This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
  • Title: This is Going to Hurt
  • Subtitle: Now a major BBC comedy-drama
  • Author(s): Adam Kay
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Year: 2017-09-07
  • ISBN-10: 1509858644
  • ISBN-13: 9781509858644


This is Going to Hurt: Now a major BBC comedy-drama” is a riveting and darkly humorous memoir written by Adam Kay, a former junior doctor in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). In this brutally honest account, Kay provides an unfiltered look into the often overlooked world of medical professionals, depicting the grueling realities, emotional turmoil, and overwhelming pressures they face day in and day out.

Through a series of diary entries, Kay chronicles his seven years of medical training, starting from his days as a bright-eyed and optimistic student to eventually becoming a disillusioned and burnt-out doctor. With a sharp wit and an unrelenting candidness, he exposes the absurdities, bureaucracy, and relentless demands of the NHS, while also sharing the heart-wrenching moments and difficult decisions that doctors must face on the frontlines of patient care.

Despite the heavy subject matter, Kay effortlessly injects humor into his anecdotes, creating a balance between the deeply personal and the comedic. Through laugh-out-loud moments and poignant reflections, he sheds light on the resilience and dedication of healthcare professionals, making “This is Going to Hurt” a captivating and eye-opening read that both educates and entertains. This book offers a unique perspective on the challenges that doctors encounter and serves as a powerful reminder of the human cost of providing healthcare in a system under strain.


Book Review

A Hilarious and Heartbreaking Journey: "This is Going to Hurt" by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Now a major BBC comedy-drama” by Adam Kay is a raw and eye-opening memoir that offers an unfiltered glimpse into the life of a junior doctor in the NHS. With a unique blend of dark humor and poignant storytelling, Kay takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster, shedding light on the challenges and sacrifices faced by those working in the medical field.

Kay’s writing style is remarkably engaging and his wry wit shines through every page, providing hilarious anecdotes that leave readers chuckling even in the face of the most harrowing situations. One example that stands out is when Kay recounts a moment during his training where he was called to assist in a difficult childbirth. The baby is eventually delivered and the room is filled with relief. However, the moment is short-lived as Kay realizes that the newborn is not breathing. In a comical twist of fate, the baby suddenly lets out a loud belch, breaking the tension and causing the entire room to erupt in laughter. These moments of levity provide a much-needed break from the emotional weight of the book, while also serving as a coping mechanism for the doctors themselves.

Beyond the humor, Kay fearlessly exposes the deeply flawed NHS system, highlighting the long hours, chronically understaffed hospitals, and bureaucratic red tape that doctors must navigate on a daily basis. The moments of frustration and burnout are vividly portrayed, such as his heartbreaking decision to leave the profession he once loved due to the toll it took on his mental health. Kay’s sincerity and vulnerability are especially evident when he describes the devastating impact of a medical error on a patient’s life, revealing the emotional toll that doctors bear even when they cannot save a life.

While the book is filled with amusing anecdotes, it never loses sight of the seriousness of its subject matter. Kay delves into topics such as the strain on doctors’ personal lives, the moral dilemmas faced when dealing with difficult patients, and the heartbreaking moments of loss. One particularly poignant example is when Kay describes his experience with stillbirths, exemplified by the story of a mother who loses her child in a tragic manner. His emotions are palpable as he details the immense grief and guilt experienced by doctors who are unable to prevent such tragedies. Through these stories, Kay humanizes the medical profession, breaking down the barriers between doctors and readers, and reminding us of the profound impact their work has on both their patients and themselves.

This is Going to Hurt” is an important book that highlights the societal value of doctors while exposing the relentless demands placed on them. It is a love letter to those who selflessly dedicate themselves to the care of others, while also serving as a call to action for much-needed reform within the healthcare system. Kay’s ability to weave humor and heartbreak into a compelling narrative makes this a standout memoir not only for medical professionals but for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices made in the pursuit of saving lives.

In conclusion, Adam Kay’s “This is Going to Hurt” is an incredibly powerful and captivating memoir that blends humor and heartbreak to shed light on the realities of working as a doctor in the NHS. With poignant storytelling and witty anecdotes, Kay breaks down the glamourized image of the medical profession and presents an unfiltered portrait of the sacrifices and challenges faced by those in the field. This book is an absolute must-read that will leave readers laughing, crying, and reflecting on the immense value of our healthcare professionals.

