Section G

Leisure Time

Note: Section G, from The House Officer's Survival Guide: Rules, Laws, Lists and Other Medical Musings, by Lawrence Martin, M.D., is written for doctors in training (who generally don't have much leisure time). However, it should also should be of interest to the general public, including practicing physicians. Please address any feedback to

Table of Contents


After completing formal medical training you will find time for other activities (at last!). For many house officers this will mean resumption of sports once enjoyed but abandoned for training; for others, it may mean taking up a brand new sport. The following information is mainly for the latter group. The list of sports is obviously not all inclusive. The comments are subjective, based on personal experiences, experiences of others, and general reading. Of course anyone could make their own comments about these sports, but I got here first.


T= time it takes to particpate, from * to ****. Only one * means you can do the activity in two hours or less, door to door; **** means you will need at least a whole day to participate. Two and three stars are in between.

$ = cost to participate, from * to ****. Assumes you already own necessary equipment, so this is cost of playing, plus cost of travel. Only one * means sport generally available locally and cheap; **** means travel usually required and therefore expensive to participate.

E = Special equipment required to participate, i.e., what you must hold in your hand or wear in order to participate. Only one * means relatively little equipment; **** means you'll need a whole lot.

P = patience factor required to enjoy sport, from * to ****.

Golf. The number one participatory sport among physicians and just about everyone else. An estimated 30,000,000 Americans play golf in some fashion. The object of golf is to send a small ball anywhere from 100 to 250 yards by hitting it with a club, then hitting the ball progressively shorter distances (with other clubs) until it falls into a little hole. The pros do this very well, which is why they are pros; note that the pros consitute only about 1 out of every 10,000 active golfers (one must wonder about a game where only 1 out of 10,000 can play it very well). In life, above par means better than average; in golf below par is better. There are four main shots in golf: driving, pitching, chipping, and putting. You will find most golfers are quite good in all areas except driving, pitching, chipping, and putting.

T *** $ ** E *** P ****

Tennis. Perhaps the number two participatory sport among doctors. To play tennis well you have to be between the ages of puberty and 25. The principal problem with tennis is that weak players miss many shots and each missed shot means a ball that has to be chased after (pros never chase their own missed shots). An estimated 92% of people who play tennis are not good. The other 8% are insufferable.

T * $ * E * P ****

Racquetball and squash. Great sports if you wear proper eye protection. The best things about these two indoor racquet sports are: 1) they are weather-independent; 2) they provide aerobic exercise; 3) the ball always comes back to you, even when you miss the shot (unlike tennis).

T * $ * E * P **

Sailing. First, two oft-quoted truisms: 1) A sailboat is a hole in the water through which you pour money. 2) The happiest two days of a sailboater's life are the day he (or she) buys the boat and the day he (or she) sells it. Sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind, which means any trip "upwind" requires tacking, a zig- zagging back and forth so the distance covered is twice what it really is (compare with motorboating). Sailing is basically two different sports: cruising and racing. Racers are a breed apart, and think nothing of spending hours at a speed of one-two knots (roughly one-two miles per hour) to beat another boat. Cruisers, on the other hand are in it for the sheer pleasure of sailing. Shear pleasure? The beauty and attraction of cruising are evident when the wind is just right, the sails are properly trimmed, the sun is shining, and any guests on the boat are not afraid of tipping over. The percentage of time these factors come together is between .01% and .02% of all trips. Note: The expense comes from owning and maintaining a boat. If you are into racing, you can crew on someone else's boat, but then that's not sport, that's work.

T *** $ **** E **** P ****

Motorboating. Same hole-in-the-water definition as the sailboat. The major difference is that motorboats are infinitely noiser and you get where you want to go infinitely faster (and in a straight line). Sailboaters (cruisers and racers) think most motorboaters are Philistines (most motorboaters couldn't sail a boat if their life depended on it). Motorboaters think most sailors are masochists (hours spent going nowhere). Both are right.

