Medicine And Books

Making Doctors: An Institutional Apprenticeship

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 28 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:713
  1. Simon Wessely
  1. professor, Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College School of Medicine, London

    Simon Sinclair Berg, £14.99, pp 347 ISBN 1 85973 955 5

    Read this book. It is written by a qualified doctor who interrupted his career to study anthropology and undertook his field work by returning to medical school to observe the habits and dispositions of those who study and work there. It is in turn fascinating, nostalgic, and, ultimately, depressing.

    Simon Sinclair has produced a masterful account of rites of passage, a study of initiation in which the raw recruits enter medical school and progress through its various nooks and crannies to exit as members of the tribe some five years later. During that time they acquire knowledge (a little), take part in rituals (several), and acquire attitudes (a lot). This is called medical education.

    Sinclair observes the formal …

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