In 1972, when the world around him was making little sense, David Sklar left in his senior year of college to volunteer at a community clinic in rural Mexico. With absolutely no medical experience beyond being accepted to medical school at Stanford, Sklar literally learned medicine by practicing it. With duties that ranged from suturing wounds and delivering babies to digging latrines to pulling teeth, his time at the clinic took him into the heart of a medical world that the sterilized walls of the twentieth century would never have shown him. The experience challenged his idealism and, ultimately, molded him into a skilled emergency physician.
Years later, deeply immersed in the stress of running the ER at the University of New Mexico Hospital and facing a divorce, Sklar decided to revisit the Mexican village and clinic that provided inspiration and grounding in the early stages of his career. Weaving together his time in Mexico, his later career, and his marriage, Sklar's memoir offers a thought-provoking meditation on the virtues of idealism in the face of the inevitable failures that haunt all human endeavors.