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Confessions of a GP

Life, Death and Earwax

2010
By
Dr. Benjamin Daniels

Reviewed by Mira de Vries

Benjamin Daniels (a pseudonym) aspires to be for general practice what James Herriot was for veterinary medicine. He sketches his alleged experiences and ponderings while working as a family physician in an unnamed city in Great Britain.

Non-Brits may take a few chapters to get the knack of the British terminology. For instance, surgery is not an operation but a doctor's office or clinic. A&E is the emergency room, and Zinner frames are the wheeled racks used by people who are infirm as a walking aid. Although the British National Health Service is a unique system, we can surely all identify with annoyance at the bureaucracy it engenders.

Usually when physicians write for a lay readership, they either cram in too much medical jargon, or they talk down to their readers as though addressing children. Daniels makes neither of these mistakes. His writing is direct like talking to a friend. A few of his stories feel suspiciously familiar; they are borrowed from the humor sites circulating on the Internet or have been adapted from news items in the media, but the vast majority seem familiar only because they reflect human nature. He writes "Paid considerably less than us, [nurses] do a lot of the work and basically earn the GPs their big salaries." Perhaps the author is really a nurse, or a lay writer. The book is none the less entertaining.

With its whimsical style, easy language, and short chapters -- many no more than two pages -- this book is ideal for a family physician's waiting room. The doctor need not worry about his patients encountering dissident views in it. Daniels uses not a word or letter that deviates from received medical dogma.

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