Glenn Colquhoun – New Zealand GP and his poetry

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Dr. Glenn Colquhoun is a New Zealand poet and general practitioner. He lives and practices on the Kapiti Coast.

See his Wiki entry:


These two poems are from his book “Playing God: Poems about Medicine” which is published by Hammersmith Press Limited. 2002

ISBN 9781905140169



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.



And finally – Iain Lamb re-wrote the second of these poems from the perspective of a GP trainer. Here’s his comment:

Attached is my tongue in cheek effort about having a bad day as a trainer. For me very few days have been like this and I challenge you all to write a follow up “Today I want to be a trainer” as a reminder of why we keep doing the job!



Today I don’t want to be a trainer

No one wants feedback

The partners want more money

The trainees want time off

Those who were bright are thick again

Those who were thick are thicker

The failures think they will pass

The successes think they will fail

Someone has done too many COTS

Someone has done too few

The trainer is losing his patience

The trainee is losing their patients

The trainer wants to teach

The learner wants to pass

The College is making too much change

Trainers are not making enough

The CSA in February

The CSA in May

The CSA again and again

The staff thinks they are great

The patients think they are crap

Will assessment ever make sense?

They are back for a further 6 months

AND I know I’m going mad.



Can you take up Iain’s challenge?


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