Book Review: This is Going to Hurt


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

Adam Kay is a bit of a sensation in the UK. He is a comedian, author, script writer and former doctor. This is Going to Hurt, published in 2017, was his first book and was the best-selling nonfiction title of the decade in the UK. 

In the book Kay tells the story of his time as a “junior doctor” in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). While the US and UK medical systems are different, being a “junior doctor” in the UK seems roughly equivalent to going through residency for medical school grads in the US.

I first heard of Adam Kay, and this book, when he and it were talked about by family members on our trip to Australia earlier this year. 

By then Kay had already translated the book into the script for an eight-part TV series for the BBC, starring Ben Wishaw.  It was in Australia in June that I picked up this book, in a paperback tie-in to the BBC series. The TV series has also been picked up in the US by the AMC+ streaming service, and the book is also available in the US as a paperback tie-in.

The strength of this book is its immediacy. It’s taken from (and laid out in the book as) a series of diary entries that Kay kept between 2004 and 2010 as he moved through the ranks of junior doctor-dom, and into a specialization in obstetrics. While he obscures patient names and changes dates to help protect the privacy of the patients he saw, the tales he relates are true. They really happened, and Kay retells them in  a way that is hilarious, disturbing, heartbreaking and intensely page-turning. He delivers an inside look at what it's like to spend eighty or ninety hours a week for months at a time, as a young doctor on rotation.

Kay’s story takes place in NHS hospitals, in a medical system under financial stress due to governmental budget cuts pre-pandemic. In the preface and afterward in the tie-in paperback, he acknowledges the additional stress that COVID has placed on the medical system, and laments what he feels is the lack of support that is driving many doctors and nurses out of practice.

I loved this book. If any of what I’ve said sounds interesting I’d encourage you to seek it out, or at a minimum check out the TV series.

RATING: Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Find this book on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Powell’s | ThriftBooks |

Title: This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Author: Adam Kay


Publish Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN-13: 9780063228498

Publisher’s List Price: No Publisher Website