Resident and first time author Leslie Racz released her first book, Dr. You on Dec. 19 just in time for Christmas season.
“I’m very excited to put this book out,” said Racz.
The book was written by Racz to both help people maintain their own health and to help them navigate through the healthcare system when they need it.
“I wrote this book out of a felt need for people to have some support and guidance and confidence when they interact with the healthcare system,” she said.
Dr. You fulfills that need that Racz identified through her current work as a patient advocate and her past careers in nursing and massage therapist and cranial sacral therapist.
“The book is a simple guide to how you navigate the health care system,” she said.
She has 20 years’ experience as an acute care nurse which includes time working at the Foothills hospital in Calgary in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and emergency departments. She also spent four years with STARS Air Ambulance as a flight nurse.
After nursing, Racz transitioned into a 26-year-long career as a massage therapist.
It was in this career that she started to realize that people often need help to navigate the healthcare system.
People who knew she had been a nurse would call her to ask for advice with their healthcare system issues.
“I find when people know I do patient advocacy, everybody has a story,” she said.
She would even be asked for advice from her massage therapy clients about how to best interact with the system to meet their healthcare needs.
“I realized from there, there was a need to write this down and reach out,” said Racz.
The book is written with two areas of focus.
“The first part of the book talks about empowering people to take their health into their own hands and how to do that,” said Racz.
She wants people to realize that they are their own best doctor.
“You’ve lived in your body the longest so therefore…those little gut feelings of something’s wrong usually are true,” she said.
This second half gives advice on how to find a good family doctor, how to escalate a concern through the system and how to move along a wait list.
“The second part of the book gives those handy tips on how to navigate,” said Racz.
She has tried to guide the reader in learning the best ways to access healthcare when they need.
“Learning the rules of the game,” she said, “the booking clerk books the appointments, the nurse looks after the medical side of things and the doctor is, of course, the consultant.”
The family doctor is the conventional access point to the healthcare system but there are many unconventional points of access as well.
She tries to work with both the conventional and unconventional routes.
Racz hopes her book will help people to be more comfortable and confidant in their interaction with the healthcare system.
“Things that are quite relevant to the everyday person trying to get through our very complicated healthcare system,” she said.
Healthcare professionals work very hard for their patients, the problem in healthcare come from the difficulties in communication and from the overloaded pressures on the system.
“It’s just hard, there’s a communication gap, there’s an overload on the system, processes break down.
So I’m there to fill in those gaps,” she said.
The advice in the book applies to healthcare across Canada, not specifically Alberta and Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“Some of the stats and numbers…are specific to Alberta and I footnote that in the book,” she said.
In the resource section of the book Racz has put each provinces’ significant healthcare links.
Dr. You got its start about five years ago, when Racz started writing down some of her tips collected through her patient advocacy work.
It was only over the past 18 months the Racz started to focus on bringing that advice together in the form of a book.
Originally she wrote it as a chapter book with real examples from people she had helped.
“Then I decided people don’t have time for that anymore, they want the quick and easy tips to read,” she said.
At 100 pages long with a casual conversational style of writing Racz believes she has succeeded in writing a book that is easy to read and reference when one needs to.
“I had no idea what a monumental process it would be to write a book,” she said.
Racz credits her friend Patrick Bergen as being instrumental in helping her get Dr. You to print.
Dr. You is selling for $20 and is available online at Racz’s website www.dryou.me or by calling her at 403-608-3716.
She is also planning a series of book launches for the new year. Further details will be posted to her website as they are available.