Thursday, July 23, 2009

Medical literature

Not the most auspicious cover in the world: an Ipcress-era Michael Caine / Julian Clarey lookylikey with too much eyeliner stares out, his mouth somewhat ajar. Above, a glowing reference from Maureen Lipman, possibly impressed by the author's numerous -ologies. A Radio 4 book of the week sticker. Yes, we're well into middle class England territory with this one. Give it to your daughter for her 17th birthday pre-med school interview sort of thing.

It's another "diary of a house officer" book. I picked it up at St Vincent's for $6 (that place has got expensive). Inside, the usual tales of know-nothing first day jnr doctors, advice not to need hospital treatment in the UK in the first week of August, scary consultants etc etc. Nicely written, a likeable, modest author, an hour to read, not a lot to learn. Indeed, no insights as far as I can see albeit from my position as a semi-insider.

Thing is, it reads like it comes from another era. It's pre-MTAS, pre-EWTD; an age when the problem for medical graduates was too much work, too much choice. To be fair to the author, he adds a note at the end of the book to acknowledge this which serves to strip the work of most of it's relvence.

I can't see the point of this book. It may as well as been set in a photocopy shop: genuine anecdotes which connect you with the human side of the job are few and far between. Sure, he screws up an misses a PE. Stripping that out leaves a fairly dull and predictable office romance between an older, married more senior man and the office junior to dominate most of the proceedings.

And, like every other intern / HO who has written a book, he becomes a psychiatrist. What's that all about?

Addendum: he's written a follow up about his SHO year, it seems. At this rate, he's going to have thirty-odd by the time he retires, although "my year marking time as an SpR" might not grip the reader so. If he worked on the counter in Boots he'd meet more people and probably have more of an insight in the human condition. The cover of his new book is worse, btw.

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