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Views & Reviews Medical classics

A Country Doctor's Notebook

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:479
  1. Chris Bird, F2 doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
  1. chrisbird{at}

    In 1916 Mikhail Bulgakov, 24 years old and fresh from medical school in Kiev, was posted to a snowbound rural clinic in northwestern Russia, “thirty-two miles from the nearest electric light,” to fill a gap left by doctors serving on the eastern front. In his semi-fictionalised account, A Country Doctor's Notebook, the young medic spends the journey to the remote hospital on rutted tracks, worrying about how he will cope with tracheotomies and obstructed labour (he has seen only two normal deliveries at medical school), fretting over his youthful appearance, and urging himself to walk, not run.

    He doesn't have to wait long …

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