T *** $ **** E **** P **

Fishing. There are perhaps more ways "to fish" than to practice any other sport, from casting a line in a local pond to fishing off a small outboard, to deep sea fishing off a big Chris Craft. You can spend next to nothing or a small fortune (particularly if you own the boat). There are two types of fishing that seem to have the most devoted followers among professionals: fly fishing and deep sea fishing. Both require travel, and so both are expensive. Fly fishing has taken on cult status, with books written about its mystical pleasures. Deep sea fishing is a much tougher sport; it was reportedly Hemingway's favorite.

T *** $ **** E ** P ****

Hunting. It all depends on what you're hunting and where. Squirrels? Deer? Polar bears? See fishing.

T *** $ **** E ** P ****

Swimming and jogging. Bascially good aerobic exercises but boring for many people.

T * $ * E * P *

White water rafting. Choose your rapids carefully.

T **** $ ** E **** P **

Bicycling. Good aerobic sport, but beware of cars. If mountain biking, beware of mountain lions.

T * $ ** E * P *

Bowling. Long looked down upon by non-bowlers, bowling is in fact enjoyed by millions of people, and not just blue collar workers. Try hitting ten pins with one ball; it's not easy. Bowling also has some major advantages over most other sports: easily available and inexpensive.

T * $ * E * P **

Basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, et. al. Team sports. You need a team, which for busy professionals is not always easy to come by.

T ** $ * E * P **

Hot air ballooning. Expensive and, like sailing, totally dependent on the right conditions, which occur just after sunrise or just before sunset. Many trips are canceled due to poor weather conditions.

T **** $ **** E **** P ****

Skiing (downhill). The orthopedic surgeon's dream, which is why many popular resorts (Vail, Aspen, Park City) come equipped with their own full time orthopods. For most people good downhill skiing requires long distance travel to a resort, which increases the cost considerably. Also, activity is pretty much limited to cold weather months.

T **** $ *** E *** P **

Skiing (cross country). Excellent aerobic activity. Can be done in any park or open field with snow on ground. Considerably less hazardous than downhill.

T ** $ * E ** P **

Scuba Diving. Similar to downhill skiing (requires travel and lots of special equipment). Certainly, to see anything beyond your outstretched hand usually requires a trip, unless you live near coral reefs (only two states have them: Florida and Hawaii). Cold water diving (every other state) is only for cold water lovers; if you like cold water, diving opportunities (especially for wreck diving) are greatly expanded. Scuba diving has some unique risks (principally the bends, air embolism and running out of air). Nonetheless, considering the number of people who scuba dive as a sport, serious accidents are rare (as traditionally defined, recreational diving excludes diving below 130 feet and cave diving). Note that, contrary to what non-divers think, sharks are of little concern to most scuba divers; in fact sighting a shark is considered the highlight of any dive. Worldwide more people die from lightning strikes than shark attacks, and most of the attacks are on swimmers, not scuba divers. To learn a great deal more about scuba diving, check out Scuba Diving Explained, by the author, plus the following web sites:
The CyberSea Scuba Journal
Scuba Central
Aqueous Scuba
Rodale's Scuba Diving
Scuba On-Line

T **** $ *** E **** P **

Mountain climbing, hiking, treking. Very popular in states with mountains. Note that "mountain climbing" ranges from hiking up and down low to medium-sized mountains (e.g., the Appalachian range) to trekking in the Himalayas to climbing peaks like Mt. McKinley and Mt. Everest (very, very, dangerous, should you ask). Whereas the difference between top- and bottom-ranked golfers may be nothing more than ego and score, the difference between top- and bottom-ranked mountain climbers may be life and death.

T **** $ ** E ** P **

Non-participatory (Spectator) Sports

The major non-participatory or spectator sports in the U.S. (considering both attendance at games and continuous media coverage) are professional baseball, basketball, and football. To this list must be added: ice hockey; soccer (the number one spectator sport worldwide); all forms of car racing (stock and non-stock car); and thoroughbred horse racing.

