Learning in medical school often feels like learning a completely new language. There are numerous acronyms (OPQRST, CAGE) and molecules (IL-1, TGF-beta) and more. But most striking to me are two particularly ubiquitous buzzwords: “high-yield” and “protected time.” I feel like I heard both these terms -- and particularly the former -- thrown around every single week of this past school year. High-yield has been used to refer to, as you ...

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My high school graduation ceremony was your typical Californian high school graduation -- the sun hovering lazily over us, a cool, ocean breeze bringing wafts from the sea. As I listened to my principal deliver his address, my attention waned in and out. The sun was too warm and the wind was too soft. When the student speaker came up to speak, I reclaimed my attention to listen to him ...

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Today, I saved a life. And I wish I could tell you a story about fancy heroics -- about an exploratory laparatomy, a chest thoracostomy, or a patient that coded and I was the last person to perform the chest compressions that brought them back to life.  But I can’t.  But I can tell you that I saved a life. She was 16-years-old, and moved here four years ago from a different ...

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Four adages I learned in medical training that I still speak of today: “Common things are common.” (The alternate version of this that might have more appeal to zoologists: “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”) This cautions physicians to remember that it is more likely that the patient has a common condition than a rare one. Although it is prudent to consider all the possible diagnoses that might match a given ...

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Have you ever had a situation where your perception of some event or entity changed dramatically in an instant? I specifically remember an instance of this happening to me while working as a junior medical student in a family practice clinic. It was a typical day and I was doing the typical thing that you’re supposed to do as a medical student -- feign interest in the clinic’s goings on and try ...

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She’s 58, but appears maybe three days older than 42. Her eyes are sunken, tearful, worried, anxious.  She tells me about her two grandchildren, and how she just visited them in Michigan.  She came to the hospital, straight from the airport.  She’s worried. She’s worried because her shortness of breath hasn’t gone away for over a month now.  She has had breast cancer, and opted for a more conservative approach: a ...

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In a New York Times column, Thomas Friedman recent wrote about what Google values and seeks in its new employees. Striking to me was the fact that overall intelligence ranks lower on their values totem pole than several traditionally more important attributes. So, what can medicine learn from Google and how can we apply it to our admissions process? Here are five key points from the article, adapted to our admissions ...

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Dear new medical student: Congratulations! You are about to embark upon an exciting, life-altering experience, one you will never forget. You are about to join an elite group of people who will now be your peers going forward. You will be continually fascinated, and not a single day will go by from now until you retire that you aren’t challenged by something you have never encountered before. You will be solving problems ...

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Last August I sat surrounded by 163 other ambitious, new medical students on our “introduction to the profession” week. Anxiety was high with undertones of self-doubt mixed with lofty goals. Another distinguished figure had taken the floor to introduce us to the concept of medical professionalism: commitments to patient-centered care, intellectual honesty, social responsibility and advocacy. The long list of medical virtues we were to develop, cherish, and exemplify in ...

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I thought the most important thing I had learned while working in the emergency department as a first-year medical student was to bop and weave.  The impeccable foot skills I harnessed as a youth lacrosse player were put to great use- to stay out of the way.  The quiet whisper of a nurse trying to slide behind me, and -- BAM -- back against the wall.  I can hear the ...

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