Undoctored is the brilliant memoir from Adam Kay. He is the doctor turned comedic writer who came to many people’s attention due to publishing his hospital diaries – This is Going to Hurt – in 2018. His signature hilarious writing style is present here in Undoctored too, but it blends with some serious, heart-breaking moments to give us a memoir full of depth and layers.
Opening sentence: You know what it’s like when you’re cutting up a dead body.
A doctor’s life… or not
I am determined to read more non-fiction in 2023 and am off to a great start with this read. Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients (to give it its full title) does have more (brilliant) anecdotes from Adam’s time as a doctor but also shares key moments from Adam’s life from when he was training to be a doctor, why he chose to leave the profession and carving out his comedy writing career.
There are so many genuine laugh like a loon moments in this book. His mother does not take to his new career as a comedian and lives in hope he’ll change his mind by dropping not so subtle hints. But there are also gasp moments when you understand some very difficult situations Adam’s been through.
When you stop being a doctor
Not being, or knowing anyone that is, a doctor, I found learning all the facts about the stark rules of the training (societal alongside the literal knowledge) and pressures of the job really interesting. He talks about how doctors have a natural dark sense of humour to help them cope and how all individuality is pretty much stripped away.
Week one and we were learning to fold and pack away our most human feelings.
A doctor quitting the profession (especially when they come from a family of doctors, as Adam does, his dad is a GP) is a big move. The years of literal blood, sweat and tears that went into training is no mean feat, so moving on from all that is massive.
(Although given the poor state of the NHS at the moment, it’s not hard to see why so many doctors would want to leave – it must be so hard, training for a career you’re passionate about, only to not get the adequate money or support to see it through. It’s so sad – the NHS is an amazing institution and should get so much more support.)
In Undoctored, Adam Kay is open, honest and reveals he has been through a lot. He translates his experiences to the page in a really emotive, funny and personable way. A great memoir that also gives important insight into the way doctors are treated.
- Get your copy of Undoctored here;
- Published by Orion September 2022;
- 274 pages;
- My rating: