Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall that single defining moment or person that sends you on the path you’re meant to take in life. I was fortunate in that I found that experience halfway through my undergraduate career at the University of California, Davis. I had recently lost my grandmother; although I’d wanted to help, all I’d been able to do at the hospital was translate for her. That overwhelming sense ...

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An anonymous medical student has this post on KevinMD -- A star medical student feels like he made a terrible decision:

And so, medical students learn quickly how to play this game. We enter noble. We leave jaded. We leave seeing that the smart move is to get out of it. And so the smartest of the smartest, the ones lucky enough to have a choice, go into fields where ...

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During my first year of medical school, I attended a “speed dating” event, where medical students met attendings from various specialties to get a better sense of what we could do with our lives once we graduated. Older physicians consistently remarked that they decided their future during their intern year. One even said that he waited until the end of his internship to decide on otolaryngology. I, along with my fellow ...

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I’m not sure when it happened, but driving into the parking lot that cold winter day, I knew it had. Tears welled in red eyes, snot dripped out of my nose. I felt so alone and lost. My whole life I’d wanted this -- the drive to the hospital and wondering whether I would change a life. But as I sat in my car, engine off, I didn’t want that ...

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1. I applied to medical school so that I could become a doctor and provide care for patients. I care about people. I am eager to be part of the health care community. I believe that most, if not all, physicians feel the same way. Physicians are also human and flawed and fallible. Everyone, including physicians, have off days and make mistakes and run late. What you may not know ...

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Today I have a practical exam; that means doctors are shadowing me. It’s my turn to talk with patients about their diagnoses, and I’ve been looking forward to that part of medicine. It’s my second patient; she’s here for vaginal discharge. I go in, introduce myself and explain my role. I’m still mediocre at documentation, but I’m good at putting patients at ease, so we make small talk. She just moved ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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"… 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 ...

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