Observations Ethics Man

How far would you go?

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39468.616736.0F (Published 24 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:190
  1. Daniel K Sokol, lecturer in medical ethics and law, St George’s, University of London
  1. daniel.sokol{at}talk21.com

    A little exaggeration or white lie on a job application form is OK, isn’t it? Absolutely not, says Daniel Sokol

    When I shake someone’s hand, I look at their watch to determine if I could remove it undetected. When I play cards, I consider all the ways a card sharp could cheat, from the easiest to the most daring. As a semi-professional magician, I have an unhealthy obsession with deception.

    At certain times of the year, I receive a flurry of emails and phone calls from anxious junior doctor friends asking for help with their job applications. They are particularly worried about questions featuring words such as “reflect,” “professionalism,” and “communication skills.” When reading their forms, I am occasionally surprised that they too enjoy a spot of deception.

    Across the United Kingdom, thousands of junior doctors are nervously filling in application forms for specialty training posts. The Department of Health predicts that competition for jobs in 2008 will be even fiercer than in 2007, with an average of three applicants for every job …

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