Looking back at his medical training, this author describes how innocence carried with it the capacity to be hurtful and insensitive in many areas of practice that were thought to be modelled on the conduct of ‘better’ clinicians.
Up to the late 1960s probably most medical schools in British Commonwealth countries provided very little undergraduate training and experience in the important subtleties of medical practice. We emerged as very naive junior professionals, poorly trained in practical procedures. Paternalistic practice was the accepted mode, and varying degrees of arrogance characterised doctor–patient interactions. However, there were some older consultants and general practitioners who remembered the shattering of their own innocence and sought to help us on the basis of their own embarrassing experiences.