his experiences as a medical intern. This memoir takes readers on an intimate journey through McCarthy’s first year at one of the nation’s top hospitals, providing a unique glimpse into the challenges, triumphs, and ethical dilemmas faced by young doctors. McCarthy’s compelling storytelling, self-deprecating humor, and insightful observations make this book a must-read for anyone interested in medicine or the human side of healthcare.

The Demanding Life of a Medical Intern: McCarthy masterfully conveys the intense pressures and demanding workload that medical interns face. Through his vivid descriptions, readers get an unfiltered understanding of grueling overnight shifts, endless documentation, and the constant fear of making potentially life-altering mistakes. In one poignant moment, McCarthy writes, “The job is to absorb information and take care of very sick people, to balance the intellectual and emotional challenges of caring for patients in unprecedented situations when your training has barely begun.”

McCarthy’s honesty and vulnerability are evident as he openly shares his initial struggles with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. This makes him an incredibly relatable protagonist, and readers can empathize with his journey as he learns to navigate the complexities of patient care. As the narrative unfolds, McCarthy’s growth as a doctor becomes evident, highlighting the transformative power of experience and reflection.

Insightful Reflections and Ethical Dilemmas: What sets this memoir apart is McCarthy’s ability to candidly address the moral dilemmas that physicians encounter daily. He raises thought-provoking questions around patient autonomy, end-of-life decisions, and the delicate balance between treating individuals and following protocol. McCarthy’s encounters with patients provide powerful examples of these ethical struggles, demonstrating the immense emotional toll they take on doctors.

One particularly poignant example is McCarthy’s experience with an elderly patient named Mrs. Peterson. McCarthy grapples with the ethical conundrum of invasive procedures and prolonged suffering versus respecting the patient’s wishes for a dignified death. Through this narrative, the author highlights the importance of not just seeing patients as cases but as individuals with their own desires and fears. McCarthy underscores the vital role of empathy and compassion in the healthcare profession, reminding readers of the fundamental purpose of medicine.

Beyond the Medical World: While “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly” delves into the intricacies of the medical profession, McCarthy also explores the importance of human connection beyond the clinical setting. He showcases the profound impact that personal stories and moments of vulnerability can have on both doctors and patients alike. McCarthy describes encounters with patients from all walks of life, each with their unique struggles, and these experiences serve as powerful reminders that empathy and understanding are as crucial as medical expertise.

Furthermore, McCarthy’s writing is infused with a dose of self-deprecating humor, providing much-needed comic relief amidst the intense subject matter. His wit and ability to find levity in challenging situations make the book an enjoyable read, even when tackling difficult topics.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” is an eye-opening and deeply insightful memoir that offers an unfiltered view of the medical field. McCarthy’s candid storytelling draws readers into the challenging world of medical training and patient care. By sharing his own doubts, growth, and ethical struggles, McCarthy not only humanizes the medical profession but also prompts readers to consider the complexities and moral dilemmas that physicians face daily. This memoir is a captivating testament to the indomitable spirit of doctors and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion and empathy in healthcare.

Word Count: 640

The patient-doctor relationship is essential to the practice of medicine. As much as the patients need the doctors, the doctors need the patients.

Key Ideas

Key ideas in “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” by Matt McCarthy include:

  1. The demanding and transformative nature of medical internship McCarthy provides a vivid and honest account of the intense workload, sleep deprivation, and emotional strain that medical interns endure during their first year. Through his own experiences, he emphasizes the immense growth and maturation that occurs as doctors navigate the challenges of patient care and the steep learning curve of medical practice.

  2. The significance of empathy and human connection in medicine McCarthy highlights the importance of seeing patients not just as cases, but as individuals with their own unique stories and struggles. He demonstrates how the ability to connect with patients on a human level can positively impact their overall experience and care. McCarthy underscores the notion that medicine is not just about medical knowledge and technical skills, but also about understanding and addressing the emotional needs of patients.

  3. The moral dilemmas and ethical considerations in healthcare Throughout the book, McCarthy grapples with various ethical dilemmas, such as respecting a patient’s wishes, end-of-life decisions, and the balance between following protocols and providing the best individualized care. These instances serve as thought-provoking examples of the complex decisions doctors face and emphasize the need for empathy, open communication, and sensitivity in navigating such situations.

  4. The importance of self-reflection and personal growth McCarthy’s introspective narrative reveals the value of self-reflection and continuous learning in the medical profession. He acknowledges his own shortcomings and mistakes, showcasing the importance of humility and a willingness to learn from experiences. McCarthy’s personal growth throughout his intern year not only reflects his journey, but also reinforces the notion that becoming a good doctor is a continuous process of self-improvement.

  5. The impact of humor and resilience in the face of adversity McCarthy incorporates humor and wit into his storytelling, providing much-needed levity amidst the serious subject matter. His ability to find humor during difficult moments underscores the resilience and coping mechanisms that doctors develop in order to navigate the challenges of the medical field.

In summary, “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly” explores the demanding life of a medical intern, highlighting the importance of empathy, ethical considerations, self-reflection, and resilience in the medical profession. McCarthy offers a compelling and personal account that both enlightens and humanizes the realities of being a physician.


Target Audience

The book “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” by Matt McCarthy is targeted at a wide audience interested in gaining insight into the world of medicine and healthcare. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Aspiring and Current Medical Students The book offers a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by medical interns, providing a valuable glimpse into the transition from medical school to practice. It offers an honest perspective on the demanding workload, ethical dilemmas, and emotional upheavals that doctors-in-training may encounter. This audience will find inspiration, encouragement, and practical insights from McCarthy’s experiences.

  • Healthcare Professionals The book appeals to healthcare professionals across various fields who can relate to the pressures and dilemmas that McCarthy highlights. It serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, compassion, and human connection in the healthcare setting. By sharing his own vulnerabilities and struggles, McCarthy encourages healthcare professionals to reflect on their own practices and consider the emotional well-being of both patients and themselves.

  • Patients and Their Families “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly” provides a unique opportunity for patients and their loved ones to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by physicians. Through McCarthy’s personal stories and ethical dilemmas, readers are invited to see the emotional complexities behind medical decisions and the dedication that doctors bring to patient care. This can foster greater empathy and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers.

  • General Readers Interested in Medicine and Healthcare Even those without a medical background will find this book engaging and informative. McCarthy’s storytelling and witty writing style make the subject matter accessible to a broader audience. The book expands the reader’s understanding of the medical profession, highlighting the sacrifice, dedication, and personal growth required to become a doctor.

In conclusion, “The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year” is recommended reading for aspiring doctors, healthcare professionals, patients and their families, as well as general readers interested in medicine. McCarthy’s compelling storytelling and candid reflections provide a unique window into the challenges, triumphs, and ethical complexities of healthcare, making this memoir an enlightening and worthwhile read for a diverse audience.

Fair Use Disclaimer

This book review may contain excerpts and references from the reviewed work, used under the doctrine of fair use. The purpose is to provide a critical analysis, commentary, and evaluation of the book. The use of these excerpts is done for non-commercial and educational purposes, aimed at fostering discussion and understanding. The author acknowledges the original copyright holder's rights and asserts that the use of such material is transformative, adding value through the inclusion of informed opinions and insights. This review intends to comply with the principles of fair use under copyright law and does not seek to infringe upon the author's or publisher's rights.

© 2023