WHITE COAT, CLENCHED FIST: The Political Education of an American Physician by

WHITE COAT, CLENCHED FIST: The Political Education of an American Physician

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mullan, a doctor who questions the traditional practice of American medicine, explores his own education and describes his part in an experiment designed to transform hospital care. With roots in Mississippi Summer, SDS, and the Student Health Organization, Mullan found that medical schools exploit the poor and perpetuate a double standard of public and private treatment. During his internship he found others who shared his concern for public hospital care; they recruited like-minded interns and residents intent on ""practicing medicine. . . to effect social change."" In July 1970 the Pediatric Collective began in the Bronx at Lincoln Hospital, a dilapidated, turn-of-the-century structure known as The Butcher Shop. Strongly anti-authoritarian, the Collective immediately locked horns with a highly authoritarian department head and made headlines; Soon he was replaced by a more sympathetic, egalitarian administrator. But even as morale and medical services improved, problems spiraled beyond the usual palace intrigues, leading to the unfortunate excesses of ""moralistic overkill and radical oneupmanship"" within the Collective itself. Personal interests and philosophical weaknesses led to the group's gradual dissolution over the next few years, and neglect and shortages at Lincoln (even in a new building) continue into today's newspaper. Dr. Mullan and his former colleagues maintain their commitment to good care for all, working in public health jobs elsewhere. An open, highly personal account of a special experiment, written with a sensitivity to the vagaries of political activism and the benefit of hindsight.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1976
Publisher: Macmillan