Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Dropping out and being free

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 08 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2740
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    I read recently that a third of German medical students and newly qualified doctors abandon the profession. In fact, medicine has always had its share of drop-outs, to say nothing of those who continue in it for lack of an alternative.

    The protagonist of James Bridie’s play The Switchback is a general practitioner, Dr Mallaby, who experiences being struck off the register as a liberation, despite the impoverishment it will bring.

    Bridie’s real name was Osborne Henry Mavor (1888-1951), a doctor who took almost a decade to graduate. His father was a doctor turned engineer. Mavor failed once at chemistry, three times at physics, and four times at zoology, before failing …

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