Of the major spectator sports, baseball is a relatively slow and "intellectual" game (the classic pitcher-battle duel), and has probably generated more statistics than any other sport in history. Baseball's intellectual and statistical aspects are also one reason why more books are written about it (year after year) than any other spectator sport.

Football and basketball are much more physical sports than baseball, and share a common phenomenon of some import to busy physicians: the two-minute rule.

The Two-minute Rule

The last two minutes of basketball and football usually determine the outcome of the game. That is to say, either team usually has an opportunity to win the game in the last two minutes. Accordingly, these are the only two minutes worth watching (unless you really have nothing better to do). Note that the last two minutes usually take between 15 and 30 minutes as counted by a real clock. However long they take, after watching only the last two "game clock" minutes you will:


OK, so probably the last kind of movie you want to watch is one about doctors. But at least you should know what's out there, what your patients may be watching. Of course doctor movies have about as much to do with the real world as anything else produced by Hollywood. Anyway, if you are looking for medical-theme movies, here is a (by no means complete) list; all should be available on videotape.

Some recommended films (listed in chronologic order, with principal star or stars)

The Citadel (drama, 1938; Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell). Adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel of the same name, about an impoverished doctor who temporarily forsakes his ideals.

Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (horror, 1941; Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman). One of several remakes of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale about a good doctor who is transformed into a monster.

Doctor at Sea (comedy, 1955; Dirk Bogarde, Brigitte Bardot). British-made comedy about a doctor who decides to see the world by signing up as physician for a passenger-carrying freighter. He meets Bardot at sea.

Dr. Zhivago (drama, 1965; Omar Sharif, Julie Christie). Sharif is Zhivago, a doctor and poet whose personal life is torn apart by the Russian revolution.

Fantastic Voyage (science fiction, 1966; Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch). SF with a medical theme. A team of scientists is shrunk to cell size and injected into a patient in order to dissolve his brain clot, but in their journey they are attacked by the patient's defense mechanisms.

M*A*S*H (comedy, 1970; Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland). Hit movie that was forerunner of the long playing TV series, about an army field medical unit in the Korean War.

The Hospital (comedy, 1971; George C. Scott). An embittered senior physician battles the shenanigans he finds in a major New York City teaching hospital.

Awakenings (drama, 1990; Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams). Williams plays a doctor who, using an experimental drug, "awakens" long dormant patients from a catatonic state.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (drama, 1975; Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher). A convict is committed to a mental hospital, then proceeds to challenge the medical authorities. Won several academy awards.

Doc Hollywood (comedy; 1991; Michael J. Fox). Hollywood-bound doctor seeking fame and fortune instead finds love and fulfillment in rural South Carolina.

The Doctor (drama, 1991; William Hurt). A doctor develops throat cancer and, upon becoming a patient, discovers the dehumanizing aspects of modern medical care.

What about Bob? (comedy, 1991; Bill Murray, Richard Dreifuss). Dreifuss plays a psychiatrist plagued on his August vacation by a patient (Murray) who is nuttier than a fruitcake but means no harm. Many laughs, but psychiatrists will squirm and sympathize with Dreifuss's plight.

Prince of Tides (drama, 1991; Barbra Streisand). Streisand plays a psychiatrist in this adaptation of Pat Conroy's best selling novel. She tries to help the deep psychological problems of a suicidal woman.

City of Joy (drama, 1992; Patrick Swayze). Swayze plays a disillusioned young American surgeon visiting the slums of Calcutta, who reluctantly becomes involved in the residents' many troubles. Scenes of relentless squalor.

Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman (drama, 1992; Jayne Seymour). Pilot film for TV series about a Boston woman physician practicing out west in the 19th century.

Frankenstein (horror, 1992; Patrick Bergin, Randy Quaid). Latest remake of Mary Shelley's classic tale about a doctor and his monster creation.

Mr. Jones (drama, 1993; Richard Gere, Lena Olin). A manic depressive patient infatuates his hospital psychiatrist, who loses her professional ethics as she falls in love.

Outbreak (drama, 1995; Dustin Hoffman). Outbreak of an ebola-like virus threatens to devastate a community.

