“She is not yours to grieve.” That statement, from another physician, hours after Ava died and as pent up tears rolled down my face, left me embarrassed and ashamed. The message: She was my patient, not my child. Never mind the amount of time and tenderness I had poured into her care during the month she spent in the pediatric ICU. I had no right to mourn her death. I am a doctor. As ...

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As physicians, we are trained to look for change. We look for changes in lab findings and change medications, and we ask our patients, “what has changed since I saw you last?” We are always trying to get our patients to change in one way or another. Doctors are hardwired to seek changes that produce a dopamine release in our brains. We love it when patients see an improvement in ...

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On my medicine sub-internship, I took care of an elderly man who was a retired military surgeon. When he first came into the hospital, mentally altered from an underlying infection, he was irascible and unpleasant towards many staff members, swatting their hands away as they attempted to draw blood for lab tests. As the infection came under control, the shell of rage fell away to a quiet dissatisfaction. The bed was ...

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When I was an intern in medicine, I couldn’t wait to start my role as a radiology resident. Even though I cared for my patients to the best of my ability and studied their diseases, I knew that my time in the department was limited. I wish I could say that I put my whole heart into my work, but with all of the extraneous demands of intern year -- ...

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As a second year resident, I often do not feel like an expert in anything.  Every day I learn more about medicine and realize how much more I still want to learn.  In spite of the emotional, physical and mental challenges that being a young doctor entails, I have remained positive and have grown stronger throughout residency.  As I reflect on the past year and a half, I appreciate the ...

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As a medical scribe to physicians, I’ve entered over a thousand different exam rooms and listened to a thousand different patients give their unique histories, but the morning of October 28th was quite different. On this chilly late October morning, I knocked and stepped into the exam room of my very first "patient." “Mrs. Laura Williams” was an elderly woman, old enough to be my grandmother, but slightly taller and a lot ...

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Readers are slowly learning about my admiration for the Farnam Street Blog.  The about page describes the blog in this way:

My goal is to help you go to bed each night smarter than when you woke up. I’ll do this by giving you tools, ideas, and frameworks for thinking. I’m not smart enough to figure all of this out myself. I try to master the best of what other ...

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“I remember how hard it was to be a third-year medical student,” one of my residents once said to me. “You have to appear constantly enthusiastic. You feel continuously judged and evaluated. And worst of all, you know, deep inside, that if you were to get a cold or something and not show up one day, not one bit of the daily workflow would change because as far as pivotal ...

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I recently recreated a now-famous business school study on a subset of residents in my internal medicine residency program. In the original study, researchers asked students to read a case of the real-life venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, who expertly leveraged an extensive professional network to forward her career.  Half of the students read the original case; half were given a case in which Heidi's name was switched to Howard -- a ...

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Her nails were painted. She probably had them done just a couple of days ago. The bright red polish glistened on her perfectly filed fingernails. She had her toes done too. Was she preparing for the holiday season? Had she begun her Christmas shopping yet? Was she making a list of new year's resolutions? It didn't matter anymore. She was lying there. The cold metal table provided the platform for her lifeless, still body. ...

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