- 1 hr 55 min
A man, Hunter Adams, voluntarily commits himself to a mental institution in 1969 where he realizes his purpose in life is helping other people. Through his helpful work with other inmates he earns the nickname "Patch" and goes on to become the oldest first year student enrolled at Virginia Medical University. He disagrees with the school's dean about his approach to medicine and feels that it's as important to bond with the patients as it is to treat them. He is expelled from the school but reinstated when his unorthodox methods prove a benefit to his patients. Patch teaches that human connections are important and that death should be approached with a mixture of solemnity and humor. With the help of a fellow student Carin and an old friend and patient from his time in the mental institution, Patch opens his own clinic in West Virginia out of a renovated cottage. Here, patients are treated by Patch and other medical students with Patch's special brand of compassion and the clinic accepts anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Carin and Patch fall in love and she reveals her troubled past and her wish as a child to turn into a butterfly to escape her pain. He encourages her to heal her spiritual wounds by helping others. Determined to help a particularly disturbed patient, Larry Silver. Larry proves worse off than she though and, when Carin goes to his home she is murdered by him before he turns a shotgun on himself. Patch is distraught at her death, blaming himself and rethinking his whole outlook on life. After considering suicide he regains hope after seeing a butterfly that reminds him of Carin. Patch decides to continue his work because it was what Carin would have wanted. Patch is again expelled from the medical school, this time for opening his clinic and practicing medicine without a license. At the advice of his former roommate, he files suit to fight his expulsion and attends a hearing where it will be decided whether or not he can graduate. With an eloquent speech about his responsibility as a doctor to treat people's illness in both people's bodies and souls, Patch convinces the medical board and jury to accept his methods and allow him to graduate. He receives a standing ovation in the court and, at his graduation, continues his zany antics by handing a diploma to the Dean and then mooning the audience.