In a few weeks, new medical school graduates will take their turns saying the words of the Hippocratic Oath. In theory: This is a noble tradition where they promise to fulfill their duties as wonderful physicians: Autonomous, wise, humble, prevention-focused, and active members of their communities. In reality: The health care system in which they’re entering makes it next to impossible to keep any of these commitments. It is a ...

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Dear Me, MD: Now that you have opened this letter, you may have graduated or maybe you just matched into residency — somewhere, anywhere, hopefully?! As you read this, it should be some time during spring 2017. But, you never know, sometimes the train derails, and it takes a little longer than expected, so forgive yourself if that is the case. You learned a while back that the fast lane is ...

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Most doctors are very bright people. I believe that what often sets apart those who perform well on the job and on exams isn't raw intelligence but rather the ability to learn effectively. In the MCAT and USMLE steps 1, 2, and 3, I did poorly and barely passed. In 2009, I took my family medicine in-training exam and fell below the minimum passing score. After taking almost five years away from residency ...

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Welcome to planet medicine, where four rides around the sun earns you a golden ticket to study more, to train more, and to enjoy splicing two sacred letters onto the end of your title. The days are long, the weeks go fast, and sleep is optional. In this world, all-star draftees leave their immaculate collegiate careers as masters of memorization and intellectual puzzle solvers only to still be no more ...

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Ya mero llegamos?” Are we almost there? These become one of the most dreaded words I have to hear every weekend, when I pick you up from the long commute that is from Sacramento to the bay area to spend time with you. Oftentimes I am just as inpatient as you my love. This has been our sacrifice these last few years, being physically away from one another. I take a deep ...

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My mind usually starts to wander around the third or fourth hour of retracting a fat flap or holding up a leg during a long operation. I start by guessing how many times the attending has done this particular procedure. Is it his hundredth time doing it? If he was one of the older attendings, perhaps it was his thousandth one. As a neophyte in the operating room, I still relish ...

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As graduation nears, I recall an away rotation that concerns me for the future of medicine. I remember eagerly boarding my plane, ready to work hard, learn as much as possible, and explore the unknown. My first day in clinic, I was excited to befriend the student I would rotate with. After seeing our first patient together, she asked me to share my clinical reasoning for the case. I happily ...

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It’s 4:00 p.m. on a Thursday: time to present at teaching attending rounds. I have prepared my presentation and know about the patient’s pathology, but I can never help myself from being incredibly anxious for these moments. I gather my papers and begin: “This is a 49-year-old undomiciled male with a past medical history significant for alcoholism, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and chronic pancreatitis who presents with hematemesis.” I take a breath. ...

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I was sitting on hold in the resident room gearing up to beg the IT person that would soon come on the other line for enough authorization to be able to view the residents’ patient problem list, and I found myself thinking about what some of the old docs must think of us third-year students now. Talk to some of these older physicians and they’ll tell you their stories of ...

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Like many of my peers, I started medical school with idealistic dreams of providing compassionate care for poor patients. I thought being a physician was a noble profession and even discussing money, much less changing my career choices based on it seemed antithetical to that. A visit to the financial aid office quickly cured me of my naiveté. I was facing over $300,000 in debt and would be forgoing millions of ...

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