Word Count: 646

Being a doctor is like having someone else's Google search bar open in front of you, but you're holding the keyboard.

Key Ideas

The key ideas explored in “This is Going to Hurt: Now a major BBC comedy-drama” by Adam Kay can be summarized as follows:

  1. The Demanding Reality of the Medical Profession Adam Kay exposes the relentless demands placed on doctors, particularly junior doctors working in the NHS. He provides a vivid portrayal of the long working hours, understaffed hospitals, and bureaucratic challenges that healthcare professionals face. Through his own experiences, Kay highlights the toll these demands take on their physical and mental well-being, leading to burnout and disillusionment.

  2. The Importance of Humanizing Healthcare The book emphasizes the need to humanize the healthcare profession, reminding readers that doctors are not immune to the emotional weight of their work. Kay deftly showcases the moral dilemmas, emotional struggles, and personal sacrifices doctors make on a daily basis. He speaks to the inherent humanity of doctors, breaking down the perception of them as infallible and highlighting their genuine desire to help and care for their patients.

  3. The Broken Healthcare System Through humorous anecdotes and heartbreaking moments, Kay sheds light on the shortcomings and flaws within the NHS system. He critiques the chronic understaffing, the administrative burdens, and the lack of support for doctors. Kay advocates for meaningful reform within the healthcare system, showcasing the need for increased resources, improved work-life balance for healthcare professionals, and better patient care.

  4. The Power of Humor as a Coping Mechanism Despite the serious nature of the subject matter, Kay skillfully injects humor into his storytelling. He uses comedy as a coping mechanism, providing much-needed relief from the challenging realities of working in the medical profession. Kay’s ability to find humor in the darkest of situations helps both doctors and readers to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of healthcare while maintaining their resilience and sanity.

  5. The Personal Cost of Providing Healthcare “This Is Going to Hurt” highlights the personal sacrifices that doctors make for the sake of their patients’ well-being. Kay weaves his own personal anecdotes, showcasing moments of grief, guilt, and loss experienced by healthcare professionals. He illustrates the deep impact, both positive and negative, that the medical profession has on doctors’ personal lives, relationships, and mental health.

Overall, Adam Kay’s book offers a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of the demanding reality of healthcare professionals, the flaws within the healthcare system, and the personal sacrifices made in the pursuit of providing quality patient care. The book’s blend of humor and heartbreak makes it an engaging and enlightening read that not only entertains but also encourages readers to reflect on the crucial role of healthcare professionals and the urgent need for reform within the healthcare system.


Target Audience

The book “This is Going to Hurt: Now a major BBC comedy-drama” by Adam Kay is targeted at a diverse audience interested in gaining insight into the realities of the medical profession. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Medical Professionals and Students This book serves as a candid and relatable portrayal of the challenges faced by doctors, making it an invaluable read for those already in the field or aspiring to become healthcare professionals. Kay’s honest account sheds light on the ups and downs of the profession, providing a realistic perspective that can help medical professionals feel seen and understood.

  • General Readers Seeking Understanding of Healthcare System “This is Going to Hurt” provides a unique window into the inner workings of the NHS and the broader healthcare system. It offers readers a better understanding of the pressures faced by doctors, the bureaucratic hurdles, and the impact of resource shortages. This insight can help foster empathy and spark discussions around healthcare reform.

  • Individuals Interested in Memoirs and Personal Reflection As a compelling memoir, “This is Going to Hurt” appeals to those who enjoy personal narratives and introspection. Kay’s storytelling combines humor and heartbreak, creating an emotional journey that resonates with readers. It offers a glimpse into the personal sacrifices made by doctors, making it a thought-provoking read for a wide range of individuals.

  • Supporters of NHS and Healthcare Advocates The book is recommended for those who are passionate about healthcare and have a particular interest in supporting the NHS. By portraying the challenges faced by doctors, “This is Going to Hurt” highlights the importance of adequately resourcing and valuing the healthcare system. It encourages readers to engage with the topic and advocate for the improvement of healthcare services.

In conclusion, “This is Going to Hurt: Now a major BBC comedy-drama” is recommended reading as it captivates a diverse audience interested in gaining insight into the realities of the medical profession. It offers a unique blend of humor and heartfelt storytelling that makes the book accessible and engaging for medical professionals, general readers, memoir enthusiasts, and healthcare advocates alike. Whether seeking personal reflection, a better understanding of healthcare systems, or inspiration for healthcare reform, this book is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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