Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 241

No Apparent Distress: A Doctor's Coming of Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine is a nonfiction book by Rachel Pearson, MD. The book is part-memoir, but also a searing thesis on the dysfunction and inequality in the medical system.

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The main thesis, or theme, in the book is the medical system's treatment of the underprivileged. In the book, Dr. Pearson states that large hospitals and medical centers give higher-quality treatment to those who are affluent, whilst the poor, and mostly minorities, receive sub-par healthcare. This inequality quite possibly stems from capitalism as a whole, but more specifically from the fact that private hospitals and clinics are businesses. Although medical professionals take the Hippocratic Oath, the medical system is just like any other business venture that aims to earn profits.

The title of the book is a reference to No Apparent Distress (N.A.D.), which is a patient health status jotted down by medical professionals who observe that the patient appears to be in stable condition. However, in the context of the book's thesis, the term can also apply to the deceiving facade covering up the issues in the medical system.

In the book, Dr. Pearson also relates personal anecdotes—such as the suicide of a close friend—as well as finding fulfillment whilst working in a free public clinic. The latter illustrates the antithesis and possible antidote to the issue of unequal healthcare quality in the medical system.

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