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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I began one of my medical oncology rotations alongside my co-resident: an MD/PhD, fast-track (pre-matched into fellowship) future oncologist. Among my three interns that rotation, two were “Harvard kids.” Needless to say, I was intimidated. My colleague and counterpart not only had the entire catalogue of genomic alterations at the tip of his tongue, he knew and understood their implications on disease. I saw my intern having a long conversation ...

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Pain. It permeates every aspect of medicine, crawls into the deepest corners of our practices, sinks its claws in and stays put. Opiates are at the center of a vicious national debate, and our patients are trapped in its clutches. But my thoughts are less on medications, protocols, and procedures and more on how we approach the patient who cries pain. Through everything I have observed, as a caretaker and ...

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Upon starting medical school, I remember feeling amazed to learn just how many of my classmates had physician parents. I felt like I was in the minority, not having any family members of my own who were doctors. This made me realize: Physician parents tend to breed physician children. But why? I soon discovered that the answer may lie in the genetics of personality. The academic study of personality has grown extensively over ...

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