Even as a child, I noticed that many people, especially my Depression-era grandmother, feared aging and the imminence of death. Death was no stranger to me growing up; I lost my then best friend, my Nano, and my uncle as a child, both traumatically. Yet, death was sad, but natural. Because of this, I never understood our society’s stigma against dying, something that I've struggled with even in medical school. In ...

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This question has been circulating in the academic medical world for years. As an intern and resident, I would hear complaints about how "unready" they seemed. The grievances often include adjectives like ill-prepared, lazy,  or uninterested.  The complaints have burgeoned over time, and the examples are numerous in my institution: Students show up late to rounds with coffee in their hands; one med student had the gall to go directly to the attending and ...

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Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall that single defining moment or person that sends you on the path you’re meant to take in life. I was fortunate in that I found that experience halfway through my undergraduate career at the University of California, Davis. I had recently lost my grandmother; although I’d wanted to help, all I’d been able to do at the hospital was translate for her. That overwhelming sense ...

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An anonymous medical student has this post on KevinMD -- A star medical student feels like he made a terrible decision:

And so, medical students learn quickly how to play this game. We enter noble. We leave jaded. We leave seeing that the smart move is to get out of it. And so the smartest of the smartest, the ones lucky enough to have a choice, go into fields where ...

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During my first year of medical school, I attended a “speed dating” event, where medical students met attendings from various specialties to get a better sense of what we could do with our lives once we graduated. Older physicians consistently remarked that they decided their future during their intern year. One even said that he waited until the end of his internship to decide on otolaryngology. I, along with my fellow ...

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I’m not sure when it happened, but driving into the parking lot that cold winter day, I knew it had. Tears welled in red eyes, snot dripped out of my nose. I felt so alone and lost. My whole life I’d wanted this -- the drive to the hospital and wondering whether I would change a life. But as I sat in my car, engine off, I didn’t want that ...

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1. I applied to medical school so that I could become a doctor and provide care for patients. I care about people. I am eager to be part of the health care community. I believe that most, if not all, physicians feel the same way. Physicians are also human and flawed and fallible. Everyone, including physicians, have off days and make mistakes and run late. What you may not know ...

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Today I have a practical exam; that means doctors are shadowing me. It’s my turn to talk with patients about their diagnoses, and I’ve been looking forward to that part of medicine. It’s my second patient; she’s here for vaginal discharge. I go in, introduce myself and explain my role. I’m still mediocre at documentation, but I’m good at putting patients at ease, so we make small talk. She just moved ...

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As part of my pediatrics rotation, I recently spent a week taking care of patients at juvenile hall. The patients were physically healthy for the most part; I saw them for screening physicals that they receive while incarcerated. However, these encounters were far more than a typical physical. Instead of focusing on medical issues, we primarily talked about health behaviors and general well-being. It was a rare opportunity to interact with ...

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Every fall, medical schools welcome nearly 20,000 college graduates. They arrive anticipating endless hours of lectures, too much coffee, and infinite facts to memorize. There is one thing they do not expect, however. I know. Forty-nine years ago, I was one of them. The first day I walked onto the wards was in spring of 1967. I was in St. Louis, doing my second year of medical school. Previously my presence ...

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