I bought my first house a few days before starting my second year of residency in St Louis. It was a townhome: two bedrooms, one and a half baths, hardwood floors and lots of wall space. So much wall space, in fact, that I immediately began to look for ways to adorn all those barren surfaces. After visiting some local art galleries, I came to two conclusions. I knew exactly what ...

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Dear Mrs. J, I would like to express my deepest condolences on the passing of your mother. She was a magnificent woman, and I had the pleasure of being her doctor for almost a decade. It was a pleasure. During our short visits, she regaled me with stories of childhood and often gently sprinkled in advice gleaned from years of experience. Even as she began to decline, we would sit together ...

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Mathew preferred using the more biblical term "shepherd." After all, he labored his flock through pastoral pastures and meandering meadows. His parishioners, of course, were sheep and not people. After years of leading them, he could discern subtle differences: the slope of a forehead, the stutter of a step or the variation in bleat. He had a distinct name for every animal in his flock of thousands. Although Mathew preferred isolation, he ...

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The notion began early in computer science class during Jason's freshman year. The professor had noticed a certain elegance and zeal in his work and suggested medicine. That was in the days of the giants when clinicians were tied to such clunky programs as meaningful use and PQRS. In this antiquated milieu, Jason cut his teeth on basic health care architecture. In those prehistoric years, there still remained a bias toward ...

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I both look forward to and despise Sunday mornings.  I awake just before the sun and am on the road by 5:15 a.m.  Although I dread being upright so early on the weekend, I rejoice because it is the only trip to work, all week, at a leisurely pace.  I see the new admits at the nursing home, run by the hospital if necessary, and return just as my family ...

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Behind every doctor is a child who once watched helplessly. Maybe it was her father or grandfather who suffered under the weight of a disease that was deemed all but incurable. Perhaps her own skin was battered and bruised by the repeated trauma of an unrelenting tourniquet. She swore that when (if) she got older she would protect the innocent from such things. Her vow was the light that guided ...

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Sometimes before I go on a run, I take the laces of my jogging shoes and tie them together in a knot.  I wear the pair around my neck with each shoe falling to opposite sides.  The heels clunk against my chest as I make my last minute rounds.  It's as if running is my job and the shoes are the instrument I use to perform that job.  Eventually, I ...

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We are born with arms wide open, and we die in much the same way.  It is that which we carry, in the time between, that defines us. The newborn, caught in the primordial stew of beginnings, is unable to recognize the difference between self and other.  She grasps and roots at inanimate objects with the same voracity she reaches for her mother.  It is a time of differentiation, a time ...

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Joe had one of the best geriatricians in the city.  So when he got a call from the pharmacist saying his new prescription was ready, he assumed that it had to do with his recent annual visit and blood draw. His suspicions were confirmed, a few minutes later, when he got through to the nurse at the office. Joe was politely informed that he had high cholesterol and was being put ...

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I felt like the stack of charts rose past my head and all the way to the ceiling.  I pulled out my pen, opened the first, and started charting.  I took a moment before each note to collect my thoughts.  The patients were complex, the problems sometimes insurmountable.  The nursing station at the facility was buzzing with activity around me.  Phones were ringing, alarms were crying for attention. On the desk ...

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