by Jowan Penn-Barwell 
Consultant Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Published 30 March 2020



Traditionally Consultants have been able to relax between cases and disperse the stress associated with modern practice by complaining about their trainees. The well accepted but little examined fact that the newest generation of surgeons are lazier, more stupid, less committed than their predecessors has been augmented in recent years by the catch-all label of ‘snow-flake’. This highly adaptable and effective term has become a firm favourite amongst consultants in recent years; usually employed in the build-up to a sentence being “When I was a registrar…” 

A sudden and unexpected side effect of the international viral pandemic has been that hard-working consultants have been denied this simple pleasure by the awesome response to the crisis by their trainees. As trainees and foundation doctors have acted with bravery, adaptability and compassion, the high temples of the Joint Colleges and Specialists Associations have been forced to reluctantly issue the following statement: 

“Yeah, ok, things weren’t actually easier in our day. There weren’t viral pandemics, we could go to the pub after work and when we got home we could even wipe our arses with real toilet paper.” 

Some alternative strategies have been attempted: making sarcastic comments about the 26 year-old F2’s haircut for example. However, these efforts have been hampered by a new dependence on younger doctors for technical support for the near continuous video conferencing associated with modern practice. If you’re a 58-year old hip surgeon who needs your F2’s help to use ‘the internets’ to video-conference it’s hard to then mock their choice of hair dye colours and/or facial piercings. 

Sadly, with medical students also assisting in hospitals at risk to their own health, senior leadership have been forced to issue a 5-year moratorium on the use of the phrase ‘In my day’.