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Posted October 30, 2012
Confessions of a GP
Visiting the doctor can be a nerve-wracking business and so, even without ever having had to have a consultation about a condition that would qualify me for Embarrassing Bodies, I tend to prefer to think of my GP as some sort of living embodiment of medical knowledge rather than a regular person who is baffled by my boils or is counting down the minutes until lunch break. With this in mind, I probably wasn’t the idea audience for a book which is very much about the human face of the medical profession and the way doctors perceive their patients.
However, Confessions of a GP was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I trust and so, at the risk of never being able to visit my own GP again, I decided to give it a go and, overall, I’m pleased that I did. Benjamin Daniels has a nice, clear writing style and, while I did disagree with some the of the points he made [from a non-medical point of view; I’m not convinced by his views on the diagnosis of certain psychological conditions], he came across as generally likeable and well-informed.
Despite the book being called Confessions of a GP, much of the book is comprised of anecdotes and discussions about Daniels’ patients rather than secrets/revelations about his own work as a GP. With GPs getting to see their patients warts and all [as it were] it’s no surprise that Daniels has quite a few peculiar tales to recount – the woman with the Tom Jones fantasies etc – and so the book does feature plenty of laughs. Sometimes you get to laugh at the patients [which is perhaps not always the kindest thing to do] and sometimes at Daniels himself.
Confessions of a GP isn’t a humour book though as, in common with every GP do doubt, Daniels’ career involves quite a bit of sadness. From the people with terminal conditions to the lonely elderly and from troubled kids to those unable to care for themselves, there are plenty of moving stories too. Although he is clearly ready to spin some tall tales and describe patients in an amusing manner, Daniels does come across as a generally caring and empathetic professional.
Overall then, Confessions of a GP was a very enjoyable book. It is an extremely quick read and the short chapters sometimes felt rather disjointed. The various stories, trials and tribulations could perhaps have been better served by more “filler” passages that would have helped the book to hang together better as a whole. Still, a recommended short read for those wondering what it is like to be a GP and those who just wish to have a few laughs and learn a bit about the medical profession.
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