I thought the most important thing I had learned while working in the emergency department as a first-year medical student was to bop and weave.  The impeccable foot skills I harnessed as a youth lacrosse player were put to great use- to stay out of the way.  The quiet whisper of a nurse trying to slide behind me, and -- BAM -- back against the wall.  I can hear the ...

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I performed my first paracentesis in November of my intern year.  It was 3 a.m., and I was on overnight call in a packed ICU.  The patient, a 45-year-old male with hepatic encephalopathy, was hardly alert enough to remember my name.  He didn’t know I was an intern.  He didn’t know I’d never even attempted a paracentesis before. After I finished, I added the patient’s name to my procedure card.  I hurried to get an ABG ...

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July as a newly minted intern: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The only analogy I can make is you feel like a middle school kid sitting in a PhD course, desperately trying to back-learn everything in a language of acronym alphabet soup you've never heard before. If medical school is drinking from a fire hose, this is trying to sip from Niagara Falls. You have ...

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Working the night shift as a resident physician You’ve changed. No longer do we see you sluggishly walking en route to work every morning with refillable coffee thermos in one hand, robotically scanning some kind of social media feed with the other. We are concerned that the regular and cyclic day time group texts received from you are now occurring at odd hours of the night.  Your persistence to move ...

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I’m a second-year medical student, and quite recently, a lecture left me with serious doubts about the state of social awareness in the medical field and schools. The dermatologist lecturing described a patient with secondary syphilis, stating he felt the case was odd since, “He [the patient] didn’t look gay or anything,” as if only homosexual men could contract that disease. I was hurt. I not only belong to a racial ...

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As a medical student, it’s difficult to face a situation where everything possible is done for a patient, yet due to circumstances (seemingly) beyond our control, the risk of future harm remains uncomfortably certain. The majority of our medical school learning focuses on how to cure illness; unfortunately we’re not always taught how to deal with the real world issues that face our patients and that threaten the medicine we ...

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This time of year I get a lot of questions from fourth-year medical students about applying to residency. So, here's my answer to the question, "What should I look for in a good family medicine (FM) residency program?" It's FM, so everyone (for the most part) is going to be nice, friendly, and welcoming when you go to visit. They will show you a curriculum that's in line with the Accreditation ...

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Let me begin with by extending a hearty congratulation on matriculating to medical school. The pre-med years were tough with organic chemistry, staying involved with leadership activities, chasing down the elusive letter of recommendation, and sitting for the MCAT. But you did it. Be proud of what you've accomplished because you're one step closer to becoming a doctor. You may have fears, concerns or misgivings about what is coming your way and this ...

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Should I be a nurse or a doctor? Having been both a nurse and a doctor, most of the questions I get from readers have to do with making the decision between nursing and medicine.  Let’s lay aside for a moment the reality that the fields are totally different and that direct comparisons are useless. But people ask me all the time, so as a little experiment, I ...

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Suicide Med: A medical school thrillerSuicide Med: A medical school thriller An excerpt from Suicide Med. “I wish I had become a ballet dancer instead.” I use the back of my forearm to swipe at strands of dark hair that have come loose from the tight bun at the back of my head. The attempt fails and the escaped locks fall back ...

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