Advice that changed my practice: Have a heart attack

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 19 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:j
  1. Charles Essex, consultant neurodevelopmental paediatrician
  1. Coventry

    Many of us worked hard to get into medical school and to stay there. When we were junior doctors the pressure of work was totally different—eating, sleeping, and personal welfare took a low priority; you did not go off duty until the work was finished. Through a combination of personality and training, doctors become inculcated with both an ethos of working extremely hard under intense pressure and a commitment to patients.

    As a consultant I felt guilty if I did not see severely handicapped children and their parents, who carry a tremendous burden, at the earliest opportunity if they called with a problem. The alternatives seemed to be either to give them the next available appointment (usually four weeks' time) and feel guilty, or to offer to see them within a day …

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