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Observations BMJ Confidential

Sam Guglani: Life, mortality, and poetry

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 14 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k550

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Duncan Smith


Sam Guglani is a consultant oncologist in Cheltenham, where he specialises in lung and brain cancers and chairs the hospital’s ethics committee. He is director and founder of Medicine Unboxed, an events project that aims to engage public and health professionals in exploring medicine, life, and mortality through the arts and humanities. He writes poetry, as well as a column for the Lancet titled “The Notes.” His first novel, Histories (Quercus, 2017), has been widely praised for its insight, telling individual stories that make up the life of a hospital.

What was your earliest ambition?

Some or other version of flight.

What was your best career move?

Passing through Bath on the train in 1994 and being caught by its beauty, the light on it. This, I think, is what took me back there the following year for my first house job, to people who inspired me to oncology, and my life sort of unfolded.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

On my first day on call as a junior in Gold Coast, Australia, I placed a central line hurriedly and …

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