All medical students start out as the best of the best: You had to be to get into medical school.  So now that you’re in, what are some of the things you can do to attain the specialty you really want? How do you set yourself apart from your peers? 1. Get out of your head. Telling yourself you can’t achieve a competitive residency is your first barrier.  If you can’t even ...

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Last week I, like many around me, came down with a horrible cold. My husband got sick the week before and was in bed all weekend sleeping and trying to recover, and lo and behold, come Monday, I started having the same symptoms. I knew the approximate course of the cold since I’m a doctor, and I saw my husband go through it, but I thought I could be strong and push through. I continued ...

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This past month has been a particularly difficult one for me because I’ve been on our float rotation. I have worked only night and swing shifts throughout our hospitals; this means my work hours are primarily from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. There are certainly other rotations during which I worked longer hours and had more emotionally draining conversations, but I have never felt as burned out as I have this ...

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There's been a bit of kerfuffle over resident duty hours lately. For those unfamiliar with the topic, physicians in training in the United States have traditionally lived in the hospital -- hence why they were called residents -- and available to patients 24/7.  Over time, concerns about patient safety led to limits on how many hours could be worked consecutively in the hospital.  In 2003, the maximum number of ...

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“She is not yours to grieve.” That statement, from another physician, hours after Ava died and as pent up tears rolled down my face, left me embarrassed and ashamed. The message: She was my patient, not my child. Never mind the amount of time and tenderness I had poured into her care during the month she spent in the pediatric ICU. I had no right to mourn her death. I am a doctor. As ...

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As a second year resident, I often do not feel like an expert in anything.  Every day I learn more about medicine and realize how much more I still want to learn.  In spite of the emotional, physical and mental challenges that being a young doctor entails, I have remained positive and have grown stronger throughout residency.  As I reflect on the past year and a half, I appreciate the ...

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Up to a third of resident physicians suffer from clinical depression or its symptoms. This was the finding of a large review of 54 studies involving 17,560 resident physicians, published in JAMA recently. In some of the studies reviewed, up to 40 percent of resident physicians reported depressive symptoms. The study found these physicians were 4.5 times more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms following beginning residency training. ...

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Readers are slowly learning about my admiration for the Farnam Street Blog.  The about page describes the blog in this way:

My goal is to help you go to bed each night smarter than when you woke up. I’ll do this by giving you tools, ideas, and frameworks for thinking. I’m not smart enough to figure all of this out myself. I try to master the best of what other ...

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I recently recreated a now-famous business school study on a subset of residents in my internal medicine residency program. In the original study, researchers asked students to read a case of the real-life venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, who expertly leveraged an extensive professional network to forward her career.  Half of the students read the original case; half were given a case in which Heidi's name was switched to Howard -- a ...

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The afternoon began like any other day in medical school.  Students arrived at the lecture hall and took their seats.  An individual with long blue-and-white hair and handlebar mustache entered the room wearing oversized fish-print pants, a loose-fitting clown shirt, and a single earing fashioned out of a bent fork.  He casually strolled up to the front, introduced himself as Dr. Patch Adams, and told us that the ...

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