What does it take to be a frontline healthcare worker? Dedication, perseverance, strength, passion: the standard superlatives of a hero. Add being a nurse in Canada’s northern region and practising medicine as a woman, and the backstory gets more dramatic. From vivid descriptions of the far north to dealing with misogyny in medical school and beyond, Pat Zehr’s poignant memoir is especially relevant today.
By sharing her story, Zehr touches on pressing socio-economic issues, including disparities in healthcare and the ongoing havoc of COVID-19. Zehr’s medical career, first as a nurse and then as an OB-GYN, is both a compelling journey of self-discovery and a lens on issues within the Canadian healthcare system. She shares the challenges of being a frontline worker, advocate, and patient. After decades of providing care, Zehr became debilitated herself and embarked on a new search for treatment that led to a second calling as a yoga instructor.
Compelling vignettes—and a love for The Beatles, whose music serves as a touchstone throughout—celebrate the beauty of remote regions while revealing the toll of providing healthcare and coping with its inherent heartbreak. Zehr doesn’t hold back, whether it’s about mental and physical breakdown (and being a workaholic) or her devotion to The Beatles (and yes, she does have a favourite Beatle).