New Medical Drama on TV

The TV channel ITV is turning the life of a compelling and egotistical neurosurgeon into a TV drama, “Monroe”! Actor James Nesbitt stars as a fabulous and unusual neurosurgeon dealing with life or death situations every day as his life cut across lives of patients, trainees and colleagues. “Monroe’s” unusual personality and behaviour does not allow anyone to forget his brilliance or deficiencies. All takes place in modern urban hospital.

The series is being shot in Leeds. One of the props in the ward is (guess what?) “The Neurosurgeon’s Handbook”. Between the shootings James Nesbitt (right in the photo) had the opportunity to pose with my book. I’m glad that both actors fully endorse my book! ;-)

James Nesbitt (right) proudly endorses my book with another actor (thinking, "I wish I could remember my lines!" before start shooting for "Monroe" the new medical drama on ITV.

Back to London, we hosted the autumn Intercollegiate Examination in Neurosurgery at Queen Square last month. That is, people who were training non-stop for 6-8 years in neurosurgery were “publicly examined” to see whether they could operate and take responsibility of patients independently. When I say publicly I use the traditional lingo of the Royal College of Surgeons to denote a board of experienced examiners. Tough job for trainees! And tough task for examiners!

Normally this examination should be easy to pass. Neurosurgical trainees are being taught daily and perform clinical duties daily so it should be very easy to pass the exam, right? Not quite! Pass rates varies from 40 to 60%. Nearly all trainees are very conscious of being examined by strange, unknown people (or often by people they already know).

It’s fascinating how human beings allow our performance to be affected by what other people might think of us! I find this extraordinary! One person with the same skills, the same knowledge, the same abilities, the same personality, can perform differently at different times only based on the fact of whether he or she is being “judged” or merely observed!  Unbelievable! Fortunately both of our Queen Square candidates  were successful (phweee) :-)

I still remember (very, very clearly!) the day I passed my own exit exam, sometime in the spring of 2006. The successful candidates got to go upstairs to exchange pleasantries with examiners while sipping champagne. You feel “I am in” member of the most exclusive club there is, the club of the only people who can operate on the human brain, the most amazing and most complex structure in the known universe! For most neurosurgeons this could be the start of an extraordinary life!    

Two of my trainees and me (the one with the flashy hat!) in the Operating Theatre 3 at Queen Square, November 2010.

Time flies and before you know it your life touches the lives of thousands of people every year, very young and extremely old, ridiculously rich and unbelievably poor, professors of philosophy or economics and street cleaners and of course everything in between. People at the extremes of life, either with a bit of neck or back pain or people suddenly hit by rare aggressive tumours, blood clots and paralysing diseases, trying to find courage and pull through while their lives have turned upside down. I sometimes think that what we experience in a single day more than an average person can experience in a lifetime.

I am usually a bit less worried when operating!

 One day (I hope not too long from now), I will publish in a book some of the unbelievable patient stories that I saw, some of the lessons they taught me and some of the amazing people I met. I will keep you posted!

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