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Best-selling author tells students of harsh (and humorous) realities of being a junior doctor

Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine Society (BL-PEMS) President Amy Easthope on Adam Kay’s recent visit to BL

It may seem counterintuitive for the Obs & Gynae Society and BL-PEMS host a speaker who is famous for writing a book about the desperate and harsh realities of being a doctor. But for me, Adam Kay’s bestselling book This Is Going to Hurt has a much deeper and wholesome message for those of us studying to enter the medical profession. 

Adam Kay heartbreakingly illustrates the realities of losing friendships, relationships and almost his sanity to the world of medicine. However, he also writes about his memorable patients in a laugh-out-loud-on-the-district-line-to-placement kind of way. 

This combination of gut-wrenching sadness, laced with the hilarity of his experiences with patients is a strange pill to swallow, but nevertheless, we medical (and non-medical) students swallowed it, and turned up in our hundreds to hear him speak at the Perrin lecture theatre at Whitechapel on Monday 10th December. 

Kay read passages from his book, sipping his requested ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) white wine, and provided context to stories about his career as a trainee doctor. At times, during the parts about the downsides of being a doctor, I thought (in Love Island’s Dr Alex fashion): “oh hell” what have I done! Kay’s messages are essential though and it is better for us to hear them now, as students.

It is important to talk to people about how you feel. It is important to share your experiences with colleagues, or with someone trained to help you pick apart your feelings about those experiences. Medical students and professionals alike need to be honest with non-medical friends, keep in touch with them, and get them to read Adam Kay’s book if they get mad at you for missing their birthday meal. 

Doctors are humans. Humans physically and humans emotionally. Adam Kay helped us all realise that on Monday and I felt that everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed listening to him. Plus, he signed our books!

Fun fact: Adam Kay wrote the famous ‘London Underground’ song. YouTube his band, The Amateur Transplants, for even more laughter. 

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