Book review: Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 1, January, February 2018, page(s) 56 Pulsimeter
Yvonne Sin, MD

Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist
By Martina Scholtens, MD. Brindle & Glass Publishing, 2017. ISBN 978-1-927366-68-4. 224 pages.

Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist: A Doctor Reflects on Ten Years at a Refugee Clinic is a captivating reflection of Dr Scholtens’ work at a Canadian refugee clinic, interwoven with stories from her personal life. The stories reflect her journey as a doctor caring for newly arrived refugees, their struggles with navigating the Canadian health care system, and the challenges faced when trying to practise cultural humility in medicine. She also parallels her work as a physician to her personal life as she talks about maintaining this delicate balance.

Some of the highlights include following an Iraqi family as each member transitions to living in Canada, and how she plays a role in each of their medical journeys. When a young Congolese woman is diagnosed with HIV, the story provides insight into the blurring boundaries of medicine and spirituality. Several stories highlight what being a physician entails, including being a healer, advocate, and educator, and often going above and beyond for your patients.

The writing is honest and powerful, the details of each story recalled with care and understanding. Some stories make you laugh at times, while others call for reflection on what we take for granted, such as freedom, safety, and access to health care.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially from a primary-care point of view. I urge anyone interested in primary care or refugee health, along with anyone who would like an honest view about providing culturally sensitive health care, to give this book a read.
—Yvonne Sin, MD