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Book Reviews Review: Dr. Martina Scholtens’s Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist opens up the world of refugee health care in Canada

Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist: A Doctor Reflects on Ten Years at a Refugee Clinic

By Dr. Martina Scholtens

Brindle & Glass, 224 pages, $22

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From 2005 to 2015, Dr. Martina Scholtens worked as a family doctor at Bridge Refugee Clinic in Vancouver – British Columbia's only clinic dedicated to initial health assessment and primary care for refugees. Her memoir recounting the lessons she learned treating patients from around the globe is the first book by a Canadian doctor on the subject of refugee health in Canada. It is both an eye-opening account for Canadians wanting to understand the challenges facing refugees and a strong argument for refugee health, including mental health, to receive dedicated treatment and funding. Refugee health poses specific challenges: Many patients suffer the after-effects of trauma while also navigating different cultural expectations in everything from sexual and reproductive health to mental health and preventive care. Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist is also about the person in the white coat: a mother trying to find balance between the personal and professional, and a doctor whose patients expanded her notions of what a doctor should be.

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