If at first you don't succeed

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 11 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:90
  1. James Hanslip, senior house officer, Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Liverpool (

    “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.” The origins of this phrase are not entirely clear, having been quoted as far back as 1840 but popularised in Edward Hickson's Moral Song (1857). Whoever originally coined it, most people would agree with its sentiment. Which is why I was surprised that, at a recent meeting on current changes in postgraduate surgical training, a tutor encouraged trainees not successful at surgical selection stages to “go off and do something else.”

    This made me wonder what the world would be …

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