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Book review: This is going to hurt by Adam Kay



This book is a series of diary entries kept by junior doctor at the time, Adam Kay, about the goings-on of his work and life, while training to become a doctor. Although I read this book a while ago, it’s been at the forefront of my mind recently, as the election played out and the prospect of our NHS being under threat becomes even more real. So, I couldn’t think of a better time to urge people to read it!


Throughout this book you’ll be cry-laughing at some of the true stories Kay tells from his time on the wards. The writer has a real wit and charm when he writes, and you can’t help but laugh when he tells stories like when someone proposed on Leap Day, by shoving a ring up her vag and getting it stuck up there (he worked on a gynae ward so lots of room for grim but hilarious stories.) It’s truly enough to read the book just for these moments which Kay treats with good humour.


However, I’ve listened to some podcasts with Adam Kay and read his interviews and the whole aim of this book is to use humour to tell an insightful story. The book was written in response to the junior doctors debate over pay, where the Health Secretary at the time, Jeremy Hunt, had called the junior doctors ‘greedy’ in response for better pay and working conditions. There is no doubt that after reading this book no one would label junior doctors in this way. In-between hilarious stories, you also see how Kay’s personal life suffered as a result of his career, the ridiculous things asked of doctors like working for days on end and not being able to ever call in sick and through learning these things you cannot help but have a huge admiration for these people who choose to serve others in this way.


Kay also touches on the traumas he faced, and which eventually lead to him leaving the profession, like dealing with tragic events every day and never ever receiving the mental support needed. It also shows you the human side to doctors. Kay writes about literally leaping from textbook to real life human with not much notice, and how the willingness of more senior doctors to help junior doctors really dictates how good your training will be.

This book has been an overwhelming success since its release. Over 1.5 million copies of this book have been sold and it’s the best-selling ebook of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. In the UK, we’ve all benefited from the NHS in some way, even if just for our own birth and many of us work or know people who work within it. It has its flaws, but what this book seeks to highlight and does really well is to show what a great institution it is, with a group of selfless and hard-working people who keep it moving each day.


Read this if: You want a laugh and want to read equally hilarious and gross anecdotes.


Favourite bit: Kay directly addressing Jeremy Hunt at the end of this book.


Any parts I didn’t like? Some of the stories did get repetitive but because of the way Kay writes, I wanted to read them anyway.


Stars out of 5: 4.5 stars!

Brown girl Kim
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