“Your zip code is a better predictor of health than your genetic code.” A picture of this quote was projected onto the screen during our lecture. Our professor’s words echoed throughout the auditorium as he described the importance of understanding the social aspects of our patients’ lives rather than just their genetic predisposition to disease. Understanding the social and economic conditions that impact health, disease and the practice of medicine lies ...

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Have you ever wondered exactly what it means when a medical student is “on rotations”? We always claim that we’re busy, but just what is it that we do all day? To answer these questions, here’s a recap of one day from my inpatient pediatrics rotation. 5:27 a.m.: I pull out of the parking lot and start the now-familiar early morning commute down I-280 to San Jose. The good thing about ...

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They say you never forget your first crush. Or your first date. Or your first kiss. And you don't. Just as we have landmarks events that shape us in the adolescence of our personal lives, physicians also have landmark events that shape them in the adolescence of medical training: residency. No longer a child of medical school, needing constant supervision and clinical babysitting by elders, resident physicians start with a refreshingly nascent view ...

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Dear fellow students, I am addressing you today as a comrade, a peer, as someone who shares your concerns and understands the pressure and stress you experience in medical school. It is true that medical schools attract very similar kind of people: Medical students are smart, hard-working individuals who are striving for excellence and achievements. They want to help the sick, the poor and the needy and cultivate a sustainable change ...

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I knew that residency would be indentured servitude for (in my case) three years. I knew it. I prepared for the fear, the shaming, and the isolation as best I could. And I have for the past 11 months done OK. I am not the smartest or fastest. But I am told that I am passionate about my patients and have an “adequate fund of knowledge.” Woohoo. Adequacy! I have had dark moments. And ...

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Dear intern, It will be the best of times, and it will be the worst of times. But what a special time this will be. It will be a time of learning the details and nuances of clinical medicine — the diagnostic features of sarcoidosis and the second, third and fourth line treatments for community-acquired pneumonia. You will learn how to learn, and you will forget what you learned, only to learn ...

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When I started my intern year, I was told that I was going to be sleep deprived and it was going to be the worst years of my life. Yes, there were times I racked up a sleep debt, but it was for patient care.  And because of the camaraderie and relationships I formed (both inside and outside the hospital), I will forever remember residency with a smile. Rather than the words ...

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Everyone says that medical school gets better, especially third year. The traditional four-year curriculum covers basic science in the classroom for the first two years. Then suddenly, third year plunges us into clinical rotations in the hospital, where we’ve all dreamed of working for so long. Third year is when we transition from learning how to be scientists; we finally learn how to become doctors -- except for one critical, ...

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I will walk into the hospital with a clean, ironed white coat buttoned to the top, dress shoes polished, a tie neatly knotted under my collar, my maroon stethoscope rearing to go -- and I will be largely unprepared for what lies ahead. Along with countless others across the country, I will begin my medical internship, a year considered by many to be the most important in a physician’s working ...

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There was more than one tooth missing, maybe three or four from what he could tell. He held one in his scraped hand as I searched for the others, not sure what I would do with them if I found them. My little sister’s bike laid on top of him, a paperweight on his frail frame. Blood pooled in his mouth and dripped onto his shirt when it ran out ...

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