Every time I walk into a bookstore, I pass Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and am reminded of a specific anecdote he shared. Kalanithi, MD, was a seventh-year neurosurgery resident and his lung cancer had metastasized – a process which was only being controlled by a new drug his oncologist had decided to try. But one day, Kalanithi had severe nausea and had to be hospitalized to stay hydrated. A ...

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High-stakes standardized testing is an enduring facet of medical education, and the standardized test that is on every medical student’s mind is the USMLE Step 1. The paramount importance of this test for getting into residency creates a demand for high-quality test preparation materials. Established test prep names like Pathoma, Sketchy Medical, First Aid and UWorld fill that demand in a market consisting of more than 40,000 test takers worldwide ...

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3 a.m. The alarm blares. Get up, make food, study. Maximize caffeine intake, maximize studying efficiency. 4:12 am. Take the last sip of water, pray. Maximize studying with residual caffeine power. 7 a.m. Get dressed, go to work. Stay awake, stay alert, see patients, present well, regurgitate answers, retain information. Produce saliva, clear dry throat. Study during lunch break. Stay awake, stay alert, see patients, present well, regurgitate answers, retain information. 6 p.m. ...

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Delivered at the Harvard Medical School Class Day Ceremony, May 25, 2017. Distinguished faculty, dedicated staff, and most importantly, loving parents and family members: Thank you for all you’ve done to support us and transform us into doctors. Harvard Medical School Class of 2017, congratulations. It is an enormous honor to address you all today. When I was a third-year medical student, I scrubbed in on the surgery of a woman ...

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Dear future medical student: It’s graduation week. I’m running into people I haven’t seen in a long time. There are a few things on my mind currently, and in four years, you’ll have the same conversations. “Did you have so much fun in med school? Did you love it?” “No.” “Wow! Those four just FLEW by, didn’t they?” “No. They absolutely did not.” “Well just WAIT ‘til you get to residency. THAT was hard. What you ...

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It was the first warm day of spring as I walked into the assisted-living facility for what would be the last time. I was on my way to Larry's room, the resident of the facility that I had been paired with, when I was stopped by my group leader. "I have some terrible news," he said. "Larry's wife was moved to another facility — her dementia has worsened since our ...

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This quarter, during the block of our human health and disease course dedicated to learning about the pulmonary system, I conducted one of the scariest “academic experiments” of my life: I stopped going to class. What did she do with all that free time? one might be wondering. Instead of spending hours every week watching the lectures I missed going to in person and reading textbooks (I saved all of that ...

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I can’t quite describe the feeling of sitting in the audience of my medical school graduation this past month. Among the rows of students anxiously awaiting the graduating class, I felt like an anomaly. When the newly minted doctors came down the aisle, my heart skipped a beat. The truth is I should have been in that processional. I should have been an MD by now. No, I didn’t flunk out ...

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Do you have to go to a top medical school in order to accomplish your dreams?  Premedical students ask these questions often.  It’s really a subset of the larger question which is “How do I choose which medical schools to apply to?” But back to the rankings.  In the Internet age, information is ubiquitous, and there’s always a new med school rank list being published by some authority. These rankings, in ...

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Throughout my first two years of medical school, I longed for the day when I would walk the halls of the medical center, running errands and accompanying my resident and attending physicians to our patients’ bedsides. In the meantime, my college roommates, who graduated with nursing degrees, often shared with me their own stories from the wards. They warned, “Don’t be one of those doctors that … ” Most of ...

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