A letter to my nephew, who is just starting residency. There will be days ahead when patients will bring you their most prized and flawed possessions -- their broken bodies, their flagging spirits, their waning hope.  They will wonder: "Can I get back to my loved ones, my life, my dreams?  Will you help me? Do you care?" You will not have all the answers, though you will have read a forest ...

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A few months ago, I was on my general surgery rotation on the colorectal service as a medical student. It was in the late afternoon that we started a case of a robotic rectopexy to repair a rectal prolapse. Our patient was a kind and warm 89-year-old woman. The operation finished without a hitch. As we undocked the da Vinci machine, the resident and I began to suture closed the multiple ...

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The question, asked to me by a new first-year medical student, seemed simple enough: “There are a lot of different types of reflex hammers out there -- which one should I buy?” As with so many things in medicine, however, I knew that my answer wouldn’t be so straightforward. As I prepared to answer, I flashed back to one of my first days in medical school, when one of my clinical ...

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It's a typical chaotic day on the hospital's hematology and oncology floor. I'm sitting in a side room with one of my fellow medical students, doing paperwork and making follow-up calls for our medical team. That's when the music starts. The sounds of two guitars, a tambourine, and a few maracas drift down the hallway. I can't make out how many people are singing, but the happy voices and the song's ...

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Hi there, Allow me to introduce myself. I’m you. I’m you 20 years ago, or 45 years ago if you were in the Class of ’72. I’m you one month ago if you were in the Class of 2016. I spilled coffee down my shirt, my hair is kind of a mess, and there are dark circles under my eyes from long hours spent studying. Sound familiar? Great. Then you’re in the right place. The ...

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This is the question that every premed student must answer. It is the automatic query that follows after you have informed someone of your future goal to become a doctor. It is also the question many med school interviewers will ask in an attempt to gain their first impression of you. “Why do you want to be a doctor?” Everyone who poses this question has their own intention behind it. Your follow-up ...

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Based on recent data, medical students pay approximately $136 million dollars each year in registration fees for the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS and Step 3 exams. Current registration fees to take the four USMLE exams are $3,320 per U.S. medical student and $4,125 per international medical graduate (IMG).  Estimated annual registration fees for the USMLE exams are $69.6 ...

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“I could never go into that specialty. They’re so passive aggressive.” “Those residents are so catty.” “Oh, them? They don’t even know their patient’s names.” “Those residents are such bros.” And so on. I guarantee you that if you’re in medicine -- or even if you’re not --  it would take you no more than two guesses to figure out which specialty each of the above statements is describing. At some point during third year, ...

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Psychiatry was my first clinical rotation, and I did not know what to expect when I began. When I initially got assigned to the dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) team, I had no clue what that would entail beyond working with some borderline patients and that the preconception of borderline patients is that they can be “the most difficult” patients to help due to their intense emotional instability, chronic feelings of ...

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Health care providers are often uncomfortable discussing issues of religion with patients, despite studies that indicate nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe in some sort of spiritual power. As a medical student, I have noticed that religion plays an important role in many patients’ lives, and that conversations about spirituality can build rapport between doctors and patients. As the United States becomes increasingly diverse across religious lines, it is imperative for ...

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