Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal views

We risk forgetting what it means to be free

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 14 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1277
  1. Lesley Morrison, GP principal, Teviot Medical Practice, Hawick (

    When I was a newly qualified doctor, I bought a red Dodge Dart convertible in New York City for $200, drove it across to the west coast, and sold it for $220. My journey took nine months and started a few weeks after I finished my intern year in Brooklyn.

    My year had begun on a steamily hot August day in the emergency room of the Jewish Hospital and Medical Center of Brooklyn. A mere month after graduating from Aberdeen University I was scarcely equipped for the succession of drug overdoses, knife wounds, and multiple variations on trauma that I saw. Almost all of my patients had been black and Hispanic “service” patients, those without private medical insurance who had been treated in wards bereft of senior staff and relying on the embryonic skills of people like me for their medical care. The junior staff consisted of doctors on rotations from prestigious university teaching hospitals, who resented being obliged to work in this outpost for six months, …

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