This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctorby Adam Kay Published 07 Sep 2017
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Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.
"This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor" Reviews
SUCH an important book. Anyone who does not work in the NHS should be obliged to read this.
Breezed through this one. The sense of humour worked well, balanced with the horrors of Kay's job.
An Xmas present from my sis. She said, "You won't regret quitting medicine after reading this."
She knows I don't, really, though reading this I wondered if I would.
I think people assume I regret quitting medicine more than I do, which is, not at all. It had "not for me" all over it, and I've never experienced such an immense relief since leaving. My body was like, "Yeees, shut this shit down! Let's do anything else with the next... everything of our life!"
I made it a year and a half at St Andrews then switched to Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde, spending the intervening months folding schoolwear in a shop so I knew that anything at uni would be worth it eventually.
If this is even the first time you're reading that I ever studied medicine, it's because while I value your literary opinion immensely, I don't wake up giving a fuck how clever you think I am! (Okay it does come up in Saxual Healing, but it was relevant. A bit ;) )
A friend asked me about it when I met him in Greece this summer. I said, "It was never something I was supposed to be, so I don't think about it at all."
Maybe an equivalent is, "Was it difficult coming out?" Maybe, but it was less tough than staying in.
Anyway, I met some other people on that holiday, and it clicked.
"So you live in Norway," a man said. "What was Norway before they had oil? They were farmers! Fishermen! You know, we here in Greece are hoping to discover new oil reserves. And as a banker I work with many of the same companies as you anyway."
"Sure, sure," I said.
Why say, "Despite your weird attempted 'historical own', the guys I work with sure don't catch their own fish anymore!" or, "That stable oil price will help you guys secure energy independence after your exploration efforts definitely lead to reserves. Oil is the, uh, future..." I didn't engage, though. I was on holiday and didn't know the guy. (And I also wasn't drunk.)
No one SHOULD have to justify themselves to others, but that's not how most people let the world work. Kay isn't bothering to justify himself and openly pokes fun at the idea that anyone could pick a suitable career at a young age, or that the criteria for acceptance for careers even make sense. But this is mainly a clarion call to action against the current conditions for junior doctors and perhaps a deeply reassuring text to those people who feel inadequate because they're not doctors.
Wow what a sacrifice it is. I sure wasn't able to make it.
A funny, excoriating memoir about a "junior" ob/gyn physician who is "nervous in the service" -- not the military, but Britain's National Health Service during recent years of budget retrenchment, 2004 to 2010. Adam Kay and his colleagues had to deal with weirdly ineffectual decisions coming down the chain-of-command that are spun to send spuriously comforting political messages to the "folks at home" rather than merely save money at all costs. When a volunteer translator renders the Punjabi word indicating a chronic bleeder into "hermaphrodite" rather than "hemophiliac," it's funny but potentially deadly. When an NHS decision from on high takes away the doctors' sleeping cots, remember that your next deliverer of a C-section may have been on his/her feet for 18 hours. God forbid those lazy malingerers should try to stay alert and refreshed!
Adam Kay's writing style is funny, but we can see the humor and patience wearing thin when a hemorrhaging patient splashed blood on his scrubs, pants, expensive CK boxers and manhood underneath. The pay these young physicians received for their herculean efforts is usually pitifully small, and once again the invisible bureaucracy seems to have them in their sights--when the docs switch from the Nike type of trainer (athletic) shoes to the much cheaper Crocs, the brass ban use of Crocs but offer no clothing allowances. It's at this point Kay begins to wonder whether the joy of delivering baby after healthy baby really compensates for the occasional heartbreaking failure, the ridiculous hours, low pay, bureaucratic turgidity that ignores success but comes down hard on trivial infractions, and above all the inability to schedule a social life when everyone seems to be slotted in as backup for everyone else. That last problem really hits the fan when time off the author had been promised for a two-week overseas vacation is nullified by a weekend of duty right in the middle. Nobody's fault, but there's no going AWOL.
A couple of notes about the language in this highly entertaining memoir with a high "can't-put-it-down" quotient: typically, Kay uses the common four-letter term instead of "manhood" above; Yanks who object to profanity may find the use and frequency of it in this book disconcerting. British slang is freely applied, too, but I forgive him all this for his scrupulousness in footnoting medical terms (which he very much intends to be read), so we readers can understand what references like "trans-vaginal probe" and "pre-eclampsia" and the convoluted acronym "TAH BSO" all mean.
We readers know from the introduction to this powerful book that Adam Kay eventually left the National Health Service for a turn at comedy. While the National Health Service does not (yet) subject its patients to American-style five- and six-figure bills, we have to wonder about the priorities of any society that rewards gag-writing for telly so much more handsomely than saving the lives of mothers and fetuses. This shocking (but very funny) black-humored account remains a brisk seller on both sides of the Atlantic.
Update: August 31, 2018
I’ve never read a book quite like This is Going to Hurt! It was equal parts hilarious, saddening, and eye-opening. I am so supportive of the NHS and it’s workers in this country, this book is proof of the amazing work doctors and nurses do for us every single day that a lot of us take for granted.
I’ve said it a million times before, but I find comedy in books really hard to connect with and I rarely laugh out loud at books. To begin with, I thought the humour in this one felt a bit forced and I was sure I wasn’t going to enjoy this as much as I’d hoped but soon enough I began really enjoying the humour and found myself outwardly laughing at some of Kay’s anecdotes. I even read some of the passages out loud to Matt, now that’s praise!
The writing in this book is really well done. It’s full of wit, sarcasm, and self-deprecating humour while also being filled with some controversial and powerful moments. Told in diary form entry this is a really easy book to speed through, even when it comes to some of the harder hitting moments.
Call me heartless, but unlike a lot of others who’ve read this book, I didn’t find myself on the edge of, or even in, tears. There is definitely a fair share of upsetting entries, so be warned but it didn’t hit me as hard as it did others.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this short read. It light-heartedly highlighted the ever-growing struggles of NHS workers while offering a humorous outlook of working as a junior doctor. I can also tell you this has put me off having kids for life!
This was a DNF for me, as a nurse working in the emergency room, I can relate to a lot of the references in this book, especially the dark humour - that’s how we healthcare professionals get through the stress of work. However, I could not stand Kay’s obnoxious views on the struggles doctors deal with day to day, yes being a doctor is relentless, stressful and brings little reward, however he seemed to me to be completely disrespectful of other healthcare professionals and actually quite insulting of midwives in particular. Yes doctors have a difficult time, but so does everyone who works for the NHS, from receptionists, to radiographers, to porters - doctors absolutely do not have the hardest time as he would like you to believe, and it’s not all about them!
The first time in many years that I have stayed up late at night, curled up in bed, and read from start to finish an entire book.
From 8pm until a couple minutes after 1 o'clock the next morning, I devoured this book.
It is beautiful, wonderful, poignant, hilarious, heart-wrenchingly sad, happy and every other emotion humans ever feel.
A full review to follow, but the NHS needs to be saved right now.