What did I gain in my training?

First, I had mastered the practical basis of my profession, the art and craft of Medicine, which begins and develops only after a man leaves University and Hospital.

Secondly, I had endured an extremely severe training and initiation: the very best I could have had. It not only made one exact, punctual, and methodical; but taught one to “thole” hardship, exposure, disappointment, and sorrow without complaint. It also taught me the value of initiative, and the lifelong habit of self-reliance when in difficulty.

During these years I learned, besides many practical matters such as expert horsemanship, to be silent when necessary, to keep my own counsel, and to confide in no one; to believe nothing that I heard, and only half of what I saw! I learned also to  be patient under the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of all manner of patients; I endeavoured to be helpful and sympathetic; above all, I strove to develop and sustain a sense of humour- not the least vital asset in professional life!

A post-training reflective from Extracts from Leaves From the Life of A Country Doctor, Clement Bryce Gunn. (Foreword by John Buchan)


The culture in medical practice amongst doctors, students and other healthcare staff is a special one. No matter where one goes to practice Medicine different from their ‘natural habitat’, the medical team shares an unspoken code of conduct, a common tongue of medical jargon and a dutiful approach, albeit the several differences in medical practice.

Although the recipe to become a good and competent doctor has become more complex over the years, the basic ingredients seem to remain the same. The extract is a more literary version of a small fraction of what’s mentioned in the GMC’s guideline to Good Medical Practice on knowledge, skills and performance. Beyond the scope of this particular extract, Clement Gunn eloquently writes about his life as a medical student and physician, almost as though he had foresight on his book’s success.

Dr Clement Bryce Gunn was a physician-writer who was born in Edinburgh. In 1885, he moved to start a medical practice in Peebles, a county of Scotland, few miles South of Edinburgh. The differences in practice at the borders- then and now, may be identifiable by those who have experienced Medicine at the Borders. With descriptions of cultural practices, traditions and even the weather, Dr Gunn gives us an unsparing account of what it was like to practice Medicine back in the day.

Further info

  • Clement Gunn – A brief description of Dr Gunn’s personality from the history of Peebles website
  • A secondhand copy of the book “Leaves From the Life of A Country Doctor” could be ordered online
  • Link to GMC’s guideline for Good Medical Practice
  • Image: Dr. Clement Bryce Gunn (date unknown)

Contributed by

Lekaashree Rambabu

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