25 things you only understand if you’re a doctor

'If you’re completely honest with yourself, you still don’t really get what the spleen does'

1) You’re not by nature a violent person, but you’ve woken up in the night with complex, murderous thoughts about Jeremy Hunt.

2) Were it not for nurses and pharmacists watching your every move you probably would have killed 70% of the patients you saw in your first year.

3) You’re uncomfortable with friends who say ‘oh not really, YOU save lives’ when you remark on how interesting or worthy their job sounds. With a few exceptions, saving lives is not what you’re doing most of the time.

4) You’ve developed a certain sense of smell and can diagnose all sorts of conditions based on that. Very often you wish you didn’t have it.

5) It’s really hard asking someone for the first time if you can stick a finger up their bottom. In fact, asking to do any procedure for the first time is really difficult without giving away the fact that you haven’t a clue what you’re doing.

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6) The norm is to be unwell. Having a spot, or a bit of pain in the toe, or a cough, or a mild headache; these are part of being a normal human being. Society and the media tell people that 100% perfectly healthy is the norm – that’s a lie.

7) Often you know what’s wrong with someone by asking them questions but you examine them anyway because people suspect if you haven’t touched them you can’t possibly know what’s wrong.

8) You’re not actually as clever as non-doctors think you are.

9) ‘Modern Medicine’ is not modern at all. We still give people poison for cancer, willow bark for headaches, chalk for upset tummies, and we hold together broken bones with bits of cloth.

10) You hate people presuming that because you’re a doctor you’re loaded (see point number 1 for more details.)

11) Most people are hypochondriacs.

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12) If you’re a GP you really wish your appointments were longer than 10 minutes. A lot of issues – such as pelvic exams or mental health issues – just need more time.

13) Waiting times are so long in A&E because of all the people sitting in the waiting room, not because of a lack of effort from the doctors and nurses. Is it really an EMERGENCY? If not, people should wait for the GP or see their Pharmacist.

14) Verbal abuse is the norm in A&E. You don’t know anyone else who’s called the C word, or told to F-off at least twice a day, almost everyday, whilst doing their job.

15) You’re always a little puzzled when severely overweight people come and see you asking why they might be short of breath.

16) If you were in a plane crash, or the apocalypse hit, people might feel relieved because they’d found themselves with a doctor. But you know you’d actually be pretty much useless (with the exception of some A&E doctors). Most of you order blood tests, hand out tablets and take X-rays. Paramedics know what to do in the wilderness – find one of them.

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17) Most of the general public are awful. Not you, the other ones…

18) You find it annoying when employers and schools tell people with self-limiting conditions to just ‘get a letter from your doctor’ – employment bodies tell you that you shouldn’t be doing this as it wastes appointments, but you often end up doing this anyway as it’s not really the patient’s fault.

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19) Patients think you’re a model of professionalism while extracting something embarrassing from an awkward place, but you’ll definitely have a giggle about it later.

20) It’s actually really difficult when a patient can’t speak English. If you get the diagnosis wrong they can (and sometimes do) sue you for malpractice. And for things like radiology appointments, interpreters must be booked beforehand at £40 an hour and sometimes the patient just doesn’t show up.

21) If you’re completely honest with yourself, you still don’t really get what the spleen does.

22) If you’re a woman you find it incredibly annoying being mistaken for a nurse.

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23) People believe because you’re a doctor you don’t get affected by particularly sad cases. You can and you do.

24) The anesthetists among you despair that the most common reason for children being put under risky general anaesthetic is for dental extractions due to a high sugar diet and not brushing their teeth.

25) That whole ‘putting yourself on a drip to recover from a hangover’ is not a myth.

With thanks to the 30 hardworking, brilliant doctors who contributed to this feature and who have definitely never used precious NHS resources to recover from a hangover.

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