Score: 96/100 (9.6 out of 10)
“The Making of a Physician” is a solid book by Harry L. Graber, M.D. F.A.C.C., a cardiologist who dedicated his life to doing God's will in helping people to live healthier, longer lives. Not only does it include Dr. Graber's storied life journey, but it also includes the incredible life journeys of several physicians with whom he'd crossed paths.
Dr. Graber was instrumental in the research that led to the discovery that heart disease—the leading cause of death in America—was largely genetic and hereditary, passed down through a gene mutation. Therefore, heart disease could be screened and precautions could be taken to protect patients who were predisposed to the disease. Could you imagine if research by Dr. Graber and his associates had not surfaced? It is very likely that we wouldn't have seen the rise in popularity of the Atkins Diet by Dr. Robert Atkins (also a cardiologist) or the influential works by Gary Taubes. And the books and research by Udo Erasmus may not have come to be. But we digress. That's a part of the book, but far from all-encompassing. This book isn't about science or medicine or even medical research. This is a book about incredible people who answered God's calling to help their fellow human beings in their most dire times: the making of physicians.
Some people believe that you have to be “born special” or have some sort of natural gift to be a doctor. But Dr. Graber and his contributors constantly point out that it's not a superpower that gives them the ability to be what they are and do what they do, it's a state of mind—an attitude—to help, to nurture, to sacrifice, and to care.
Dr. Graber and many of his contributors did not grow up in a family of medical professionals. In fact, Dr. Graber was a farmer boy. He helped his family to care for animals on the farm from conception to death. This taught him such things as discipline, hard work and how to care for other living things. It also made him comfortable with dealing with more challenging elements of healthcare like blood, amniotic fluid, urine and fecal matter. The young Dr. Graber was also someone who loved sports and aspired to be an athlete, sometimes running three miles to school every day just to get to practice. His path to becoming a physician was not straight or narrow. It seemed like everyone expected him to become a teacher, which he eventually became. He was also held out of school/college by his father who hoped he'd find real work that actually paid—a 9 to 5 job. When he finally went to college and finally got a job as a teacher, he was caught in that hamster wheel for years, so much so that the school district just about refused to let him move on to pursue his dream of studying medicine and becoming a doctor.
The young Dr. Graber was sickly, and he had a reputation as the town's sick boy who might not live very long. His Christian family even held prayer meetings with members of the faith to pray for his health. His mother changed his life by promising God that if her son lived, she would dedicate his life to him. Learning about that promise gave the young Dr. Graber's life purpose, and he took it to heart.
Dr. Graber's life story is full of leaps of faith and taking calculated risks. There's was even a moment in which, in the middle of his residency, he was called and offered a chance to start a clinic with two other physicians in the middle of nowhere—a town he'd never even heard of. What would you do? Rather than dismissing this call, Dr. Graber promised to call them back when he had more information and weigh his options. He made a deal with them that he would do it for one year to help them get started, go back to complete his residency, and return in another capacity. It's said he made only a few dollars his first day at the clinic, and most of it from patients who just wanted to meet “the new kid in town.”
Something else we really found special was his relationship with his wife, Roberta. Dr. Graber had various partners throughout his life, including a beautiful, athletic professional roller skater, but something about Roberta clicked. Roberta stood as an example of a woman who supported her husband's mission and calling without exploiting it for her own gain. She didn't want to be known as “Dr. Graber's wife” just to get favors from people or be seen as “greater” because of it. She was humble, supportive, and loving. Dr. Graber warns the reader that you should find a partner like that, not just based on good looks or status, but someone who has the character traits that will help (not hinder) you in reaching your goal. You sometimes need to let go of toxic people or people who are just weighing you down or holding you back—don't be mean or cruel about it, just break it to them gently and move on.
As great as Dr. Graber's story is, the reader is then treated to a series of other extraordinary ones by other physicians. One of our favorites was the story of Dr. Glen E. Miller. It turns out this man grew up as one of nine children during the Great Depression and also lived through World War II, eventually serving in the Korean War. He was a Mennonite, and that upbringing taught him things like the importance of honesty, integrity, discipline, and hard work. He served in Haiti, working with some of the poorest people in the world, and eventually visited over 40 countries.
Another of our favorite stories is that of Dr. Vincent Petno, mainly for the reason that he got signed by the Oakland Raiders, and not only was he signed by the Oakland Raiders, he had the guts to tell them that if his medical career took off, he would pursue that as well.
We also hear a lot about these doctors' legendary colleague, Dr. Charles F. Wooley, who obviously meant a lot to every other major contributor to this book. They talk about him with great reverence. What a man Dr. Wooley was! He played high school football against a team led by none other than Vince Lombardi when he was just a high school football coach in 1940s! He was also the doctor to legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes! Above and beyond rubbing shoulders with sporting legends, Dr. Wooley was an inspiration to his colleagues, friends and families.
Lastly, we wanted to talk about the section written by Dr. Graber's (the author's) son, Dr. Rodney L. Graber. Yes, he also became a doctor! Something beautiful about Rodney's section is that he constantly compares life to seasons: you have time when it's terrible and turbulent like a winter storm or the dying leaves of autumn, and you have times when it's fun and happy like summer or spring. We really loved that analogy.
Check out this incredible book on Amazon today!