Chelsea Green Publishing

It's Probably Nothing

More Adventures of a Vermont Country Doctor

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
September 09, 2011

$17.95 $14.36

It's Probably Nothing continues the tale woven by Dr. Beach Conger in his first book, Bag Balm and Duct Tape. This new collection sees Conger and his wife yearning for new challenges and relocating to the suburbs of Philadelphia after 25 years in mythical Dumster, Vermont. Conger gamely takes a job in a teaching hospital in the poorest part of the city and gets to experience urban bureaucratized medicine and its trials- a far cry from the more idiosyncratic and hands-on version he practiced in Vermont. After 5 years Conger and his wife move back to Dumster, where he rediscovers more about his patients' capacity to both cope and cherish one another than he expected.

Each of the tightly constructed chapters is centered around a particular patient or particular theme in medicine. It's Probably Nothing is both funny and poignant, and showcases both Conger's irreverent view into medicine and his profound empathy for the characters he encounters along the way. His experience highlights how medicine-and problems with out current medical system-can remain the same and yet be vastly different across class, race, and region. Among the people the reader meets are urban drag queens, small-town farmers and other heroes, Vermont celebrities, and the occasional reclusive author.


"It's Probably Nothing is actually quite wonderful. With wit and humility, but above all with deep affection, Beach Conger captures perfectly what it is to be a Vermonter. This book is a must-read for doctors and patients alike."--Peter Welch, US Representative, Vermont

"Dr. Beach Conger's It's Probably Nothing is the inspiring tale of a fine and caring physician's life and times in two places that could scarcely be more different: rural Vermont and inner-city Philadelphia. Written with great humor, wisdom, common sense, and compassion, It's Probably Nothing is a uniquely American memoir by a very insightful American individualist. I loved it."--Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg

"Doctor Conger is back again! But this time deeper, warmer, and suffused with the notion that there's no hurry; each Vermont story is too good to be rushed. You can see them coming, but you can't stop ambling with him to the conclusions. It's Probably Nothing is his best collection yet.--Willem Lange, writer, A Yankee Notebook; commentator and host, VPR and NHPTV; author, A Dream of Dragons

Book News-
In this follow-up to his first memoir on practicing in rural Vermont, Harvard Medical School graduate Conger moves from the farm to inner-city Philadelphia, where he treats patients who struggle for food, shelter, and safety. After five years, he returns to the isolated rural community of Dummerston, Vermont. Conger describes humorous encounters with various offbeat patients; on the more serious side, he reflects on problems of our healthcare system. The author now teaches at Dartmouth Medical School.

Whether floundering as a fish out of water in an inner-city Philadelphia hospital or explaining C-reactive protein (CRP) to a patient, if Conger appears to be an iconic iconoclast, so much the better. Because, as a "senior" physician, he is no more likely to allow a superfluous, if expensive, technology to get in the way of his hands-on method of diagnosis than he is to let so trifling a thing as a fact hinder a good yarn. The way he tells it, truth does not suffer facts. And Conger's truth doesn't suffer at all. It is biting where the pompous beg to be taken down; it is wry, witty, and deprecating regarding himself and modern health care; and it is respectful of the patients he tends. Truly a lover of the written word, Conger wraps his stories in language that is loving and engagingly imaginative-for a doctor, that is. By capturing the essence of individuals such as a Norma Lebrec or a C. Frederick Selkirk in his literary embrace, Conger portrays folks we all either know or would like to know.


Beach Conger

Beach Conger, M.D., was born in 1941 in New York City and grew up in Pleasantville, N.Y. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1967 and did his training in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and the University of California San Francisco. From 1969 to 1971 he was an offer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC. From 1977 to 2001, he practiced general internal medicine at Mt. Ascutney Hospital in Windsor, Vermont. He then spent five years teaching hospital medicine at Medical College of Pennsylvanvia and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, serving as chief of hospital medicine at the latter institution. In 2006 he returned to Vermont to practice in Windsor. He is a member of the Dartmouth Medical School faculty, where he precepts medical students in their primary care rotations.


Two Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life - Beach Conger, MD

Beach Conger and It's Probably Nothing


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