Some films not recommended (this list is compiled from various movie video guides, which rate these films at the bottom of the barrel )

Doctors' Wives (Drama, 1971). Focuses on seedy side of being a doctor's wife.

Doctor Gore (Horror; 1975). About a demented surgeon who, after the death of his wife, tries to assemble the perfect woman from you guessed it parts of other women.

Dr. Butcher, M.D. (Medical Deviate) (Horror, 1979). Honest, that's the title; Italian cannibal-zombie movie.

Hospital Massacre (Horror; 1982). A psycho killer murders everyone in attempt to revenge a girl who laughed at his Valentine's day card.

Classical Music

No, this section is not about physicians who were also composers (e.g., Alexander Borodin). Unlike physician-writers, the non-musical background of composers seems to have little relevance to enjoyment of their work. It matters not a bit whether Beethoven was rich or poor, deaf or blind. His music can be appreciated without knowing anything about the man.

This part is for people who want to begin exploring classical music. (If you are a regular classical music listener, there will be little new here.) For lack of time or opportunity, many young physicians seem to know little about this type of music. And I don't mean music theory but, simply, what's out there. To many busy physicians music means popular songs, rock, Broadway, folk, alternative pick your label, they are all good to listen to at various times. But I recommend you try some classical music.

Everyone has heard at least parts of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, Copeland's Appalachian Spring, Mozart's 'Elvira Madigan' piano concerto (#23), and Beethoven's 9th Symphony. These and a few other popular classical pieces are used as background music in TV and movies, and even in advertisements. They should really be listened to in their entirety.

Below and on the next two pages is a personal selection of pieces well known to classical music listeners. The list is highly selective and necessarily brief, designed merely to get you going; many excellent composers are not included. Starred composers are among the greatest ever; virtually anything they wrote is worth listening to, and I have listed the barest minimum of their work.

I don't recommend specific recordings because that is not really important. Although music reviews often emphasize the performer or orchestra, if you're just starting out the music will sound good no matter who is playing it. Buy or borrow CDs or tapes (most libraries have them).

I also don't recommend CDs that contain snippets of classical music. You should listen to each piece in its entirety. The only exception is operas, in which case excerpts will do nicely.

Don't be put off by a first hearing of any selection. On May 29, 1913 a Parisian audience rioted (the terms used at the time were "pandemonium" and "melee") upon hearing the premier performance of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, because it was so bizarre and dissonant. Now, of course, the work is main stream repertoire. So I recommend listening to each selection two or three times before giving up on it. If necessary, play it as background while you work, or listen in the car. If you have not heard this music before I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

As they say, "Try it, you'll like it."

Recommended Pieces For People Who Want to Begin Exploring Classical Music

(Listed in alphabetical order by composer)


*Bach, J.S. (1685-1750)

The Brandenburg Concertos

Concerto in D Minor, for 2 violins and strings

St. Matthew Passion

Suite No. 3 in D for Orchestra

Wachut Auf Cantata, #140


Bartok, Bela (1881-1945)

Concerto for Orchestra


*Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827)

Piano Concertos #1-5

Violin Concerto

Sonatas for piano and cello

Symphonies #1-9

Piano Sonatas #8(Pathetique), #14(Moonlight), #23 (Appasionata)

Archduke trio, Op. 97


Berlioz, Hector (1803-1869)

Symphonie Fantastique


Bizet, Georges (1838-1875)

Symphony in C

L'Arlesienne, Suites 1&2

Carmen (excerpts)


Bloch, Ernest (1880-1959)

Schelomo (Hebrew Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra)


Borodin (1833-1887)

Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor


*Brahms, Johannes (1833-1897)

Double Concerto in A minor

Violin Concerto

Serenade No. 1 in D Major

Piano Concerto # 1 and #2

Symphony #4 in E minor


Britten, Benjamin (1913-1976)

Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes"


Bruch, Max (1838-1920)

Violin Concerto No. 1


*Chopin, Frederic (1810-1849)

