When I clicked on the “View Your Exam Results” link on the American Board of Anesthesiology website, I thought something rashly exuberant would engulf me. I thought that everyone in the lunch room would turn suddenly, throw their reheated pasta and cafeteria sandwiches high aloft with glee and balloons would gush from the cracks between the fluorescent lights on the ceiling as the whole world burst into song. But instead, there ...

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Mostly it is just terrifying. I sat on the edge of the bed in my fleece pajamas and tried to describe the fear. “I’m sure you’ll do great,” my husband tried to reassure me. “But you don’t understand. Every time you induce general anesthesia, you’re basically almost killing someone. It’s … petrifying.” “But everyone always said you were a great resident Felicity, you’re going to be a great attending too. I’m sure everything will ...

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His blood pressure disappeared. The arterial tracing, a red line on the monitor reassuringly undulating with every beat of his heart, falling from 122/83, 99/64, 80/50, 67/42, then a flat line at 48. I had just come off the elevator, ushered in by the surgery resident who found me in the hallway searching for the right room. Epinephrine. Get the code cart. Check for a pulse. The nurse screwed the two halves ...

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Dr. Lewis didn’t sleep last night. All day he stood, heavy in full surgical scrub with a human heart in his hands, replacing damaged valves and calcified arteries until the heart beat on its own again. After he finished, there were a few hours before the transplant to get some dinner, to call home. The heart came on a helicopter. A young man, a bad accident, a perfect heart. Dr. Lewis pierced ...

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Harold was 51 years old and needed his left arm amputated. A year ago he noticed some swelling in his forearm and went to his primary care doctor. An MRI showed something. It was small and hard to define, hard to categorize, probably a collection of blood, but there was an outside chance it could be a sarcoma, a tumor originating from muscle ...

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As part of the routine scut of the overnight call team, I was sent up to the floor to preop an add-on for the next day’s OR schedule. The Preoperative Anesthesia Assessment form has tidy little boxes for cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hematologic and an assortment of other complaints, and spaces for height, weight, allergies and personal or family history of untoward reactions to anesthesia. I put a single slash through the ...

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The first time I let a medical student try to intubate was in August. Now in my final year of anesthesia residency, I had volunteered to mentor a third-year medical student for a week. A few weeks in advance I got an email with the form she had filled out. Anesthesia experience: none. Excited to learn: yes. I met her on Monday morning after she navigated through the preoperative holding area ...

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