Academic medicine: time for reinvention

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7430.46-c (Published 01 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:46

Hogwarts may be a useful analogy for improvement

  1. Paola Albertazzi, locum consultant (P.Albertazzi{at}hull.ac.uk)
  1. Centre for Metabolic Bone Disease, Hull HU3 2RW

    EDITOR—Stewart discusses how to improve clinical research.1 The Harry Potter books may help to understand clinical academics and clinicians and perhaps highlight areas for improvement.

    Most clinicians are the Hagrids of the clinical world. They prefer to get on with the job and are usually good at it. They find it hard to deal with the often confusing language of research and harder still to apply it to their understaffed and underfunded services.

    Clinical academics are the professors at Hogwarts. Professor Lucius is found mostly, but not exclusively, in many Mediterranean countries. This type of professor is likely to have obtained the position through political slyness or family ties but never because of the quality of research. He or she loves the power, the additional prestige, and the revenue that the title of professor brings.

    Professor Gilderoy Lockhart has chosen an academic career for its ample scope for hedonism. Never really able to cope with real medicine, professors like him have chosen just to talk about it, which they usually do well. Their name will appear on scientific papers of sponsored clinical trials for which they are unlikely to have seen a patient.

    Albus Dumbledore is the good professor who has the progress of science at heart rather than his own ego. Professors like him are good clinicians for whom research is merely an integral part of everyday practice and who strive to provide patients with the best possible care.

    Clinical academics must of course be composites of these professors. However, the representation of the three professors in universities, executive commissions, and grant funding bodies will ultimately determine the quality of the clinical research produced. If Professors Lucius and Gilderoy Lockhart predominate, clinical research is inevitably doomed.


    • Competing interests None declared


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