On the Couch


Gary Finnegan, Editor, Irish Medical News

Personal/family: One girlfriend, Liz, two parents, one sister and a dog, Ben.

What figure from the world of medicine/health do you most admire?

I'm intimidated by the breadth of knowledge of people like Dr Michael Boland, director of the Postgraduate Resource Centre at the Irish College of GPs. I thought I knew a thing or two about how general practice works until I interviewed him recently. In general, I have great respect for NCHDs/junior doctors who work incredibly long hours.

What other career might you have chosen?

My primary degree is in physiology but I found lab work a bit tedious so I decided to study communications after that. I still have a great interest in science, although I never wanted to be a doctor!

If you were appointed Minister for Health, what would be your first priority?

Invest heavily in primary care. It offers value for money and patients also benefit. There has been too much talk about the shift towards community care without coughing up the cash.

Do you have a phobia/what is your greatest fear?

Spiders. I know that's irrational and shameful. Apart from that, I worry about not having enough original news stories for page 1.

Have you ever been a patient and were you a good one?

Yes. I had my tonsils removed when I was seven. I didn't complain as long as the fridge was well stocked with jelly and ice-cream and the A-team was on television.

What three books would you bring to a desert island?

I'm (very slowly) reading Bob Dylan's autobiography at the moment so I'd have to bring that. 1984 and Brave New World would give me plenty to think about. I'm an excruciatingly slow reader - I'm usually looking for spelling mistakes!

Have you a fail-safe method of dealing with stress?

No! Sleeping usually helps. I also pay close attention to Padraig O'Morain's columns.

What is your favourite TV or radio programme?

Scrubs is the only thing I'd set the video for. I'm a news junkie and listen to plenty of talk radio.

If you did not live in Ireland, where would you choose to spend the rest of your life?

If I brushed up on my French and found a decent job, Paris would have to top the list.

Summarise yourself in 12 words.

Friendly, helpful, talkative, lanky, accommodating, hard-working, ambitious, good-humoured, unadventurous, confident, logical, laid back.

Do you use alternative medicine/therapies?

No. Although thankfully I've never been desperate.

Who or what makes you laugh?

I rely on a few close friends, including Liz, to make me laugh out loud. If they're not around, I put on a Brasseye DVD.