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Volume 2, Issue 2
Autumn 2006:

In the Foothills of Medicine: A Young Doctor's Journey from the Inner City of Chicago to the Mountains of Nepal by Robert C. McKersie

Review by: An-Lo Yu

Cell 2 Soul. 2006 Autumn; 2(2):a4

iUniverse (2005); 270 Pages; ISBN: 0595363687

In the Foothills of Medicine

In his memoir, In the Foothills of Medicine, Dr. Robert McKersie tells an intimate account of his experiences in his debut as a doctor. Unfettered in his candor, McKersie discusses the angst and the rewards of his occupation, consisting of, among the many aspects of healthcare, unpredictable interactions with patients, the miraculous remedies of faith and spirituality, wanton death, and insurmountable — but, apparently, not impenetrable — bureaucracy. Details of the illnesses and treatments clarify the processes for those of us who are less experienced, while vivid descriptions allow us to become familiar with the patients.

McKersie divulges his concerns as a first year resident at a hospital in inner city Chicago, closely guiding us through his thought patterns. In his desire to help and his discontent with not having universal healthcare coverage in the U.S., he assists his patients in circumventing financial hindrances. Criticizing the medical hierarchy, he expresses his respectful appreciation for nurses, whose positive influences are all too often overlooked.

After completing his second year as a family medicine resident, McKersie sought to mollify his demoralization from having to deal with the many injustices of the U.S. healthcare system. "I wanted the relationship to be based only on the patients' need for care, not on their ability to pay — a relationship where nothing would come between us except for my stethoscope," McKersie proclaims. Thus ensued his first two-week journey through the mountains of Nepal, during which he trekked through remote villages to offer his medical assistance at small, understaffed and undersupplied clinics. Modestly equipped with the basic tools necessary for diagnosis and treatment, the medical team cared for Nepalese patients queued outside the clinics.

This book is appropriate for aspiring healthcare workers who have not had much exposure to the exciting world of medicine. It inspires us to confront ever-present issues of inequality. McKersie has every reason to be proud of his accomplishments as a doctor, his goodwill and his passion for justice are highly respectable and commendable. This is a worthy attempt at disclosing the hardships of becoming a doctor and expressing the author's outcry for a more equitable healthcare system.

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