Filler A day in the life of a doctor

The computer

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 20 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1304
  1. David Isaacs, senior staff specialist1,
  2. Stephen Isaacs, consultant2,
  3. Dominic Fitzgerald, senior staff specialist3
  1. 1Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2Waltham Forest Child and Family Consultation Service, London
  3. 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Westmead
  1. davidi{at}

    The main purpose of a computer is domination. A computer ensures you do not waste your time seeing patients—or waste your time on other unimportant pursuits such as eating, drinking, sleeping, or making babies.

    A subsidiary purpose of a computer is to provide a mini-mental test of your capacity to remember passwords. Passwords on a computer are different for every program, and change as frequently as you change your underwear. Passwords are the name of your deceased dog, or your partner’s name spelt backwards, followed by a number that increases exponentially. If you are able to remember all your passwords, you have Asperger’s syndrome and should see a doctor immediately. Normal human beings keep their passwords safely hidden on a piece of scrap paper, never to be found again.

    Theoretically, computers save trees, except that everyone prints out their electronic documents to read offline, thereby avoiding terminal migraine.

    A desktop computer is like a dominatrix. It has everything you want and more, but is determined to demonstrate your inadequacy and your total dependence. The computer knows your patients’ laboratory results, so you need never see your patients again. An endless torrent of emails will keep you hostage for hours. Your colleagues are under the delusion that their emails have direct access to your brain, and telephone grumpily if you do not reply within seconds. The emails you do open invariably impugn the size or function of a man’s private parts or offer breast enlargement. The computer is programmed to send an email every time you attempt to leave the office, the number of attachments directly proportional to the urgency of the appointment you are missing.

    Modern life is about portability and practicality, as you negotiate the declining distinction between work and home life. Mobility is the order of the day—mobile phones, mobile homes, and mobile morals. The solution is a laptop computer. A laptop is like a lapdog but with a brain. It requires a licence and regular nourishment, but will then act as a CAD (conversation avoidance device). A laptop is part of the dress code for all government employees you’re likely to encounter and is an essential accessory for aeroplane travel. You will, however, need the coordination of an Olympic gymnast to work the mouse, and the patience of Job when the battery runs out halfway through your flight and loses all your work.

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