Recently, thousands of new residency and fellowship graduates have earned their wings and will be, mostly metaphorically, hanging out their shingles. Sadly, though, as the excitement of finally finishing training after decades of schooling wears off, even great work can become routine. There is a parable about three men laying bricks. When asked what they were doing, the first man said, “Laying bricks.” The second man said, “Building a church.” And ...

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At the moment, I should be studying for my first round of boards, but there is something I can’t get off my mind: sacrifice. If you ask a medical student what they have had to sacrifice to study medicine, the list could go on for days. It could be small things like watching their favorite teams play or being caught up on current events. But more than likely we will list ...

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Whenever someone asks me what year of medical school I am currently in, I answer that I am a "four-out-of-five." To those outside the milieu of Stanford Medicine, this is an odd response -- four-out-of-five of what? But at Stanford, this is common parlance to refer to students taking a gap year after our third year of medical school. Some would reasonably bemoan my choice to take a research year as ...

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I excel at intellectualization. It is a fickle defense mechanism, allowing the observer to fully comprehend the situation in front of them without fully engaging in the emotional context. Throughout my medical training, intellectualization has aided me at many patient bedsides and through emotionally charged family conferences. I am reminded of many moments on neurology wards when a patient’s emotionally charged question was reinterpreted and deflected through a purely intellectual ...

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I worked with someone (not a physician, but that doesn’t really matter here) whose title was “assistant director.” He and I quickly recognized that we worked well together: His head brimmed with big visions and ideas, whereas my head brimmed with plans as to how to make those ideas manifest in the actual world. “He’s like a bunch of balloons,” I quipped to a colleague. “He’s got a ton of ideas ...

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I wasn't as happy as I expected to be when I walked out of the hospital on my last day in medical school. But then again, there was little to celebrate -- my last few patients had terminal cancer, a stroke, and end-stage liver disease from alcoholism. I signed off my patients to my resident, and so, my medical school career came to an unceremonious end. I thought to myself ...

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Every doctor and doctor-in-training has a particular thing that drew them toward a career in medicine. Whether it is an interest in science, a passion for service and helping others, a family role model, or a combination of the above, there are many ways to spark interest in the field. From my own experiences and conversations, I've found that finding inspiration to enter a career in medicine is rarely a ...

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A couple weeks ago, I called up my family and non-med-school friends: "For the next couple months, pretend like I'm backpacking in the Himalayas," I said. Pretend, I stressed, because, in reality, I don't even intend to leave Palo Alto much in the coming months. I've now entered one of the most-dreaded phases of med school: preparing for the first licensing exam, Step 1. During this time -- which can last as long ...

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One of the most common experiences faced by a medical student is being asked for health care advice from a friend or family member. My initial reaction to these questions is usually something along the lines of, "Are you sure you want to be asking me that? I'm not even a doctor yet!" This is especially true when the question is about something that I'm not particularly experienced in (which, ...

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The residency interview trail quickly becomes a lonesome journey, so when I was on it this winter, I’d usually have the hotel room television turned on for some background noise and often find myself watching ESPN’s SportsCenter. On my last interview in Philadelphia, the show was featuring the high flying phenom Zion Williamson, who’s set to be drafted this year to the NBA. When I finally returned to home in ...

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