For many people in medical training, one period of time that they look forward to is the elective period. Most of the time, these periods are available for people to explore potential career opportunities, whether it is a certain subspecialty or a research opportunity. Usually, people are not on call and weekends are free, luxuries that are often sparse during the rigors of medical training. Most of the time, one ...

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I handed her the humungous gardening shears and watched as she snapped through each rib providing access to the silent heart of our cadaver. Abruptly, the fire alarm rang out cutting short the most physically taxing day of our yearlong anatomy lab course. Once we had evacuated, firemen streamed into the building, and I wondered if my lab-mates were also thinking about the horrific scene these men would encounter as ...

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On May 11, 2016, we lost another bright, young soul to suicide. Sean Petro was in his third year at the USC Keck School of Medicine and is the third tragedy at his school in the last two years. On April 23, 2015, we lost Kevin Dietl to suicide just weeks before he was to graduate medical school. Kevin's parents were so excited to attend their son's graduation. Instead, they attended ...

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“Hey, Doc!” I heard the patient say as I blazed by bed A. Bed A is the "door" bed. My patient was in bed B, the "window" bed. I had just met him; it was a new inpatient consult. For all the rules and regulations surrounding patient confidentiality, the curtains between beds do little to protect privacy since inevitably there will be audible conversations about symptoms, diagnosis, and management between patients and ...

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There was a morning where I felt like the smallest human being on earth. It was a morning spent in the OR, where it seemed like I could do nothing right. I placed the Foley incorrectly on my first attempt, and then ended up removing it incorrectly as well. I nonchalantly brushed past the robot we were using for the case, which was already draped and prepped, and whose sterility I ...

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As a third-year medical student rotating on the internal medicine service at the VA Hospital, I took care of an elderly patient who was suffering from decompensated alcoholic cirrhosis.  His condition was complicated by hepatorenal syndrome, multiple electrolyte imbalances, and hepatic encephalopathy. It was most complicated however by various ethical challenges and by the social and familial factors surrounding this patient’s course of treatment during his one-month stay on our service ...

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asco-logo A recent AMA Wire article highlighted the resident depression endemic and identified some strategies for improvement. The upshot: Too many trainees are unhappy with their jobs. The most important tool used to gauge trainees’ satisfaction with their training programs is the ACGME survey. Since the ACGME is the organization that formally accredits training programs, ...

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Charles Bukowski once said, “Wherever the crowd goes, run in the other direction. They’re always wrong.” How does one become a master?  What process do we use to have the highest probability of success? Here are some examples. "Picasso was an extraordinary craftsman, even when measured against the old masters. That he chose to struggle to overcome his visual heritage in order to find a language more responsive to the modern world ...

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On my recent tour of residency programs, I had the pleasure of meeting many foreign medical graduates (a.k.a. FMGs; not to be confused with international medical graduates, who are U.S. citizens who go abroad for medical school). Almost uniformly, they struck me as confident, mature and articulate. Many were older than me, some by as much as 10 or 15 years. Most had extensive research experience, and a few had even ...

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Popular shows like Gray’s Anatomy, ER, and House, MD have given the television watching public a good eyeful when it comes to the inner workings of medicine, hospitals, and emergency rooms. They have also shown us how the personalities of those who take up the stethoscope and reflex hammer run the gamut from the sweet, demure, tentative types to the sons of bitches who cut first and ask questions later. I ...

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