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Is this what we really want?

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1643 (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1643
  1. James Harrison, general practitionera
  1. a Cheveley Park Medical Centre, Belmont, Durham DH1 2UW

    Consultants now arrive at their destinations clutching shiny certificates of completion of specialist training (CCST). General practitioners still continue to emerge from vocational training schemes. Yet to speak of having a vocation in today's postmodern world is risky; some might say anachronistic. Just before his death the iconoclast playwright Dennis Potter, in an interview with Melvyn Bragg, mentioned his own sense of vocation as a writer. He lamented that the very word, derived as it was from religious language, seemed ill at ease in our secular world.

    In a previous era another troublemaker, the great Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, struggled to liberate the idea of vocation from its strictly monastic context. For him, there was more to life than becoming a monk. To have a calling or “station” in life was a God given privilege, endowed with honour and responsibility. Whether you …

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