Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal view

A magical education

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 08 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1399
  1. Daniel K Sokol (, PhD candidate
  1. medical ethics unit, department of primary health care and general practice, Imperial College London, and hospital magician, Charing Cross Hospital

    One afternoon a week, when tired of thinking about medical ethics, I put on my volunteer's badge, pick up my cards and coins, and head over to the nearby hospital. In large, black letters, the badge reads “MAGICIAN.”

    For a few hours, I meander through the wards, performing tricks for the “guests” and their relatives. At the bedside, a large silk scarf vanishes and reappears before their eyes, three coins jump invisibly from one hand to the next, a £5 note changes into £20, two cards change places in a blink of an eye, a signed card disappears from the deck, only to reappear in my wallet, and so on.

    In my first week as a hospital magician, I nearly vomited twice. In one oncology ward, the stench of urine and faeces was such that I could barely finish my first trick. I held my breath, rushed to the end, and briskly walked out, gasping for …

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