I recently began a rotation at the hospital as one of the night float interns. As part of this responsibility, I manage the care for approximately fifty patients each night. Day after day, I perform the same routine in preparation for the night ahead: Grab my stethoscope and pager, claim one of the code pagers, pick up a time sheet to fill in the nightly team to-do’s and mentally prepare ...

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Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go knock on patients’ doors and keep them company for a little while. This was awesome. Few ...

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“To help other people overcome their injuries.” This mantra was accompanied by flushed faces, hidden trembling hands, and nervous chuckles as the majority of my peers told the class why they decided to pursue physical therapy as a career. Soon thereafter, this adage was lost as we dived into our studies, learning every bone, muscle, and organ. Focusing on the human body is a must for all healthcare professionals, and PTs ...

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When it comes to advocacy, some doctors dont have anything left to give We like to say good things; we try to make normative to our profession to do the things that should be done. Many of us are saying that physicians should be advocates for their patients and communities outside of the clinic. Sounds good right? Unfortunately, what sounds good is not always a reality on the ground. I think most physicians agree that ...

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Watching my first below-the-knee amputation on my surgery rotation, I felt a curious mix of revulsion and detachment. The woman on the operating table had a gangrenous infection that had spread across her foot. Her long history of smoking and her delay in seeking medical care meant that she had stiff, black toes by the time a surgeon first saw her. The only treatment was amputation. In the operating room, the ...

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Mrs. C was used to my quiet knock every morning at 6 a.m. She smiled as I turned on the overhead lights, but began to grimace when she realized that today was dressing-change day. The rustling packages of bandages in my overstuffed coat pockets had given it away. Mrs. C had stage four metastatic endometrial cancer; a malignancy of her uterus that was not responding well to chemotherapy and had ...

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Training doctors is no easy task. After medical school, newly minted doctors enroll in residency programs at various hospitals throughout the country for a length of 3 to 8 years, depending on their specialty. Some specialties, like family medicine, are even considering adding another year to the process. Resident physicians spend this time working long, arduous hours under their attending physicians, learning the clinical intricacies of their specialties that could not ...

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Students undergo a conversion in the third year of medical school: not “pre-clinical” to “clinical,” but “pre-cynical” to “cynical.” — Abraham Verghese, MD The scalpel hovered over the swollen, red and inflamed mass peeking through the opening in the sterile drapes. The patient lay on her side facing away from us, clutching the stiff emergency room pillow against her face and moaning as she rocked back-and-forth. Whenever the surgeon manipulated the mass, ...

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Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. - Susan Sontag, Illness as a Metaphor Words are important. ...

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I have spent many blog hours bemoaning the inadequate communication going on in hospitals today. Thanks to authors of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, I have more objective data for my ranting. A prospective intervention study conducted at 9 academic children’s hospitals (and involving 10,740 patients over 18 months) revealed that requiring resident physicians to adopt a formal handoff process at shift ...

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