Letters In praise of young doctors

What are we being trained for?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5198 (Published 06 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5198
  1. Meher Lad, foundation year 1 doctor1,
  2. Joseph Michael Norris, fifth year medical student2,
  3. David Ross McGowan, foundation year 1 doctor3
  1. 1North Middlesex Hospital, London N18 1QX, UK
  2. 2Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9PX, UK
  3. 3Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Gloucester GL1 3NN, UK
  1. m.lad{at}doctors.org.uk

As people about to cross the student-doctor boundary we echo Heath’s sentiments.1 During the past five years, our performance has been determined by exercises and assignments that reduced us to tick boxes.

We were given formulas to perform examinations, take histories, and break bad news. We were even assessed on our abilities to reflect, and there was a formula for that too. As we start working on the wards for the first time we anticipate discovering a strategy for success in that environment. To one of the authors’ chagrin, when a junior doctor asked a consultant during a ward round about a patient’s management, the consultant retorted, “You’re not here to think, boy.”

The graduation address to Harvard Medical School’s class of 2012 reminded the graduates of how the wonders of modern medicine may be futile in the face of social inequality and that they could change the healthcare system.2 We understand the burden on medical schools and training programmes to produce competent doctors, but this should not amount to creating mere minions. They must not strip individuals of their identities. The consequences may be that doctors at the end of the production line are too detached from the society they serve to cater for patients’ needs appropriately.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5198


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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