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ARTICLES

EDITOR's CHOICE: Write away doctors

Authors: Peter Cross 

Publication date:  09 Jun 2007


I'm telling everyone to go and see the film The Painted Veil, perhaps the best movie I've seen this year. What has this excellent vehicle for Naomi Watts and Edward Norton got to do with doctors and medical careers? And what has this fictitious story of a bacteriologist who loses his life in a Chinese cholera outbreak in the 1920s to do with medical careers and doctoring?

The answer is that the book, even darker and better than the film, was written by Somerset Maugham, a medical student at St Thomas' Hospital before becoming a full time writer and dramatist. He wasn't the first doctor writer and certainly isn't the last. Writing has been a great second string to the bows of many doctors, and we are grateful for this. One such medic is Neville Goodman, whose mini-masterpieces in Career Focus I have raved about previously. I did so before I had seen the selection of photos he'd sent in to accompany the series. We now have not only his life in medicine but also his life in haircuts.

How far Omar Najin and Steven Powell will pursue a second career in writing is unknown, but the feature that starts on this page suggests real promise. “Wax, snot, and spit” has quite a Churchillian ring to it, even if what the authors are saying is that ENT surgeons deal with rather more than these three bodily excretions.

Peter Cross editor Career Focus  pcross@bmj.com

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