The Right Stuff?

18th June 2014 by Judith Harvey

The Right Stuff?

There are doctors who work in war zones. There are doctors who spend their lives in laboratories. There are doctor managers, doctor novelists, doctor comedians. A medical training can lead you almost anywhere. The trick is finding the niche which suits you.

The most high-octane branch of medicine in Britain is probably neurosurgery. The stakes are high and the risks, even of an apparently straightforward operation, are intimidating. Neurosurgeons can transform patients’ lives, curing their brain tumour or rendering them a vegetable. Or both in the same operation. In general practice, every day there are things we could have done better, but we don’t have to live with such catastrophic failures. How can anyone bear a lifetime on such a roller-coaster?

Henry Marsh knows. He’s a neurosurgeon on the verge of retirement, and his memoir, “Do no Harm”, tells us what it’s like.

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