As the process of applying to medical school and residency becomes hyper-competitive, we medical students often feel forced to pursue our passions only in ways that are “high yield.” It may seem counterintuitive, but the further we go in our medical training, the more inertia we seem to have about giving our time and energy to the everyday people in need. We’re so pressed for time from our participation in ...

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One cold February morning during my third year of medical school, I walked through the entrance of the rural hospital where I was doing a nine-month rotation and made my way to the nurses' station. Feeling the warmth return to my face, I set down my coat and bag and hung my stethoscope around my neck. The charge nurse, Barb, waved me to her computer. "Kristie, you have a patient." She shuffled through ...

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If your partner is a doctor or medical student, prepare yourself for dozens -- possibly hundreds -- of conversations about their career. If you’re lucky, these conversations are pleasant moments in which you get to show pride about your partner’s accomplishments, discuss the challenges openly, or talk about something you have learned as an outsider looking into the medical establishment. Unfortunately, many of us experience a far more frustrating reality when ...

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In medical training, each morning begins with pre-rounds, a sort of prologue to the work day that gives us a preview of our patients’ conditions. Like a daily ritual, we arrive in the hospital as the sun begins to peek over the horizon and proceed to visit each of their rooms. Some of them are still sleeping, but we wake them up anyway to needle them with questions. Any pain? ...

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“Being able to feel safe with other people defines mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” - Dr. Bessel van der Kolk On my last day of rotation in the psychiatric emergency room, we received a new patient. The keywords and phrases rang through the air: “teenager,” “transgender,” “homeless,” “assaulted recently,” “says she feels a full-grown baby kicking.” I immediately asked if I could see this patient, and was ...

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Medical school attracts very similar kind of people. Most of us are high-achieving, intelligent people with the common goal of helping others. It is beautiful to think of all of the potential patients we could serve working together. Applying to medical school and medical education often suppresses that potential. Somewhere in between all of the courses one must take to enter medical school and the dreadful MCAT, it becomes a number ...

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As a therapist, I have worked with medical students struggling with depression and anxiety, sometimes addiction but mostly desperate to save what is left of their failing relationships. They are torn by guilt and conflicting concerns that make them feel out of control. Medical school demands more than they can give, and yet they give, and give, and give until finally they are depleted. Ironically, this is when they need ...

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There is no feeling that is quite the same as the “first day of school” -- a blend of excitement, nervousness, and uncertainty that almost every student experiences from first grade through college (and sometimes beyond). By now, I’ve had a lot of “first days” in my life. Even so, when I officially started my clinical rotations just over three months ago, that all-too-familiar feeling of nervous excitement was reliably ...

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Through a thoughtful, community-based education program at my medical school, I spent a week rotating with my local fire department. Immediately, I was immersed in the first-responder field. I learned how to set up a transcutaneous pacemaker, properly unfold a fire hose, and plan ground strategy for wildfires. But what I will remember most years from now is something much less technical: the incredible value of team camaraderie. More than once, ...

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It’s that time again -- time to dust off your nicest suit and prepare for either residency or fellowship interviews. Being knee-deep in interview season for infectious diseases fellowships, my interview days bear some resemblance to my residency interviews, yet also are quite different. I have a unique opportunity this year to be a part of the recruitment and decision process for our internal medicine residency program, in addition to being a fellowship applicant. I was visiting ...

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