Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors is a compact little book that does exactly what it says on the tin. It started in 2014 out of a swell of support and kindness from doctors themselves, and some of the people who care about them, and was given free to all medical students on or around their graduations in Scotland in 2014 and 2015. After such a warm reception for the first edition, we’ve just published a second, to be given to graduating students in 2016, 2017 and 2018, this time with extra and very welcome support from the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland, and The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.
The editors – Dr Lesley Morrison, Dr John Gillies, Revd Ali Newell and Kate Hendry – have revised and expanded the contents, and with the help of Amy McDonald here at the SPL and poet and editor Gerry Cambridge on the typesetting and design, the crisp new book is packed with poems that relate to the experience of being a junior doctor. Dr Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP Scotland, commented: ‘It is always wonderful to welcome new colleagues into the profession. Tools of the Trade provides a great way of doing just that, emphasising how at the heart of every medical consultation sit people. The compassion these poems represent will, I hope, underpin every medical career.’ As the editors wrote in their introduction, this is a book to act as a friend and as a reminder of compassion that is at the heart of being a good doctor – not only the compassion they need to treat patients, but the compassion that every doctor must remember to show themselves in order to stay resilient in a job that is so much more than a job.
For the second edition, the editors invited suggestions of poems to be included, whether from the poets themselves or from readers. They were so impressed with the poems suggested that, although they couldn’t include all of them in this very small book, they’ve made a selection to publish on the website. You can read these evocative poems, by Ruth Arnison, Carole Bromley, Miles Burrows, Gill Garrett, David Gilbert, Lawrence Hergott, Olive M. Ritch and Jay Whittaker – many of whom write from their experiences in healthcare or medical practice – here. You can also read a large selection of the poems in the printed anthology here.
As Dr Brendan Sweeney, Chairman of MDDUS, says: ‘MDDUS are delighted to support this project and would like to offer our warmest congratulations to all those doctors who have graduated. We hope these poems will enrich both their personal and professional lives.’ We’re specially proud that the medical schools are so supportive of this gift – not compulsory, not insisting that each and every graduate must find these poems helpful, but simply offering the chance to bring people and poems together.
‘We hope that this will be found in many doctors’ pockets,’ says the SPL’s outgoing Director Robyn Marsack, ‘alongside the stethoscope that hears the heartbeat, reaching hearts through words.’
For further information on Tools of the Trade, please contact email@example.com, or call the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DT, 0131 557 2876
This edition is now sold out, but if you’d like us to contact you when the new edition is available, please click here to leave us your email address.