Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Letters from a Musical Friendship

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 20 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5903
  1. Desmond O'Neill , associate professor, Department of Medical Gerontology, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin 24, Ireland,
  2. Michael E Kelly, intern, Centre for Ageing, Neurosciences and the Humanities, Trinity College Dublin
  1. kellym11{at}

The medical humanities tend to have a physicianly hue, with surgeons perhaps unfairly labelled as less given to such reflective activities. Given that surgeons have won several Pulitzer prizes, and that the authors of the magisterial books Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science and How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter are both surgeons, this is an unfair rap. However, the life of a surgeon is tough, with long hours and training meshed with constant mental and physical strain. A balance of work and relaxation is essential to professional and personal life, and one of …

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