Piano Concertos #1 and #2

Polonaises 1-16


Copland, Aaron (1900-1990)

Appalachian Spring



Debussy, Claude (1862-1918)

La Mer


Dvorak, Antonin (1841-1904)

Concerto for cello and orchestra


Elgar, Edward (1857-1934)

Enigma Variations

Concerto for cello and orchestra


Franck, Cesar (1822-1890)

Symphony in D minor


Gershwin, George (1898-1937)

Concerto in F

Rhapsody in Blue

American in Paris

Porgy and Bess (opera)


Grieg, Eduard (1843-1907)

Piano Concerto in A minor

Holberg Suite


*Handel (1685-1759)

Concerto Grosso in D minor

Concerto in B flat major for harp and orchestra

Water Music


*Haydn, Joseph (1732-1809)

Trumpet Concerto in E flat

Quartet in D major ("Lark") Cello Concerto in C

Symphony #94 and #104


Holst, Gustav (1874-1934)

The Planets


Janacek, Leos (1854-1928)



Khachaturian, Aram (1903-1978)


Concerto for Piano and Orchestra


Lalo, Edward (1823-1892)

Symphonie Espangnole


*Liszt, Franz (1811-1886)

Piano Concertos # 1 and #2

Mephisto Waltz

Annees de Pelerinage

Hungarian Rhapsodies


Mahler, Gustav (1860-1911)

Symphonies, #1, #4 and #5

Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn


Mendelssohn, Felix (1809-1847)

Violin Concerto

Hebrides Overture

Symphony # 4


Milhaud, Darius (1892-1974)

La Creation du Monde


*Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 1756-1791)

Clarinet Concerto

Bassoon Concerto

Horn Concerti (several)

Piano Concertos #21-#25

Symphonies # 35 (Haffner), #40 and #41 (Jupiter)

Sinfonia Concertante

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Opera Arias


Mussorgsky, Modest (1839-1881)

Pictures at an Exhibition


Orff, Carl (1895-1982)

Carmina Burana


Poulenc, Francis (1899-1963)

Concert Champetre


Prokofiev, Serge (1891-1953)

Piano Concerto #3

Classical Symphony

Symphony #5


Puccini, Giacomo (1858-1924)

Excerpts from operas,(esp. Madama Butterfly)


Rachmaninoff, Sergei (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto #2 and #3

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini


Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937)

Introduction and Allegro


Pavane for a Dead Princess


Respighi, Ottorini (1879-1936)

Fountains of Rome

Pines of Rome


Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai(1844-1908)


Capriccio Espagnol


Rodrigo, Joaquin (1902- )

Concerto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra


Saint Saens, Camille (1835-1921)

Organ Symphony, No. 3

Cello Concerto in A minor

Piano Concerto #5


*Schubert, Franz (1797-1828)

Piano Quintet in A ("Trout") Fantasy in C ("Wanderer")

Symphony #8 ("Unfinished")

Symphony #9 ("Great")


Schumann, Robert (1810-1856)

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

Piano Concerto in A Minor

Symphony #3


Shostakovich, Dimitri (1906-1975)

Cello Concerto in E flat

Symphony #5


Sibelius, Jean (1865-1957)

Symphony #2

Symphony #5



Strauss, Richard (1864-1949)

Thus Sprach Zarathustra

Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks


*Stravinsky, Igor (1882-1971)

The Firebird


Rite of Spring

Pulcinella: Ballet Suite

The Soldier's Tale


*Tchaikovsky, Peter (1840-1893)

Serenade in C for String Orchestra

Violin Concerto in D

Piano Concerto #1

Symphony #6

Capriccio Italien


Verdi, Giuseppe (1813-1901)

Excerpts from major operas


Villa-Lobos, Heitor (1887-1959)

Bachianas Brasileiras, #3, #5


Vivaldi, Antonio (1678-1741)

The Four Seasons

Concerto in A major for 2 orchestras

Concertos for Violin and Strings


Williams, Ralph Vaughn (1872-1958)

Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

Table of Contents