Review: Scrubbed by Dr. Nikki Stamp


Title: Scrubbed

Author: Dr Nikki Stamp

Published: 1st May 2022, Allen & Unwin 

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Allen & Unwin 


My Thoughts:

“How did this happen? How did I get here? Hell, how did we all get here? It’s almost unfathomable that a group of people who largely started on this pathway in medicine and surgery could be anything other than kind. After all, we exist every day to make people better. What happens to make people do the exact opposite?”

Scrubbed is an honest and thought-provoking account of Dr Nikki Stamp’s career in medicine and her journey from an idealistic student to a disillusioned surgeon.

Nikki Stamp dreamed of becoming a surgeon from childhood. She endured the hard work of medical school, the punishing regime of residency, and gained a place in the prestigious fellowship program to become one of three female cardiothoracic surgeon’s in Australia, only to step away after twenty odd years to save her sanity.

Dr Stamp is not the only health professional in recent years to draw attention to the problems in the culture of the Australian medical system. I am infuriated and exhausted by the archaic, and often toxic environment, Stamp describes. Not just the prevailing culture of misogyny, but also the unreasonable, and sometimes dangerous practices, passed off as ‘tradition’ that excuses unrealistic expectations, exploitation, harassment and bullying.

I’m not at all surprised that Dr Stamp’s mental health suffered under such unrelenting pressures, and leaving her career is not just a great personal loss for Nikki, but also for those patients who may have otherwise benefited from her hard earned expertise. Such attrition, which it seems is widespread, is shameful, and completely preventable.

While the CoVid pandemic has highlighted funding and staffing problems across the spectrum of health services, from hospitals to general practice, and the stress this places on medical professionals, it’s clear that they are but two of many systemic issues plaguing the service.

I’m glad Dr Stamp has found a new passion, and is happier and healthier for it, but I remain angry at the reluctance of the system to change despite the benefits it would clearly provide to everyone, health professionals, patients and society at large.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$32.99

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Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Medical memoir