Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor

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Summary of review

I was given this book on by my mum just before the annual family holiday as a bit of ‘light reading’. I was soon engrossed, and by the time we arrived after our two day drive I had almost finished it, which is a mean feat as I normally can’t read whilst on the move! It describes Dr Max Pemberton’s first year as a junior doctor, including the ups and the downs. Yes, he may have left out some of the in between, but books are for entertainment, and accounts of doing endless cannulas and discharge summaries aren’t what people want to read are they?
                As a medical student though, this book takes on several different roles, not just a quick read. On the wards, you see the junior doctors running around all over the place, preparing things for ward rounds, doing endless paperwork and somewhere in the middle managing to see all of the patients they are responsible for. This book does include that, but also lots of the other stuff you don’t see as a medical student such as the night shifts (Have you really been keen enough to do one?), and the intra-hospital politics and gossip.
                There are great accounts of actual patients, with problems you can relate to. Are sections where he describes patients to you and at some points I felt slightly ashamed that I was thinking ‘wonder what I’d do?’ before I read what Max actually did. Just me? Oh well...
                What particularly good about this book is the way it is written. I have seen a few books now written by doctors whose writing style is talking down to the reader about how amazing medicine is. Max Pemberton writes very much differently, peppering his stories with humour, and quite honestly, common sense! A fine example being; where other books talk about ‘networking to further career prospects’, he talks about getting on with the secretaries and nurses to survive the next few months (I know where my priorities will lie!).
                It’s impossible to review this book and not mention the NHS. Running through the book there is this recurring theme of how good the NHS is, and how we must prevent it from turning into money-centred rather than a patient-centred service. It is interesting, if not disheartening that despite doctors like Max, and the people he mentions in his books the politicians and their managers seem to be having their way, and sitting here writing this review the question in the back of my head is not if we lose the NHS, but when.
                One of my first thoughts on finishing the books were “phew glad I have the European Working Time Directive on my side!” This book gives a great description of the life (both in and out of hospital of a junior doctor), and has taught me more about the job I will (hopefully) have, than I learnt in my first two years of medical school. I’d recommend this to anyone, medical student or not.



Review by Paddy Green
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