shutterstock_202560031 Each year, over 20,000 U.S. students begin medical school.  They routinely pay $50,000 or more per year for the privilege, and the average medical student graduates with a debt of over $170,000.  That’s a lot of money.  But for some who pursue careers in medicine, the financial cost has been considerably greater.  Melissa Chen, 35, a final-year radiology resident at the ...

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“So, is this the sickest list you’ve ever had?” the resident asked me at 2 AM, after I finally finished checking off all my boxes for the night. I nodded. I agreed. I was also shaking. I had been covering nine patients that night. Almost none were stable. In the span of one shift, we called three rapid responses. One person went into cardiogenic shock right in front of me was transferred to ...

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I recently began a rotation at the hospital as one of the night float interns. As part of this responsibility, I manage the care for approximately fifty patients each night. Day after day, I perform the same routine in preparation for the night ahead: Grab my stethoscope and pager, claim one of the code pagers, pick up a time sheet to fill in the nightly team to-do’s and mentally prepare ...

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Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go knock on patients’ doors and keep them company for a little while. This was awesome. Few ...

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“To help other people overcome their injuries.” This mantra was accompanied by flushed faces, hidden trembling hands, and nervous chuckles as the majority of my peers told the class why they decided to pursue physical therapy as a career. Soon thereafter, this adage was lost as we dived into our studies, learning every bone, muscle, and organ. Focusing on the human body is a must for all healthcare professionals, and PTs ...

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shutterstock_116633578 We like to say good things; we try to make normative to our profession to do the things that should be done. Many of us are saying that physicians should be advocates for their patients and communities outside of the clinic. Sounds good right? Unfortunately, what sounds good is not always a reality on the ground. I think most physicians agree that ...

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Watching my first below-the-knee amputation on my surgery rotation, I felt a curious mix of revulsion and detachment. The woman on the operating table had a gangrenous infection that had spread across her foot. Her long history of smoking and her delay in seeking medical care meant that she had stiff, black toes by the time a surgeon first saw her. The only treatment was amputation. In the operating room, the ...

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Mrs. C was used to my quiet knock every morning at 6 a.m. She smiled as I turned on the overhead lights, but began to grimace when she realized that today was dressing-change day. The rustling packages of bandages in my overstuffed coat pockets had given it away. Mrs. C had stage four metastatic endometrial cancer; a malignancy of her uterus that was not responding well to chemotherapy and had ...

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Training doctors is no easy task. After medical school, newly minted doctors enroll in residency programs at various hospitals throughout the country for a length of 3 to 8 years, depending on their specialty. Some specialties, like family medicine, are even considering adding another year to the process. Resident physicians spend this time working long, arduous hours under their attending physicians, learning the clinical intricacies of their specialties that could not ...

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Students undergo a conversion in the third year of medical school: not “pre-clinical” to “clinical,” but “pre-cynical” to “cynical.” — Abraham Verghese, MD The scalpel hovered over the swollen, red and inflamed mass peeking through the opening in the sterile drapes. The patient lay on her side facing away from us, clutching the stiff emergency room pillow against her face and moaning as she rocked back-and-forth. Whenever the surgeon manipulated the mass, ...

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