Today I do not want to be a doctor

‘Today I do not want to be a doctor’ is a poem by my favorite South Auckland-born medical poet, Glenn Colquhoun. Published in ‘Playing God: Poems About Medicine’


Today I do not want to be a doctor.
Nobody is getting any better.
Those who were well are sick again
and those who were sick are sicker.
The dying think they will live.
The healthy think they are dying.
Someone has taken too many pills.
Someone has not taken enough.
A woman is losing her husband.
A husband is losing his wife.
The lame want to walk.
The blind want to drive.
The deaf are making too much noise.
The depressed are not making enough.
The asthmatics are smoking.
The alcoholics are drinking.
The diabetics are eating chocolate.
The mad are beginning to make sense.
Everyone’s cholesterol is high.
Disease will not listen to me
Even when I shake my fist.


Today I am happy to be a doctor.
Everyone seems to be getting better.
Those who were sick are not so sick
and those who were well are thriving.
The healthy are grateful to be alive.
And the dying are at peace with their dying.
No one has taken too many pills.
No one has taken too few.
A woman is returning to her husband.
A husband is returning to his wife.
The lame accept chairs.
The blind ask for dogs.
The deaf are listening to music.
The depressed are tapping their feet.
The asthmatics have stopped smoking.
The alcoholics have stopped drinking.
The diabetics are eating apples.
The mad are beginning to make sense.
Nobody’s cholesterol is high.
Disease has gone weak at the knees
I expect him to make an appointment.

Now check out…When I Am In Doubt

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Literary Medicine


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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