How Not To Be A Doctor: And Other Essays

How Not To Be A Doctor: And Other Essays

by John Launer


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A doctor’s world laid bare in a collection of short essays that are surprising, entertaining, and moving

Doctor and medical columnist John Launer has written on the practice and teaching of medicine for many years. Now, more than fifty of his essays have been collected in How Not to Be A Doctor. Taken together, they set out an argument that being a doctor—a real doctor—should mean being able to draw on every aspect of yourself, your interests, and your experiences, however remote these may seem from the medical task of the moment.

Originating from popular columns Launer has written for medical journals, the essays range from the title essay “How Not to Be A Doctor,” an ironic piece illustrating how being authentic as a doctor may mean behaving in ways you were never taught in medical school, to a story of the imagined conversation between two prehistoric medical men on the primitive diet, to the author’s poignant account of being a patient himself as he received treatment for a life-threatening illness.

Some of the essays take the form of short stories, either imaginary or autobiographical, and some are contemplative in tone, while others are polemical, humorous, educational, fantastical, satirical, or dead serious. They cover a range of topics including music, poetry, literature, and psychoanalysis, as well as contemporary medical politics and the personal experiences of being a doctor. From the absurd to the profound, the short stories, essays, and reflections in How Not to Be a Doctor combine erudition with humor, candor, and the human touch to show how, in medicine, you cannot separate personal experiences from professional ones, and to inform and entertain readers on both sides of the stethoscope.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781468316315
Publisher: Abrams Press
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 587,195
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Launer is a GP and medical educator known for his work in consultation skills,
clinical supervision, and narrative based medicine. He is one of the best-known columnists in the British medical press and has contributed columns and articles to numerous periodicals and journals, including Times Health Supplement and BMJ,
for over twenty years.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 How not to be a Doctor 1

2 Stress Test 5

3 Plus Ça Change 9

4 Modern medicine 12

5 What's in a name? 16

6 The Wrong Trousers 19

7 Close Encounters 22

8 Mentioned in Passing 26

9 All Greek to me 30

10 Anna O and the 'Talking Cure' 34

11 Doing the Rounds 39

12 It's all in the body 43

13 Dr Scrooge's casebook 47

14 The Itch 51

15 Of Cheese and Choice 55

16 Let's talk About Sex 59

17 Mysteries of the Male 63

18 The enduring asylum 68

19 Do not Disturb 72

20 Burning your Relatives 76

21 The problem with sex 80

22 The Art of Questioning 85

23 Hot water 88

24 Interpreting Illness 91

25 It takes two 95

26 Yellow nose sign 98

27 Dialogue and diagnosis 102

28 Breaking the news 106

29 Careers advice 110

30 Only obeying orders 114

31 The art of not listening 118

32 End of the road 122

33 Escaping the loop 125

34 Impaled on the invisible 129

35 Weasel words 132

36 Folk illness and medical models 135

37 The facts of death 139

38 Care pathways 144

39 On kindness 148

40 Capable but insane 153

41 On the record 157

42 Close readings 161

43 Meet your microbiome 166

44 Opium 171

45 Medicine as poetry 177

46 The breathtakingly simple facts of life 181

47 Monkey business 185

48 Medicine under capitalism 190

49 Memories of the workhouse 194

50 Taking risks seriously 199

51 Three kinds of reflection 203

52 Brief encounter 208

53 Power and powerlessness 212

54 Fathers and sons 216

Further Reading 221

Acknowledgements 233

Author's note 235

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How Not To Be A Doctor: And Other Essays 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
EmmabBooks More than 1 year ago
Short interesting reads A series of short essays written by the author over many years, some humorous, some serious, all thought provoking. This is a great book to dip into, with essay titles that are inviting and varied. The essays are about 3 pages long, which make them perfect bedtime, or commuter, reading. Each essay gives plenty to think about, and are very readable by those with no medical training. Some of the essays have laugh out loud content, some are satirical, and some are just plain worrying about how the medical profession survive each day. All are interesting. There are 54 chapters/essays, all clearly written, easy to read and containing a mass of thought provoking information. The author does not appear to be pushing his opinions, but rather looking to open up thought and discussion. With approximately 54 different subjects covered I am loathe to list any of the themes (a glance at the Contents Page will give you that information), but many areas of everyday life are in this book, from the choices we make to our pre-formed judgements, from difficult patients to attractive patients, from the economics of patient care to the need for kindness. 5*s from me, as there are so many thought provoking essays in here, plus humour and fun. A book to be dipped into and thought about, rather than read in one sitting. Definitely a book that I will re-read, and talk about with others.