I read this book about 12-Jun-2006. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1959. This note was last modified Thursday, 22-Jun-2006 20:35:37 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
A childhood favorite, which I spotted going by in the Project Gutenberg release announcements and grabbed and read.
The protagonist, whose name I never can remember (I'm like that with protagoinsts), is the first alien admitted to the medical schools of Hospital Earth -- which, surprising everybody (especially us) turns out to be the only world in the galaxy with advanced biological sciences. There's much opposition to his being there, though he has a few friends both in high places and in his class.
He gets provisonally graduated, and sent out in a patrol ship with three other just-graduated doctors to do rounds. They have a series of problems on various planets, which they all contribute to solving in various ways (including his amorphous non-cellular lump of a companion animal).
At the last stop chronicled, they nearly wipe out a sentient species, but end up discovering a whole new form of life (intelligent viruses; see, the virus was the patient, and the host rejecting it was the medical problem) and signing a new medical contract. And the bad guy black doctor (a 4 star doctor of the pathology service) nearly manages to have the contract hidden and their careers broken, before he has a heart attack on them and our provisional surgeon has to do the heart transplant to save his life.
And, in the end, it turns out that being able to accept aliens working with them is the last hurdle Earth had to pass to qualify as a full member of galactic civilization, so it's a good thing it worked out the way it did.
I felt this stood up very well to the years since I'd last read it; I enjoyed it a lot again this time.
I understand that the author's last name is pronounced "nurse", and that he is himself a doctor. That must have been...interesting, especially as an interne.