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So, you like the sound of being addressed as Dr So-and-So. But do you know what it’s really like to be a doctor? There are plenty of books written by medical professionals that will help you get an idea of what life as a doctor is really like. Here are some books recommended by current Oxford medics to help improve your understanding and boost your personal statement.

Max Pemberton – Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor

A famous insight into the life of a junior doctor, this is a great first read if you are deciding whether or not you can see yourself living this life in a few years! Also, Pemberton’s book Where Does It Hurt, is useful reading as well.

Ben Goldacre – Bad Science

This is an entertaining book, that reveals the frauds sold to us by Instagram models plugging their latest detox tea or muscle building shake. Goldacre reflects on how the media misunderstands science, and how we are all being hoodwinked into believing ‘bad science’. Although not incredibly theoretical and technical it is interesting, and a good read to help you understand why the voices of professional medics are so important.

Nick Edwards – In Stitches

This book focuses entirely on life in A&E, and the NHS and its essential role in today’s society. It takes a political slant on the role of the NHS, and its importance, and is one to read if you want an honest review of being a public health service doctor.

Kate Granger – The Other Side

This is a harrowing read, focusing on terminal illnesses. Granger documents the experience of a junior doctor giving a terminal diagnosis, and the psychological and physical effects this causes.

Henry Marsh – Do No Harm

Marsh gives his memoirs of being a brain surgeon, also allowing the reader an insight into this complex and vital specialisation. If you are interested in the genuine life of a high-pressured doctor, as well as want to learn more about surgery: this is the book for you.

Adam Kay – This Is Going to Hurt

This is a painfully honest account of life as a junior doctor in the NHS. It is funny and emotional, but also provides a lot of useful information about day to day medical issues witnessed in A&E.

There are also fictional books which will give you an insight into the medical profession. Here’s a couple of recommendations:

  • Tamara Stone, Every Last Word
  • Firestone, The Loose Ends List


Of course, you won’t know what being a doctor is really like until you actually become a doctor. But it’s good to have at least some idea! If you’re interested in a Medicine degree, though, just reading about doctors isn’t enough – you’ll need some form of medical work experience. Take a look at our complete guide to medical work experience, and how you should work it into your personal statement.