Junior Doctors: is it career suicide?

Claire Webb asks the opinion of a doctor and a medical student as the BBC3 documentary comes to a close

As ratings-winner Junior Doctors concludes, with enough calamities and casualties to keep the scriptwriters of Holby City in ideas for a decade, we wondered what the professionals made of it all – and discovered they’re as hooked as we are.


“Watching some of these hapless individuals go about their work is akin to watching a car crash,” sighs Dr Penelope Young who, like many of her colleagues, hasn’t been able to tear her eyes away. “Sometimes they appear to be ignorant, unsympathetic, spoiled and even rude. For the record, it is not your patient’s fault if you cannot take blood from them!”

Could she have been tempted in front of the cameras? “Making the step from final year medical student to my first job was a terrifying experience. Why anyone would want to add to that pressure by living in a house with a group of strangers and allowing a TV crew follow you around, is beyond me. It must take some specific character traits  one of which seems to be stupidity.”

More pragmatically, Dr Young suspects it’s tantamount to career suicide. “Considering the programme airs to the general public and possibly your future colleagues, I would assume you would be out to make a good impression. It is fortunate for the Junior Doctors that I am not responsible for employing them — in my opinion, many nails have gone in the coffins of their careers.”

“It portrays junior doctors in a bad light,” complains 21 year-old medical student Gregory Pegg. “The BBC obviously pick the most outspoken, obnoxious weirdos. It shows them as incompetent fools.“ It’s not just the fumbling, bumbling fledgeling doctors that concern him.“ There’s generous amounts of small talk among ward staff, most of it bitchiness about how terrible X’s technique was and how awful Y is. It increases the anxiety levels by a few levels in every medical student who watches it – which is just unnecessary!”

Don’t turn off just yet, Gregory – the Junior Doctors are not all doomed. “There is one who I am a little bit in love with,” confesses Dr Young. “Lucy is kind, compassionate and sensible. If she turns up as one of my new junior colleagues, I would be very happy.” For the rest, she has some sage advice: “You cannot give patient’s details to strangers at the end of the phone line! Tie your hair back before dangling it in a sterile field! Wear gloves!”

Who is your favourite? How would you feel if one of the Junior Doctors turned up at your bedside?


Junior Doctors: Your Life In Their Hands is on Tuesdays at 9pm, BBC3