A memoir by a Navy physician whose patients were U.S. presidents and their families.
Rising up the ranks from captain to rear admiral during her service at the White House, Dr. Mariano was the first woman and first Filipino-American to become the physician to a president and the director of the White House medical unit. She writes of her experiences with humor and justifiable pride. This is no fly-on-the-wall tell-all, although she does comment on the “tall, slender, long-haired beauties” who used to preen in front of President Clinton—they were called “POTUS bait” by the staff. While there were only minor alarms and excitements during her nine years on the job—Bush I’s last year and Clinton’s two terms—she faced some challenging moments and passed with flying colors through tough security-training exercises, countermanding her former boss’s instructions when he refused to relinquish his job and brushing off snide remarks that she benefited from a personal relationship with the president. Though she was the “wrong sex, wrong color, even wrong height [and] didn’t look like the stereotypical White House doctor,” Mariano persevered, with special help from the “silent servant class at the White House…the people of every day attended to the leader of the free world in his private quarters.” As director of the medical unit, she instituted a number of changes to improve the standard of care, including 24/7 on-site medical staffing and updated treatment protocols. She traveled with more than 130 overseas presidential trips and many times worked grueling hours, making the painful choice to sacrifice her own family time to serve two first families. Her retirement from the Navy in 2001 was simultaneously a time of celebration and sadness.
An interesting, behind-the-scenes glimpse of life at the White House.