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This Is Going To Hurt Adam Kay Review

This is Going to Hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay was published in 2017 by Picador.

It’s an account of the author’s years as a junior doctor undergoing his training at hospitals under the National Health Service in London.

This hilarious and poignant memoir is a must-read for anyone in the medical profession and an eye-opener for those who aren’t.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

This Is Going To Hurt By Adam Kay Book Cover Robin Storey storeylines.com

Reviews For This Is Going To Hurt

This memoir was an instant Sunday Times #1 bestseller upon publication and has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.

It won four UK national book awards, including Book of the Year.

 Here are some of the rave reviews:
‘Painfully funny. The pain and the funniness somehow add up to something entirely good, entirely noble, and entirely lovable.’ (Stephen Fry, actor and author)
‘Hilarious and heartbreaking...I howled, yelped, and occasionally choked with laughter...This book may hurt, but in an important and necessary way.' (Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times (London))  
‘This book is heartbreaking, hilarious and truly important. I believe in its humanity, its spirit and its conscience. The best doctor's visit you will ever have.’ (Rose McGowan, actress, activist, and New York Times bestselling author of Brave)

This Is Going To Hurt Synopsis

The inside cover blurb sums it up well:

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships. Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.'

Kay starts his story after his first 6 years of medical studies. 


It spans the next 6 years he spent on London hospital wards completing his training and advancing through the ranks from house officer to senior registrar.

Dear Diary

Most of the book is written in diary fashion, as the events are taken directly from the diary entries he made while on the job.

He chronicles not only the interesting and sometimes mind-boggling cases he is presented with, but also how the long hours, lack of sleep and sheer volume of work affects his emotions, mental health and relationships.

Although the book is not politically motivated, it is, in its very nature, a scathing indictment of how doctors are treated in the UK National Health Service.

Adam Kay's Writing Style

Because the book is written in diary form, the style of writing is conversational and easy to read.

Kay pulls no punches expressing his thoughts and opinions, which results in the occasional four-letter word, so you’ve been warned if that offends you.

Many of the patients’ stories are both heart-breaking and hilarious, and Kay knows how to portray both at the same time without overdoing it.

He has a clever, sardonically amusing turn of phrase – I laughed out loud in several places - and his comedic timing is perfect. (That probably explains why he is now a comedy script writer).

Examples Of Adam's Humour

Discharging a patient home after a laparoscopy, I sign her off work for two weeks. She offers me a tenner to sign her off for a month…I clearly need to dress smarter if that’s the level of bribe I’m attracting.

In an antenatal clinic, an extremely posh patient attends for a routine appointment… Her extremely posh eight-year-old asks her a question about the economy and before she answers, she asks her extremely posh five-year-old, ’Do you know what the economy is, darling?.

'Yes mummy, it's the part of the plane that's terrible.'

You can see how revolutions start.'

In the labour ward dressing rooms after a long shift. (which included a major obstetric haemorrhage). I’m meant to be going to a Halloween Party, but now I don’t have time to go home and pick up my costume. However, I am currently dressed in scrubs and splattered head to toe in blood. Would it be so wrong?'

Some stories are just plain jaw-dropping (I’m amazed at the variety of objects that seemingly normal people insert into their bodily orifices).  

Others are gory and stomach-churning, so I wouldn’t recommend you read the book while eating

Handy Footnotes

Kay also includes handy footnotes to explain medical scenarios or terminology, accompanied by his own witticisms. 

For example: 

PV is a per vagina examination. PR is a per rectum examination, so always clarify when someone tells you they work in PR.

Curry can’t induce labour. Nor can pineapple. Not can sex. There is no scientific evidence for these three perennial old wives’ tales. I presume they were dreamt up by the inventor of the pineapple madras when he was horny

About Author Adam Kay

Author Of This Is Going To Hurt Adam Kay

Author Of This Is Going To Hurt Adam Kay

Adam Kay was born in 1980 in Brighton in the UK.  

He grew up in a Jewish household with his sister Sophie and as his father was a doctor, studying medicine was a default decision.

He is of Polish descent, his original name being Strykowski.

As he explains in the book, it’s pronounced ‘Strike-off-ski,’ which is not the most suitable name for a doctor.

Kay attended all-boys school Dulwich College, then studied medicine at Imperial College London, graduating in 2004. 


He spent the next 6 years training as a doctor in the hospitals, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Destined For Comedy

It seems that comedy and writing were always going to be his future.

While at University he founded the musical comedy group Amateur Transplants and wrote for BBC Radio 4.

In 2010 Kay left the medical profession, after a traumatic experience that he recounts in the book.

He is now a comedy script writer and editor – a lot less pressure and much more enjoyment, I suspect, and he’s now saving lives by making people laugh.

He’s written scripts for shows such as Mrs Brown’s Boys, Crims and Mitchell and Webb.

This is Going to Hurt is being developed as a series for BBC Two Television, with Kay as the scriptwriter and Ben Whishaw in the lead role.

He also tours with his highly acclaimed standup show.

Kay lives in London with his partner James Farrell.

Adam Kay Interviews

Adam Kay Interview With Guardian Journalist Hannah Beckerman

Photo above courtesy of Andy Hall.

Adam Kay On Youtube/TV

Kay talks about his time as a junior doctor in this TV interview on This Morning.

This Is Going To Hurt Review Conclusion

I highly recommend this book. It’s had over 21 000 ratings on Amazon, with an average 4.5 stars (out of 5) rating. They can’t all be wrong!

I defy anyone to read it and not be moved, amused and horrified all at the same time.

And you’ll learn lots of interesting medical facts as well. (Unless you’re a doctor and already know them, in which case it will be good revision)

This Is Going To Hurt

This Is Going To Hurt By Adam Kay Book Cover Robin Storey storeylines.com

Other Books By Adam Kay

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas The Night Before Christmas By Adam Kay Book Cover

Kay's Anatomy


Kays Anatomy By Adam Kay Book Cover

Dear NHS, 100 Stories To Say Thank You

Dear NHS 100 Stories To Say Thank You By Adam Kay Book Cover

Read more of Robin's memoir reviews here. For more fiction book reviews, click here.


About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She has written 8 books of her own and ghostwritten many life stories and memoirs. Her latest fiction novel, Obsesssion - A Crime of the Heart, is now available online.

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