Book Review: This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
by Adam Kay

Publication date: April 19th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (first published September 7th 2017)
Pages: 280


Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands. 

Source: Goodreads


I asked for this book for Christmas after hearing so many good reviews and I’m glad to say that I’ve not been disappointed.

I’m not usually one for non-fiction but “This is Going to Hurt” is a genuinely interesting collection of stories which is somehow funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Set out like a diary, this book follows author Adam Kay as he ascends through the ranks within in the hospital, from his first day after graduation to becoming a consultant. His diary entries are frank and honest, highlighting both the wonders and the struggles of the NHS.

I really enjoyed reading this one, from the comedic anecdotes of strange things inserted into strange places, to the timely reminder of what a fantastic resource the NHS is. I’d say that I’ve had my fair share of experience in hospitals, but when I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the journey that the consultants I’ve seen have taken to get where they are today and reading this book has certainly made me think a little more about the sacrifices they’ve likely made along the way.

“So I told them the truth: the hours are terrible, the pay is terrible, the conditions are terrible; you’re underappreciated, unsupported, disrespected and frequently physically endangered. But there’s no better job in the world.” 

Kay writes in short, snappy and witty paragraphs that keep you interested even when he’s talking about something pretty technical – I think I’ve actually learned a fair amount too! I finished this book in a little over 24 hours so that must be saying something, it’s not often I’m raring to read on a Saturday morning!

One thing I will say though is that this book certainly isn’t for the fainthearted, don’t give this a go if you’re a bit squeamish! As I’m sure you can imagine, doctors see some terrible things, and Kay isn’t afraid of going into detail some times.

“As the patient flailed around, resisting this awful thing going down his throat, the blood jetted everywhere: on me, on Hugo, on the walls, curtains, ceiling. It was like a particularly avant-garde episode of Changing Rooms.” 

Overall rating: “This is Going to Hurt” is funny, it’s heartwarming and it’s heartbreaking. The NHS today is struggling and Adam Kay has helped a lot of people understand this a little more than they might have before. Get ready to laugh out loud and learn a fair amount of terminology too! It’s 5 stars from me!

See my other reviews of books by Adam Kay here:

4 thoughts on “Book Review: This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

  1. I’m glad you liked this one, I agree with everything you said about it in this review. One event in particular I found completely shocking and I went cold all over. It’s not often a book will do that to me. I’m pleased this book has got so much attention because it emphasises the importance of the NHS and also that humour gets people through some awful situations.

    Liked by 1 person

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