Domhnall MacAuley: Medicine, marriage, and a bright future

Domhnall Macauley

There were enough doctors to run a medium sized hospital. Doctors in training in almost every specialty- I could identify those in paediatrics, obstetrics, cancer care, and ophthalmology, but most were from general practice. There was an overall air of understated professional competence and they were comfortable in each other’s company; as might have been expected from a group who knew each other as students or had all worked together at different times, in different hospitals, and different countries. Confident, self assured, high achievers.

It was a wedding- a great weekend, and a superb party. There were speeches from the bride and    groom, best man, and bridesmaid (all doctors), together with both fathers. Articulate, witty, engaging, relaxed. They linked their time spent together in voluntary work in Haiti, trips to India, as medical students in Dublin, working together as junior doctors in Australia, and as colleagues in different parts of the country. The bride’s decision to study medicine was borne from the tragedy of the Omagh bomb in her home town and this wedding brought together people from different parts and religions in Ireland and guests from around the world. I chatted to younger medical colleagues who applauded the changes in medicine that brought more consultant led care and who looked forward to being more hands-on when they too became consultants. And, discussing how times had changed, a contemporary reflected on the “in my day” attitude that perpetuated dysfunctional training when we were students and applauded these younger colleagues who had agitated for change.

Weddings should be a celebration. But, it was more. At a time when junior doctors are constantly criticised for their attitudes, manner, and behaviour, it was such a privilege to meet such a bunch of bright, modest, gentle, interesting, and interested people. I came away uplifted, optimistic, and reassured. It was of course, a group of friends in a relaxed environment far from patient care – who could judge how they might be at work. But, if this was any reflection of their professional life, the future of medicine is much brighter than is usually portrayed.

Competing interest: I was a guest at the wedding- the groom is my wife’s nephew.

Domhnall MacAuley is primary care editor, BMJ