ON CALL: Three Doctors on the Frontlines by Jane Carpineto

ON CALL: Three Doctors on the Frontlines

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Soft-focus profiles of three physicians by a former social worker whose previous book, R.N. (1992), flatteringly profiled three nurses. Although written in a livelier style than R.N., this book is similarly flawed by the author's unwillingness to risk offending anyone in probing a subject too deeply. The objects of Carpineto's gentle scrutiny here are Yvonne Gomez-Carrion, a young black obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at a community health center in Roxbury, Mass.; Barbara Jean Coopes, a young pediatrician specializing in intensive care at Boston City Hospital; and James Menzoian, a middle-aged vascular surgeon at Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center. Carpineto asserts that although they are not representative of doctors in general, they are typical Boston doctors in that each combines the roles of clinician, academician, and part-time administrator. All have first-rate intellects and a singular measure of self-discipline, according to Carpineto, and she shows them to be dedicated and skilled physicians. It is their professional life that the author concentrates on, but glimpses of their personal lives are provided. While the work of doctors can certainly be intriguing to the layperson, there's nothing especially fascinating or unusual about the situations presented here. Why she selected these particular physicians is not revealed, and the book's purpose remains unclear. In an epilogue, Carpineto gathers her three subjects in a room and asks for their opinions about various health care issues, such as the need for more primary care physicians, the changing role of nurses, insurance reform, and managed competition. Her conclusion is that, for doctors as well as for patients, the times they are a-changing. An innocuous, blurry account that will be of interest primarily to loyal fans of books about doctors.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1994
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's