There’s No Place Like Nome

When young Dr. Thomas Sims learned that his predecessor had been threatened with castration and run out of town, he knew his time as a U.S. Public Health Service doctor in Alaska was going to be even more challenging than he imagined. Just living in Nome, Alaska, in 1971 was challenging enough: clinging to the shores of the Bering Sea, the barren, treeless town had no water, sewer or telephone service and limited supplies. Add the brutally cold weather, the soul-numbing winter darkness, and the isolation and Dr. Sims realized that surviving the Arctic would be a formidable test both physically and mentally.

The frontier conditions of the Nome hospital matched the frontier conditions of the town. On call 24/7, Dr. Sims contacted 13 villages on a two-way radio every morning and after diagnosing all manner of conditions over the air, held clinic for the townspeople. Woe betide anyone who needed cutting-edge medical treatment because the equipment and supplies were primitive at best. Instinct and ingenuity were the prescriptions Dr. Sims could offer. Despite the limits of frontier medicine, miracles did happen.

Happily for Dr. Sims (and his wife!) no threats of castration materialized. Indeed one of the best parts of living in Alaska turned out to be the friendliness and generosity of the people. Truly grateful for his dedication and expertise most of the town embraced Dr. Sims and his family and provided them with advice and experiences that enriched their time in Nome.

On Call in the Arctic by Thomas J. Sims is just what you want in a medical memoir. Warm and witty, this true account of a fish-out-of-water has plenty of dramatic medical cases all set against the savage beauty of the Arctic.

Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!