Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 419
In her memoir-style book, Pearson examines the state of medicine in the United States in general as she shares her personal experiences with education, disappointment, need, tragedy, and regulations in the medical field.
Pearson came from a working-class family and has empathy for the less privileged. Early in life, when she went on a trip with a friend's family, she was awakened to the different classes in society:
The skiing trip was my first real introduction to how the other half lives.
Pearson is passionate about treating the underprivileged and minorities, but she is frustrated with the nation's system, which cannot meet the needs of many. She asks,
Why diagnose people if we can’t make sure they will get treatment?
Pearson witnessed challenges and heartache during her training at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). She describes how one cancer surgeon, Susan, was forced to stop treating some of her patients due to insufficient equipment and funds after Hurricane Ike hit: “It was January when Susan’s patients began to die.” Tragically, the medical branch had told her patients that Susan would be "discontinuing her professional relationship" with them because UTMB lacked the chemotherapy and radiation the patients needed.
What is a surgeon without her operating room? What does a good doctor do when the institution she works for compels her to abandon patients who obviously need her help?
While working in a poor neighborhood of Galveston which was devastated by the hurricane, Pearson was initially "under the impression that there was a safety net." She thought there would be support coming to help the ailing. However, a fellow med student later stated, "I didn’t realize that we were the safety net.”
Pearson writes in a personal manner and expresses her sentiments without being too dramatic. She discusses her early work with women, even controversial abortions, which led her to pursue medicine, as she is concerned with "the suffering that women go through."
She is especially troubled by Texas not expanding medicaid:
The Texas border is a cervical cancer hot spot with the highest rates in the nation.
Latina women are twice as likely to die of cervical cancer than white women living in the same county.
She also openly shares her concerns with the mandates of some states which require doctors to report receiving any psychiatric care, for she herself struggled with depression. She believes that such mandates place doctors at risk, for they "[drive] a suicide-prone population away from the help we may need."