For regular readers of this blog it may be obvious that I have nothing original to say, but I work in the shadows (or limelight) of others who have extraordinary insight, compassion for their patients, passion for their vocation and exceptional breath and depth of thinking. All are considerably wiser, and not inconsiderably older than I.
In the absence of my own work, -I am very busy with an academic course, a young family and a very busy practice, I offer you some essays by one of the writers who most inspires me; GP and president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Iona Heath.
More than anyone, she is able to articulate what it is we GPs do. Not only does she write beautifully, but she makes me feel proud of my vocation and inspires me to excell, not for personal gain, reward or status, but in a world of ever-increasing pressures, to be the doctor my patients need.
This quote from Arundathi Roy captures much of what Iona achieves,
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”
― Arundhati Roy
There are many short pieces in the British Medical Journal which I strongly recommend, including this interview with her, though they are behind a paywall.
There is a link to her published articles here: http://www.mendeley.com/profiles/iona-heath/publications/journal/
Here are some of her most substantial essays and journal articles which are freely available:
Measuring Quality in the Therapeutic Relationship. Kings Fund 2010
The ethical implications of excessive prevention. Quaternary prevention, addressing the limits of medical practice 20th WONCA World Conference Prague 2013
Overdiagnosis: when good intentions meet vested interests. An essay by Iona Heath. BMJ October 25th 2013
An Evening with Iona Heath. Blog from Less is More Medicine 2014
Arm in Arm with Righteousness. PEHM 2015
Papers that share her vision and philosophy:
What evidence do we need for evidence based medicine? Julian Tudor Hart
The End of The Disease Era: Tinetti
Preventing overdiagnosis lecture:
Less is more: LMC Conference Feb. 2015: