We all go through it. We all have regrets in life. They simply become painful, unescapable daydreams of “what could have been” if only I had only … I often remind young college freshmen who have finally gotten a taste of freedom stepping out of their parent’s home, that what they choose to do in the next 4 years just may dictate the rest of their lives. Our 20s can make ...

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When I first applied for medical school, I beamed about exploring not just the science of medicine, but also the art.  But what is that art?  Some would say it’s clinical experience, combined with being cultured and compassionate and communicating with clarity/conviction.  But how would one teach that art? Journal Watch’s Dr. Allan Brett recently reviewed a multicenter U.S. study following ~300 metastatic cancer patients who had failed initial chemotherapy.  The study showed ...

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A strong wind would have knocked Geraldine to the ground. At 78 pounds, she was underweight, chronically ill, and in need of acute medical or psychosocial care every time she came to the clinic. A survivor of domestic violence with severe mental illness, she had a history of substance abuse and was infected with both HIV and Hepatitis C. In chronic pain but too high a risk to prescribe opioids, ...

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I’m supposed to speak at the body donor memorial in September. I told the organizers my speech was written. “Don’t worry,” I assured them. “I have it all in my head, just need to get it down on paper. I’m a writer; it’s my process.” But the truth is that I am struggling with what to say. I’ve tried to write it, but I just end up drinking a pot ...

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At the heart of American medicine is the concept of bedside manner, and with it the concern that doctors are cold and unemotional. Indeed, doctors are exposed to disease and misfortune on a daily basis. A patient who presents with stage IV metastatic stomach cancer is just one of the many hundreds or thousands of such patients that will walk through the hospital doors in the coming years. Quotidian exposure ...

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My idealism has been stolen. No other way to express how I feel just days past my third anniversary from graduating from fellowship. Post college, I spent thirteen additional years in training to become the specialist physician I am. I am reminded now of my Facebook post stating I was about to start my first “real job” with a picture of the beautifully lit signs at night of the university ...

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How special is it that, as medical students, we are involved intimately in the lives of strangers? We get to be eyewitnesses to their most vulnerable moments, both celebrating the joy of new life and mourning the loss of loved ones. Students on their OB/GYN rotation triumphantly update their Facebook statuses with their first delivery of a baby, a new soul who will grow up not knowing how special they are ...

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I collapsed onto the rickety cot in the hospital on-call room. It was 3 a.m. Over the last twenty hours, fueled only by coffee and occasional bites to eat, I had done morning rounds on my patients, assisted with appendix and gall bladder surgeries, inserted and pulled tubes into and out of bodies, cut open a large intestine filled with feces, took patient histories in clinic, attended afternoon teaching, and ...

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For two years, I served as a representative to my medical school's student affairs committee.  My job was to convey medical student concerns and problems.  As part of that role, I had a lot of time to think about how and why many medical students experience depression and stress. Two recent articles have led me to write about the issue now: "10 simple solutions to stop medical student suicide," ...

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As a medical student having completed my undergraduate major in the humanities, I often receive the question, "Why did you choose to do that?" The underlying thought behind asking why I would choose a major in the humanities while holding the intention to later attend medical school is that medicine is especially distinct from the humanities (and specifically African-American studies in my case). The sciences are just a whole other ...

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