CASEBOOK OF A COMMUNITY INTERNIST Hector M. Baillie FriesenPress (294 pp.) ISBN: 978-1039167643 June 6, 2023 $35.99 hardcover, $20.99 paperback, $5.99 e-book Kirkus BOOK REVIEW "A veteran physician shares the bounty of his experiences caring for Canadian patients in this medical memoir. Baillie, a cardiac internist for “over 35 years” based in rural British Columbia, begins his book with an appreciation for the art of shared storytelling in medicine. Embedded in his tales are lessons about life, health care, and the intricacies of the human experience. While most readers will acknowledge the years of medical school necessary to become a physician, the author writes that a formal education is only one aspect of a good clinician, admitting that his “patients taught me most of what I know.” Despite its medical terminology, the memoir is easily digested and consists of clipped chapters, most only a few pages long. They feature anecdotes about the author’s life in clinical practice, from stories of his medical school training in Glasgow to his vivid observations, opinions, experiences, and case studies as a provider. The addition of references and medical glossaries make the book ideal for readers who want to further investigate the clinical diagnoses cited. Chief complaints like atrial fibrillation, angina, meningococcus, asthma, obesity, cancer, and the challenges of Covid-19 coalesce into greater points of wisdom on the importance of consistently demonstrating compassion and kindness to patients. He laments that modern practices promote time-crunched, swiftly conducted appointments, which don’t allow physicians to “see beyond the chronic” ailment and discover the real patient behind the malady. While the memoir suffers from a haphazard organization, it doesn’t diminish the great amount of practical life lessons readers will glean from Baillie’s clinical experiences as he appreciates “the richness of the profession, the humour needed to survive, and the countless challenges that we face with every patient interaction.” The author’s captivating perspectives and frank opinions delightfully demonstrate an obvious commitment to medicine, and those moments form the book’s most engaging material. He’s honest about being a staunch advocate for patient rights; health care system changes that improve quality; and the deliverance of compassionate care, especially for older people. Reflecting on his decades as a cardiologist, Baillie asserts that he has made peace with the often solitary art of medicine and thanks the patients he’s treated for making his livelihood intriguing and rewarding. An absorbing account of clinical passion and dedication from a doctor with remarkable stories."
Casebook of a Community Internist embodies the compassion, expertise, and wisdom we've come to know in this remarkable physician. The stories have a lovely balance of humanity and clinical care, with adequate explanations for everyone to enjoy and learn about medicine. There are healthy doses of humour and healing which offset the tragedies so often encountered in healthcare. Common sense advice is prevalent throughout. Those contemplating a medical career or just curious about human health will find the book difficult to put down. And the Casebook offers a gold-standard answer to the many who have asked about the kind of medicine internists practice! Remarkable are the innovations and advances that Dr. Baillie brought to his communities; he has touched the hearts of many.
Jeffrey P Schaefer MD MSc FRCPC FACP General Internist and Clinical Professor of Medicine