Having recently watched a cable television recreation of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, I am left thinking about how far some of us have come and how far some of us haven't. The confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991 changed the concept of sexual harassment in the workplace by bringing the issue to the forefront. By the time, I started residency nearly 20 years after the ...

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Maybe it’s just me, and maybe this is a regional/local phenomenon, but I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of non-physicians who sport their white coats on a daily basis around the hospital. First, let me preface this piece by saying I have absolutely nothing against any person who partakes in the care of patients; in fact, I commend all the helping hands that routinely dedicate themselves to health ...

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Three weekday call shifts left and two more weekends. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright, and I am relieved to be walking towards it. The only question that remains is what will I have left of myself and my life when I get there? I started residency with a husband who I loved more than life itself. I was codependent to a fault, never wanted to ...

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As I get near the completion of an intense 5-year orthopedic surgery residency program, I had an interesting interaction with our hospitals sub-committee specifically tasked to address duty hour and resident fatigue issues. As they gave examples from other departments about changes made to their programs regarding duty hours, a clear-as-mud connection was continually made. They spoke of “improvements” made as the result of residents stepping up to serve as whistleblowers ...

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The abandoned retractor clatters dangerously close to the other edge of the sterile field, saved only by the quick reflexes of the scrub nurse. The attending lets out a brief laugh, “I guess we’re using the Madagascar technique,” then it’s back to the operation at hand. Minutes pass as I continue to stand in my assigned place at the attending’s side, prepared to offer whatever meager contribution I can to ...

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In the hour after I heard the news, I experienced the full spectrum of typical reactions to a physician suicide. One end of the spectrum came from the attending in a clinic, who when asked if the residents could go home and mourn their friend who just committed suicide, proceeded to tell me a story of how when her grandpa died before a final exam in medical school. She decided to ...

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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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Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be surgeons. Really. Don’t. As the mother of a soon-to-be fellowship-trained surgeon, I know what I’m talking about. Listen to me. Ignore Willie Nelson. You don’t want your babies to be doctors; you want them to be cowboys. Really. Yeah, yeah, I know, your daughter is a whiz at all things mathematical and/or spatial. And your son is a science prodigy. Their eye-hand coordination is legendary ...

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Almost two years ago I went to the funeral of a medical school classmate.  A little more than three weeks before he had jumped from a parking garage after finishing his clinic.  He had a loving wife and three young children. He had the respect of his colleagues and the love of his patients. There was nothing out of the ordinary in his financial or personal life. It didn’t make ...

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