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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

I burned out for the first time in my life about three months after starting medical school. The surprising thing was that nothing out of the ordinary happened, I was doing exactly what they told me to do, pre-reading from lecture notes and recommended textbooks, going to lectures and labs, and trying to study and review what I learned that day in the library. The problem was, that after a 45-minute ...

Read more...

"… slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." This quote, borrowed in part from poet and pilot John Gillespie McGee, Jr., was used by President Ronald Reagan to honor the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger shuttle explosion. I was in the 6th grade when I first heard this phrase. In a tiny schoolroom in remote West Texas, President Reagan’s speech was broadcast and replayed over the ...

Read more...

It was a concept intimately familiar to me long before anyone gave it a name. From my earliest days in college, I felt surrounded by people who packed their days with meetings, activities, sports practices or competitions; classes, study groups, and research; for whom every moment had been spoken for and each day didn’t so much end as spill over into the next. The standard was clear: to do any ...

Read more...

“Let’s say a Chinese patient comes into labor and delivery … simply logs onto the CultureVision website. Next, click on the Chinese section and finally click 'Labor, Birth and Aftercare.' Just that quickly you have the information you are looking for.” CultureVision boasts that it is the “first comprehensive, user-friendly database that gives health care professionals access to culturally competent care.” The website’s automatic slideshow, entitled “Did you Know?” shifts between ...

Read more...

Though I am two years into my residency, I still experience flashbacks to my time as a medical student on the wards. The adrenaline of arriving at the hospital 2 hours before rounds, scrambling to see my patients, constructing a note that no one would ever look at, and preparing a hastily-constructed presentation to deliver in a half-performance, half-examination outside of our patient’s room. I remember being the object of a ...

Read more...

It is February of our last few months of clinical rotations. I am a rising fourth-year medical student at a well-known East Coast institution with a not-so-bad track record, I guess you could say. I scored in the top percentile for the USMLE Step 1, honored my third-year rotations, and have comments from attendings about how I am destined to succeed in this career. One might think that at this point ...

Read more...

Over the past eight months, I’ve rotated at the Palo Alto VA, Santa Clara Kaiser, Stanford outpatient family medicine, and pediatrics clinics, and most recently, at Santa Clara Valley. At the VA and Kaiser, all my patients spoke English. Occasionally, at Stanford’s outpatient sites, our patients spoke a language other than English; however, this never felt like a barrier to care because Stanford had phone interpreters available, as well as ...

Read more...

One of my favorite shows to watch as a kid was Bill Nye the Science Guy. I fondly recall being glued to the television as Bill enthusiastically explained the mysterious wonders of the universe with all of his props, gizmos, and gadgets. Unlike science teachers at school, whose seemingly endless lectures bored me, Bill Nye’s hands-on, interactive approach held my attention. He simplified complex science concepts so well that even ...

Read more...

Most Popular