“I found myself laughing in horror over and over, but Kay’s poignant final act brought me to tears. This is a valuable window into the life of a junior doctor that should be required reading for all.”



Adam Kay spent six years as a junior doctor on wards in various hospitals (plus six years prior to this training in medical school). During his time as a junior doctor in numerous posts, he kept a diary, hastily written in brief windows of free time. This book is a selection of just a few of these entries which construct an image of life in the NHS. Alongside these entries are Kay’s notes on medical terminology which he explains in detail, adding his own often humorous commentary, injecting even more of his personality into the pages.

The diary extracts are broken up into Kay’s different roles from House Officer to Senior House Officer, and from Registrar to Senior Registrar – the highest Kay reached before he resigned from his job.

The stories in this book range from nerve-wracking life or death operations and fast-thinking medical emergencies to Adam’s often disastrous personal life, and comical tales of mishaps involving objects stuck in places they really shouldn’t be. Despite the often terrifying nature of the job, Adam Kay successfully creates a book that perfectly toes the line between hilariously funny and painfully heart-breaking with his brilliantly sarcastic tone. The job clearly takes a toll on Kay throughout his career and the book follows this 6-year emotional rollercoaster, until the final culminating event which resulted in his decision to leave.

The book is not only interesting and humorous but also easy to read since it’s broken up into short diary entries it’s easy to pick up during short train journeys and lunch breaks which, unlike junior doctors, I have time to read in.

I highly recommend this book not only to give you a laugh (and sometimes a good cry) but also to give you an insight into the hectic and all-consuming lives of junior doctors, as Kay explains “next time the government takes a pickaxe to the NHS, don’t just accept what the politicians try to feed you. Think about the toll the job takes on every healthcare professional, at home and at work. Remember they do an impossible job, to the very best of their abilities.”


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 4th February 2019

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Catherine Muxworthy