Humour can be a useful tool. If you use it well, you can charm a patient and win over a senior, but if a joke is based on the misfortune of a patient, you can risk his or her dignity. In the first article of our new series on ethical dilemmas, Daniel Sokol and Deborah Bowman, senior lecturers in medical ethics and law at St George’s Medical School in London, explain that cracking a joke is not without dangers (http://student.bmj.com/issues/09/01/life/008.php).
German medical students are not happy, explains Annette Tuffs in our news feature this month. A recent study has shown that 70% of them consider leaving the country once they have qualified. Most students are not exposed to the wards until their fifth year and are then expected to perform procedures for which they have had no formal teaching. The changing healthcare system has also brought fears of long and