HCAU Reviews: This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

HCAU Reviews: This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

I never realized how much I take the NHS for granted until I read Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor. I also never realized the amount and variety of objects said junior doctor might come across in certain body cavities during his practice. Kay’s book was at times poignant, hilarious at others – but all the way through sobering and offering insight into the real lives of doctors.

I picked this book up after hearing the title time and time again – in podcasts I listened to, videos I watched, even on my social media feed. After researching it a little bit, it’s not hard to see why: originally written as a rebuke to the government in the pay dispute of junior doctors, the book has won numerous awards, was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller for five months amongst other accolades, and has sold 700K copies (http://www.thisisgoingtohurt.co.uk/).

The book follows Adam, a junior doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology climbing the ranks from house officer to senior registrar. Written in an easy-to-read format consisting of short to longer diary entries, this book is a real page-turner. From the dark comedy of hospital life to horrific accidents and life-threatening complications during labour, Kay lays out the good, the bad and the ugly of working in medicine. While reading this book, make sure you don’t skip over the footnotes: medical expressions and jargon is explained there, in an easy to read and oftentimes hilarious style that nevertheless remains educational.

Although you will catch yourself laughing out loud at times, the diary entries radiate something more: passion for the profession, and disillusionment and frustration at the state of the NHS. 97-hour weeks, missed date nights, weddings, holidays, deteriorating personal relationships, maddening bureaucracy, and many life or death situations that could have been avoided if only staff weren’t so overworked, and the NHS mismanaged and underfunded. Kay’s account of life on the labour ward effectively debates the argument that junior doctors are greedy and selfish. Instead, it paints a picture of desperate and passionate people who are trying to do their best under dire conditions.

In my opinion, This Is Going to Hurt 100% lives up to the hype. Read this book on your way to your boring part-time job and appreciate not having to make life or death decisions during your relatively uneventful 6-hour shift. Read it between classes, or while re-evaluating your degree choice. Read it while you’re waiting at the medical practice – and then be extra nice to your doctor. Pick it up when you need a good laugh – or a good cry. You won’t regret it!

Photo: Eszter’s own