I met a man recently who had wandered about life dragging the rotting corpse of his arm barely attached to the rest of his body for over a year. His limb carried such a pungent malodor he stopped eating months ago because the noxious stench of his own dripping pus made him perpetually nauseous. A former handyman, he had jimmied up a poor-man’s sling with a tattered Hanes undershirt. It too ...

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Imagine you are an ambitious new worker at a powerhouse institution. Your job performance is soaring, but you frankly work like a dog. Your weeks top out at 80 hours, you get maybe a single 24-hour block of time off every 7 days, you work weekends, and you often work up to 30 hours straight in one stint, sleep at work, and eat exclusively from food options in the building. You ...

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I do a strange thing as a physician almost daily. I go to alcoholics and have them promise me they'll go home and continue drinking. Then I release them back into the wild to do just that. I'm an emergency physician at an urban hospital, and I see alcoholics every single shift, brought in by the ambulance "found down" -- that is, found passed out in public places or belligerent on ...

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The sad thing is, I hardly remember the patient. Everything about her is just an overhead pediatric trauma alert followed by the flurry of cutting clothes off, throwing IV lines, and calling out our primary and secondary survey -- "blown right pupil," "unequal breath sounds," "gross deformity to left ankle," and then, "no pulses" -- followed by the age-old barbaric resuscitation efforts that are now muscle memory to us, as ...

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July as a newly minted intern: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The only analogy I can make is you feel like a middle school kid sitting in a PhD course, desperately trying to back-learn everything in a language of acronym alphabet soup you've never heard before. If medical school is drinking from a fire hose, this is trying to sip from Niagara Falls. You have ...

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Becoming a doctor takes time, but those outside of medicine do not always realize how convoluted the process can be. Central to the perversion is the National Resident Matching Program (or “the Match”). After college and the two years of classroom-based training in medical school, students are ushered into clinical training through third year core rotations in predetermined specialties. In the spring of their third year, students must decide on their ...

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shutterstock_154662227 There is a saying that you enter medical school wanting to help people but exit it wanting to help yourself. It may be a cynical view, but a realistic one. The criteria for being a good medical student are far different from being a good doctor. Medical education may be breeding a legion of self-serving, grade-grubbing, SOAP-note spewing machines rather than ...

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