42) This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
This memoir / diary of a junior doctor working in the NHS has been at the top of the bestseller lists for months, so I am late to this – or at least several months behind many thousands of readers. Based (I assume) on a diary he kept at the time, it details Adam Kay’s career from graduating from medical school through to leaving the profession all together. And, as many thousands of readers have already found, it is a) bloody funny, b) wincingly graphic and c) highly informative about both medicine and (real) life in the NHS.
Kay’s ascent through job titles that ‘civilians’ don’t understand (junior consultant, senior registrar etc) provides the structure and progression through his career, and that works well – giving enough of a framework to hang a vast number of anecdotes and stories off. And what stories there are – from the early young man who slid down a lamppost (suffice to say the word ‘degloved’ has stayed with me) to the misdiagnosis based on eating a lot of beetroot to the emergency drill being trialled during surgery. Suffice to say you will be laughing a lot, often snorting out loud.
What I was more surprised by was how Kay, primarily through footnotes, manages to educate the layman (that’s me) about various pieces of medical terminology, hierarchy and how things work. Not to mention the overarching understanding of the reality of being a junior doctor – indeed, this book arrived at such a topical time that he was invited in to meet the (former) Minister for Health, and his book was sent many times to the new, incoming Minister a few months back. I can see why – Kay is a good writer, and he makes the most of his experiences to draw wider lessons that we shouldn’t ignore. Amongst the laughs, indeed, there’s quite a lot to learn.